• Social Enterprise in the Spotlight: Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust

    The green shoots of community-led regeneration are bearing fruit in Mayfield. Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust (MAEDT for short), is showing how local communities can address social issues such as poverty and loneliness while also helping to combat climate change. MAEDT used the lockdown period to incubate two social enterprise projects that are already bringing benefits to local residents. First, they have transformed the old pavilion and bowling green in Mayfield Park into a beautiful café, meeting space and community garden. With the help of a new staff team including Phil (pictured below) and local volunteers, the garden is now bearing its first crops of fruit and vegetables. These are available to customers for a small donation.

    The Pavilion café is open for lunches as well as teas and coffees. It also has meeting rooms and an outdoor shelter that can be hired for all sorts of community events. People interested in volunteering are encouraged to drop into the garden and have a chat with Phil. The project will also be part of Midlothian’s first Green Prescribing programme, through which local GPs and other NHS health practitioners can informally ‘prescribe’ some clients to get active in their community in order to support recovery and improved health. 

    MAEDT has also opened Midlothian’s first community Food Pantry. The Pantry, which aims to help members make their money go further and support local households out of food poverty, is open to people who live in Mayfield and Easthouses. Since opening, it has already gained more than 200 members who can shop once a week.  Each shop costs £3.50 and members can purchase food, toiletries and other household essentials, typically worth up to £15.00. Warris (pictured below) and his team of volunteers are keeping the pantry well stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables from the

    garden, donated from the local Tesco at Hardengreen and through a partnership with Mark Murphy Total Produce Group   As well as non-perishable goods second-hand school uniforms and winter coats for children are also available. The Pantry is located at MAEDT’s office in Bogwood Court and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-2 and Wednesdays 1-6.

    To launch these projects, MAEDT has secured grants from Midlothian Council, National Lottery Community Fund, the Supporting Communities Fund and the DTAS Pockets and Prospects Fund, as well as smaller amounts from Foundation Scotland, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Greenspace Scotland, and the Mushroom Trust. There have also been donations from the Co-op, Scotmid and the Jafaria Foundation in Easthouses. Income through trading activities will help sustain the projects as they grow. 

    Sharon Hill, Trust Manager, is looking forward to what the future will bring for MAEDT and the community: 

    We have plans to move and develop as our customers feedback to us.  We can already see how the Pantry can grow and change with time and member involvement, and the possibilities for growth in the garden and pavilion are almost endless.  It’s an exciting time for us and we are grateful for the support of our volunteers, members, customers, funders and partners.” 

    Welcome to our new graduate intern

    I’m Jill Bunyan, 24, from Glasgow. I recently started my new role at Midlothian Voluntary Action as a Social Justice and Financial Inclusion Graduate Intern. I’m thrilled to start my graduate career in the third sector, and excited to support MVA’s work over the coming months. Here’s a bit about me: 

    Before MVA 

    • Due to a change in career plans, I took a year out between school and university, during which I worked two jobs and volunteered in my free time  
    • I went to the University of Strathclyde and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Scots Law. I also spent a semester at the University of Copenhagen as part of the Erasmus Programme 
    • I quickly realised that going down the path of training as a solicitor wasn’t for me. Instead, I chose to pursue my passion for environmental law and undertook a Master’s Degree at the University of Edinburgh in Global Environment and Climate Change Law. I graduated in 2020  
    • During my time at university, I worked in several part-time jobs in hospitality and as a student ambassador. I was also the treasurer for Erasmus Student Network Strathclyde in my 4th year, and treasurer for the Postgraduate Law Society during my Master’s  
    • Prior to joining MVA, I worked in the family business as an Administrative Assistant while applying for graduate roles.  

    What volunteering I have done 

    • I am on the Steering Group for Young Friends of the Earth Scotland (YFoES). Through YFoES, I was part of a youth organisation collaboration to organise Scotland’s Youth Environment Hustings in the lead up to the Scottish elections. Currently, I am working with others to deliver our campaign objectives for COP26
    • I am on the committee for Get Glasgow Moving. It is a grassroots network and we are campaigning for a fully integrated, accessible and affordable public transport system in Glasgow. Most recently, I did the voice-over for our new campaign video  
    • I have been a volunteer for the Children’s Hearing System for six years  
    • I worked as a sustainability research volunteer for People and Planet. My role was to help gather data to contribute to the production of the 2021 People and Planet University League Table, which ranks UK universities on their environmental and ethical performance 
    • During high school, I volunteered at my local RSPB Nature Reserve and my local wildlife rescue centre as part of fulfilling the requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  

    Why did I want to work for MVA and in the third sector? 

    • By working for MVA I will be able to network and engage with different partners and organisations. This will allow me to learn from a wide group of individuals with expertise on tackling social justice issues who share the same values and help me effectively contribute to MVA’s projects.  
    • The third sector is well positioned to influence and create change that will improve people’s lives and I wanted to be part of that.  

    What advice would I give to those wanting to volunteer? 

    Volunteering is a great opportunity to get involved in a cause that you are passionate about, or the opportunity to try something completely new.  Don’t be embarrassed if the first one (or few) you try don’t work out or aren’t the right fit for you. There are so many worthy organisations out there that are looking for volunteers. Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to a cause and enables you to develop skills and knowledge that you can apply in your professional career. It’s also a chance to meet new people and make friends. 

    Advice for those job hunting and how to stand out in your applications  

    • Talk about your interests/hobbies and what you are passionate about! This shows a bit of your personality and helps you stand out 
    • Research the company/organisation. Make sure you understand their ethos and values and incorporate this into your application. This demonstrates interest in the company, and not just the position 
    • As exhausting as applying for jobs can be, don’t give up, and keep working on personal development.  The right opportunity is around the corner. 

    My future plans 

    This role will provide me with a good introduction on how best to support and coordinate projects to tackle social justice issues, providing me with skills and experience that I can take forward. I’m passionate about tackling climate and marine environment issues, and collaborating with others to protect our natural world. I would love to work for an international NGO, working in policy and research, to work towards achieving climate and social justice.  

    Who contributes the most to volunteering in Scotland?

    We’ll be exploring ‘Who contributes the most to volunteering in Scotland?’ in a free seminar on 7 September 2021. 

    Matthew and Debbie, from Volunteer Scotland, will share findings from their research published in January 2021. Using data from the Scottish Household Survey related to volunteering frequency and intensity, their analysis challenges our understanding of volunteer engagement across different demographic groups including age, gender, deprivation, income, education and health.

    This seminar will be of interest to anyone working in volunteering policy and practice – particularly those looking to promote the development of grassroots volunteering activity in Scottish communities.


    Never Mind the Football – the Midlothian Volunteer Awards are Coming Home!

    It’s been a month since the 2021 Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony took place online, and we are pleased to say that we have now managed to get the trophies and certificates into the hands of all our wonderful award winners and nominees. Here are a few pics of the trophies being handed over. It was a pleasure to work with everyone involved in the awards and to meet the winners in person. We look forward to doing it all again in years to come.

    Well done and thanks again everyone – winners AND nominees!

    Members of Art Club’s ‘Amazing Brains Committee’ receiving their Covid-19 Community Award.

    Ellie and Holly from the Midlothian Breastfeeding Alliance accepting the MBA’s award for voluntary work related to Health and Wellbeing.

    Gina from the Penicuik Ambassadors, who won the ‘Volunteer Team of the Year’ award. Gina was able to come to the Glencorse Centre with her daughter to collect the award at the same time as the MBA.

    Ricky Lloyd from Dalkeith Rugby Club accepting his award for Active Volunteering. Chris Boyle also jointly won this award for his hard work alongside Ricky.

    We wonder who got to take the award home!

    A member of the team from Food Facts Friends receiving the organisation’s certificate of nomination for the Covid-19 Community Award. Heather Mortimore from Food Facts Friends won the ‘Outstanding New Volunteer Award’.

    We delivered the certificate and trophy on the same day that some of the other trophies were handed over in the Penicuik area. Unfortunately, Heather wasn’t there at the time of drop off, but we hope she liked it when she got it!

    Samantha Gough, winner of the Saltire Summit Award for her dedicated volunteering with the children and families charity, Bright Sparks.

    We think Bramble the teddy looks very happy snuggling up with Samantha.

    Joseph Burke, Midlothian’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ 2021. Joseph won this award in recognition of the outstanding volunteer work he has done over the past 18 months on behalf of local mental health charity Health in Mind.

    Social Enterprise in the Spotlight: The Storehouse, Penicuik

    Fraser Waugh recently caught up with Aglaia Kempinski, the Community Development Manager at the Storehouse in Penicuik to talk about all things eco-friendly, organic, and how this store aims to take its customers on a sustainability journey. Let’s get our teeth (pun intended) into finding out all about The Storehouse:

    Tell us about your mission
    The Storehouse Penicuik sells goods that are good for people, the community and for the planet, always ethically sourced and local as possible. Everything we sell uses small-scale suppliers and short supply chains to ensure sustainability and traceability. Through this, and our customers shopping with us, we aim to be a pivot point in enabling people to live a more sustainable life.

    Tell us more about what is on offer at the Storehouse
    • A refillery within the shop for essential and organic produce, so customers only buy what they need and refill when they need to, vastly reducing plastic waste. This includes household supplies such as washing up liquid and shampoos/conditioners
    • We now have our café area back up and running serving freshly made cakes, toasties, sandwiches and hot drinks amongst other tasty treats to takeaway as well
    • Many shelves filled with fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, drinks, fresh meat and dairy, dried goods, and household supplies
    • A fruit and veg box scheme that can do deliveries within the local area
    • Locally- crafted gifts such as knitted goods, cards, jewellery and accessories
    • We now have a second-hand bookshop in store, catering to all genres and readers of any age.

    Penicuik Storehouse

    Tell us how you seek to be a hub for the community?
    We are a community-owned and led social enterprise with close relationships with our local customers and volunteers. We want the Storehouse to be a focal point not just for shopping but for community activities and learning.

    Volunteering is really important to us. It is all about volunteers building skills and providing an experience that customers will want to continue to be a part of and come back to. It’s a great place to develop skills that can be used in any retail capacity.

    The store is also all about giving back to nature as we take away from it. We have a gardening section within the store, where left-over seedlings can be donated, and ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables are sold instead of going to waste.

    How does someone go about volunteering at the storehouse? What roles could they get involved in?
    This is mainly a volunteer lead shop so volunteers could be doing a variety of different roles within the store- what you put in is what you get out of it! To get involved or if anyone requires more information, please contact hello@penicuikstorehouse.org

    The Penicuik Storehouse is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturday: 9:30am – 5:30pm and Sundays 10:30am – 3:00pm in Penicuik town centre. Make a small change to make a big difference!

    Winners of the 2021 Midlothian Volunteer Awards announced

    Penicuik Ambassadors, Volunteering Team of the Year

    To celebrate Volunteer’s Week 2021, Volunteer Midlothian held an online awards ceremony on the 3rd June attended by around 150 people. The ceremony was very different to the one we’re used to at Newbattle Abbey College, nonetheless it was still filled with love and admiration for Midlothian’s volunteers.  Many congratulations to all our hard-working winners this year, and to all our nominees – you’re simply the best, and you are ALL worthy of recognition!  

    The winners of the 2021 awards are as follows: 

    • Outstanding New Volunteer: Heather Mortimore from Food Facts Friends 
    • Befriender/Mentor of the Year: The Connect Project Volunteers from Volunteer Midlothian 
    • Active Volunteering: Chris Boyle and Ricky Lloyd of Dalkeith Rugby Football Club 
    • Health and Wellbeing Award: The Midlothian Breastfeeding Alliance 
    • Dedicated Service: Colette Pye from Mayfield and District Breastfeeding Support Group 
    • Covid-19 Community Award: The Amazing Brains Committee at Art Club 
    • Volunteer Manager of the Year: Naomi Knights from the Connect Project at Volunteer Midlothian 
    • Saltire Summit Award: Kyle Anderson, Eva Hesketh-Laird, Louise Gillespie, Melissa Reidie, Samantha Gough 
    • Volunteer of the Year: Joseph Burke of Health in Mind 
    • Volunteering Team of the Year: Penicuik Ambassadors 

    You can read more about all our nominees and winners here.  

    Thank You to Our Sponsors!

    If you’ve been keeping up with our recent news, you’ll be aware that every year in Midlothian we run a volunteer awards ceremony during Volunteers’ Week from the 1-7th June. The ceremony is an opportunity for us to say a huge thank you to all of Midlothian’s volunteers. However, we also need to say thanks to another important contributor – the people that help to make the awards possible in the first place. 

    We are grateful to have received sponsorship for seven of this year’s award categories from local organisations. Without the input of our sponsors, the Midlothian Volunteer Awards would be a much less exciting affair! As the circumstances do not permit us to offer our thanks in person, we want to show our appreciation digitally, to let others know that our sponsors really are amazing and very generous. 

    The award categories and sponsors are listed below.  

    Outstanding New volunteer – Scottish Fire and Rescue Service 

    Befriender or Mentor of the Year – Police Scotland 

    Active Volunteering Award – EDF  

    Health and Wellbeing Award – Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership 

    Dedicated Service to Volunteering – Esk Valley Rotary Club 

    Covid-19 Community Award – Midlothian Council 

    Volunteer Manager of the Year – Scottish Qualifications Authority 

    Third Sector Growth Fund: One to Watch Out For

    The Scottish Government’s Third Sector Growth Fund will provide loan funding of £30 million to social enterprises and charities in Scotland. The fund aims to help the sector access new forms of investment in order to grow. It also seeks to support our sector to recover from the pandemic and become more sustainable.

    Further details about the Third Sector Growth Fund, including what types of social enterprises and charities will be eligible for the funding, and details of how to apply, will be published later this spring. Check here for more.

    Volunteer Midlothian ‘Where’s the Bear?’ Competition Launches TODAY!

    Amber and the as-yet nameless bear!

    Volunteer Midlothian are running a ‘Name the Bear’ competition for primary schools in Midlothian starting TODAY, Monday 24th May. Our little furry friend is the mascot for the Midlothian Volunteer Awards, an annual ceremony that takes place during Volunteer’s Week at the beginning of June.

    The bear will be travelling around Midlothian over the next 11 days, visiting different beauty spots and places of interest, then popping up every day on Twitter using the hashtag #wheresthebear 

    Followers will be encouraged on Twitter and Facebook to guess the bear’s location. At the end of its journey on 3rd June, the bear will gain a new name voted for by participants at the Midlothian Volunteer Awards ceremony. The chosen name, based on entries from local primary school children, will win £100 for the school and will get to keep the bear!  

    The mascot competition is part of a campaign to increase awareness of Volunteers’ Week 2021 and to boost Volunteer Midlothian’s following on social media. We are keen for lots of people to join in and follow the bear on its travels. This is the first time Volunteer Midlothian have run a digital campaign, so YOUR help in making it a success is much needed! Please tell other local people about the bear, especially any families you may know whose children might want to have a go at naming the bear via the school they attend. All local primary school head teachers have been sent information about how to enter.

    For more information about how to take park contact Miriam at Volunteer Midlothian.


    Melissa Reidie

    Organisation: Girlguiding Scotland and Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts

    Melissa has shown an impressive commitment to volunteering, having completed four years in a leadership role for Girlguiding Scotland as well as inputting 477 hours for ‘Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts’ in Leith.  Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts takes surplus food and turns it into free healthy meals for people in need. The charity produced 409,751 meals from March-December 2020. Melissa gives 100% to her volunteering roles and, as a result, is highly regarded by those that know and have worked with her. Her contribution has been outstanding, and she is a real inspiration to others. Well done, Melissa! 

    Louise Gillespie

    Organisation: Salvation Army and Y2K in Mayfield and Easthouses

    Louise has shown real commitment to volunteering, achieving over 400 hours of Saltire certification by dedicating three days of her time each week to The Salvation Army Shop. This is in addition to the contribution she has made as a volunteer with Y2K. Despite being a naturally shy individual, Louise has been determined to not let this stand in the way of helping and motivating others. She is a truly incredible individual who puts others first and would be a very deserving winner of the Saltire Summit Award.

    Eva Hesketh-Laird

    Organisation: Glencorse Centre and Penicuik Storehouse

    Eva has put in a significant number of hours of volunteering, initially for the Glencorse Centre in Auchendinny and more recently for the Storehouse in Penicuik. A truly versatile individual taking on lots of roles, Eva has made a big impact and clearly wants the Storehouse to be the best it can possibly be. Her commitment, enthusiasm, and creation of ideas for improvement show how Eva strives for excellence for both the organisation and the customers it serves. She is a great asset to the Storehouse and to the wider community in Penicuik.

    Kyle Anderson

    Organisation: Loanhead Lego Club and Zoom Minecraft groups

    At just 16 years old, Kyle stands out as a truly inspirational young volunteer. He has shown real initiative in creating and delivering the Lego Club and, latterly during the pandemic, Zoom Minecraft clubs for children and young people. Kyle quickly realised that the Zoom sessions he was running were about more than just Minecraft. Indeed, they were also about reducing loneliness and isolation, positively impacting on the mental wellbeing of the other young people involved. Kyle’s dedication has been remarkable. He sets a brilliant example to other young would-be volunteers.

    Samantha Gough

    Organisation: Bright Sparks

    Samantha is a truly remarkable individual who has shown great dedication as a young volunteer. Not letting Covid-19 get in her way, Samantha has remained busy and motivated throughout the pandemic so far. She has put new ideas in place, delivering weekly ‘Bingo, Quiz and Craft’ sessions, as well as helping with food donations for children with disabilities and their families receiving support from Bright Sparks. Having attended Bright Sparks herself from the age of 18 months old, she has gone on to show loyalty and appreciation by giving back a phenomenal number of hours as a volunteer. The level of commitment this young woman has shown is truly impressive. Samantha would be a very worthy winner of a Saltire Summit Award.