• Tag: 2021

    Monika Dyczko

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    Monika Dyczko is the volunteer manager for Health in Mind’s Equal Access service in Midlothian and East Lothian. Monika recruits, trains, inducts, and supports a wide variety of peer volunteers. She started as a volunteer herself with Health in Mind, providing befriending support for people from minority ethnic communities. Monika is an inspiration to her volunteers. Notably, two of the volunteers she has recruited and trained have successfully applied for paid positions and are now volunteer managers themselves.

    Michael Huddleston

    Nominated by: Alzheimer Scotland

    Michael is responsible for managing a team of volunteers in Midlothian, ensuring that Alzheimer Scotland activities are well run and volunteers are properly supported and informed. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Michael managed a small befriending service and very quickly developed a Telephone Companion Service when the nation went into lockdown. Michael supports 5 key volunteers who have provided an incredible 1100+ calls for 18 people and their carers during the pandemic. He provides the volunteers with regular updates and close support and supervision. He also creates time for peer support and organised an online ‘Volunteer Gathering’ during Volunteers’ Week in June 2020.

    Mark Wells

    Nominated by: Food Facts Friends

    Mark is the founder, manager and driving force behind Food Facts Friends (FFF), which operates a foodbank and offers advice services to those in need. Mark is a remarkable person – unselfish of his time, determined and very persuasive when necessary. It was his resolve to continue to provide food for the most vulnerable in the community that enabled FFF to overcome the considerable challenges of the past year. As elderly team members shielded, he took on and trained their replacements. In the following months he and his highly motivated team succeeded in meeting an incredible seven-fold increase in demand.

    Gorebridge Resilience Partnership

    Nominated by: Gorebridge Development Trust

    Gorebridge Resilience Partnership is a team of local organisations that led the Covid-19 community response in Gorebridge during the pandemic. These volunteers put themselves before the most vulnerable in the local community during what was a frightening and anxious time for everyone. No questions. No hesitation. The group’s work wasn’t just about responding to the crisis of the pandemic; it was also about dignity, respect and community spirit.

    Food Facts Friends Volunteers

    Nominated by: Food Facts Friends

    The volunteers at Food Facts Friends (FFF) have provided food for the most vulnerable in the community since 2016. They have also risen to the considerable additional challenges and demands of the past year to provide for many others. Working long hours receiving and organising food, making up food bags while following health and safety procedures and doing all the extra cleaning necessary for Covid-19 purposes, they satisfied a huge increase in demand as the closure of other services, furlough and unemployment were felt by the community. Even at the present time, demand is still 4 – 5 times what it was a year earlier, but the FFF volunteers have more than risen to the challenge.

    Grant Stanley

    Nominated by: Councillor Paulin Winchester, Midlothian Council

    Grant set up a Facebook group called ‘Our Stars Family’ in 2020. The group provided live entertainment every weekend, raised money for numerous good causes and kept people better connected and supported during the pandemic. The group he created wasn’t just an entertainment page – it also turned into an online community where people could chat or express how they were feeling, where someone would always be happy to listen and give support throughout the tough months of lockdown. True to the name of his Facebook group, Grant is an absolute star!

    Vernon Miles

    Nominated by: Midlothian Voluntary Action

    Vernon has made his mark as a ‘litter picker’ over the past year in Bonnyrigg, inspiring and influencing others in the community to care about the environment so that everyone could enjoy it during lockdown. He only recently moved to Bonnyrigg and has shown a personal commitment to making the community a nicer, safer place for humans and for nature. During a time when many people have felt helpless and found it difficult to see beyond the pandemic, Vernon found an individually powerful way to take environmental action. He deserves to be recognised for that.

    Penicuik Community Development Trust

    Nominated by: Midlothian Council Communities and Lifelong Learning

    Since its formation, the Penicuik Community Development Trust’s volunteers have been involved in a wide range of activities that have supported social, cultural, heritage and more recently resilience activities in the local community. They have developed a diverse range of initiatives, raised funding and provided education, entertainment and training opportunities for the town’s residents. They continue to develop new initiatives, working closely in partnership with a diverse range of other local organisations, and would be a worthy winner of this year’s ‘Dedicated Service’ volunteering award.

    Jim Ralston

    Nominated by: Owen Thompson MP

    Jim has been Captain of the 1st Loanhead Boys Brigade (BB) for 12 years and has changed the lives of many Midlothian young people for the better. He has been instrumental in BB activities such as competitions, awards and fundraising in the local community and beyond. This includes Project Steadfast, a Boys Brigade charity project which led to the building of St Andrews School and Disabled Centre in Oloolua Ngong, Kenya. Jim has put his heart and soul into his role during his time with the BB.

    Maggie Palmer

    Nominated by: Home Link Family Support

    Maggie trained as a Volunteer Befriender with Home Link Family Support in late 2016 and began supporting vulnerable families at the start of 2017. The support she has given has been through home visits, when allowed, and by phone. Sometimes families have needed a good listener. At other times her input has been to encourage play and interaction with little ones, or to help with managing the specific needs of the family. Maggie listens attentively, takes her responsibilities seriously and is a dedicated volunteer who imparts great wisdom and understanding to her clients.

    David Thornton

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    Davie is a long-standing volunteer in many roles. He often takes the lead with outdoor group activities including gardening and conservation, supporting others to take part. He has been one of Health in Mind’s mainstay cafe volunteers, providing home cooked meals and sharing his warmth and good humour with the people we support. He always remembers Health in Mind’s hard-working staff, making sure they have a meal kept for them when they are caught up in their work and not able to stop. Davie is a very practical man and his skills in decorating, gardening and repair are appreciated by the entire staff team at Health in Mind.

    Connect Online Volunteers

    Nominated by: Volunteer Midlothian

    Connect Online is a project that matches volunteers with older people who want to learn digital skills. This might involve using a laptop, iPad, electronic tablet, smart phone or smart speaker. Volunteers support learners at groups or in a one-to-one match. Currently the Connect Online volunteers are still offering remote support via telephone, video call or Zoom group. They have made such a difference this year in keeping people connected and helping to promote digital inclusion, particularly when so many other activities have had to stop. They deserve a very big, digital, ‘thank you’!

    Jim Paterson

    Nominated by: Food Facts Friends

    Jim has been involved in Food Facts Friends (FFF) as treasurer since 2016 but has expanded his role considerably over the past four years. He applies for grants, creates promotional materials, prints posters and is the person responsible for all our social media. He helped with FFF’s move to its new premises and his hard work was extremely valuable during the very busy months of 2020, when the demands on the foodbank increased sevenfold and new sources of cash/food had to be urgently found to maintain the foodbank service.

    Green Prescribing Garden Buddies

    Nominated by: Cyrenians

    Cyrenians Green Prescribing team have been involved in buddying and befriending activity throughout the pandemic in the garden at the Midlothian Community Hospital. The Volunteer Buddies gave their time and energy to visit the garden and support others, listening to people who were struggling through a period of extreme uncertainty when everyone was finding things difficult. They have been nominated in recognition of all their hard work, energy and – most of all – their unwavering compassion and respect.

    Lauren and Josie from the Art and Craft in Wellbeing Group

    Nominated by: Health in Mind

    Lauren and Josie co-facilitate the ‘Art and Craft in Wellbeing’ group, which came about after Health in Mind’s wellbeing services moved online due to the pandemic. These sessions initially ran for 6 weeks but were so successful that they continued in the longer term. The group has offered activities to over 20 participants, including mindfulness sessions, felting, basket making, origami and colour theory. Lauren and Josie are interested in exploring how creativity can promote wellbeing both individually and more widely across communities and society. These two highly creative volunteers deserve recognition for the positive contribution they have made.