Credit: Colin Hattersley Photography

Charities and individuals from across Scotland have been recognised for the life-changing difference they make at the 2019 Scottish Charity Awards, which took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Friday 14 June.

Organised annually by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Awards celebrate the amazing work that people within charities and community groups do every day, all over the country, to help those in need and raise awareness of important causes.

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “A huge congratulations to our winners and all of this year’s finalists. Each of the 44 individuals and organisations shortlisted make a huge difference to the communities they work with, and I’m delighted that we have been able to bring the voluntary sector together to both recognise and celebrate their achievements. We received a record-breaking 34,810 votes for the People’s Choice Award so I would also like to thank all those who contributed to the evening by voting for their favourite person or organisation. A wonderful night had by all.”

This year 44 finalists were shortlisted, nine won awards and an additional four received special commendations for their work. The winners are:

  • Charity of the Year: Drake Music Scotland

As Scotland’s leading disability music organisation, Drake Music Scotland supports over 1,000 disabled children and adults to play music and sing, reducing isolation, boosting confidence and improving wellbeing. In 2018, the team took their Digital Orchestra to Singapore to perform on the international stage for the first time, reaching an audience of over 10,000. The team is currently helping to develop a range of music instrument technologies which are played by movements of the eyes, facial muscles and even brainwaves. Thursa Sanderson OBE, Drake Music Scotland Chief Executive, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be chosen as Scottish Charity of the Year.  Last year was our 20th Anniversary and a huge year for us with our Digital Orchestra trip to Singapore taking the message to the world that disabled people make great music!  We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us in any way over the years, our staff, our fantastic team of musicians, Board, volunteers and our wonderful partners.”

  • People’s Choice Award: Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA)

Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance saves lives. As the country’s only charity-funded air ambulance, every day the team are able to fly expert paramedic care straight to the scene of serious illness of injury, and fly patients onto hospital. Hundreds of patients – of all ages – have been attended to by the SCAA – in the past year alone, the dedicated crew has responded to 325 emergencies. David Craig, Chief Executive of the SCAA, said: “SCAA is the People’s Helicopter air ambulance – funded by the people of Scotland, for the people of Scotland. Now, to be voted the People’s Choice charity in Scotland, is overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who voted for Scotland’s only charity-funded air ambulance – we’re there for everyone in Scotland and it’s humbling to see that the public is always there for us. This award means the world to everyone at SCAA and we will take great pride in being your choice charity for 2019.” 

  • Leading Light: Toni Giugliano – Mental Health Foundation

Toni co-ordinated the first ever landmark light-up for Mental Health Awareness Week in Scotland, putting suicide prevention back on Scotland’s political agenda through lobbying and high-impact campaigns. He has given people a voice – particularly families bereaved by suicide, many who felt powerless in achieving the change they want to see. Anne Hunter, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We are delighted that our Policy Manager Toni Giugliano has picked up the prestigious ‘Leading Light’ Award for his important work on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation Scotland. This award is testament to his hard work and commitment in working to ensure mental health is firmly on the political agenda across Scotland at both a local and national level.”

A Special Commendation was awarded to Fatima Ramzan from the Dundee International Women’s Centre.

  • Charity Champion: Laura Reid – Support in Mind Scotland

Laura’s son Calum was 21 when he took his own life after struggling with mental illness.  In response to this tragedy, Laura has embarked on an admirable campaign of positivity, rallying support and raising mental health awareness and funds for Support in Mind Scotland. She continues to bravely share her own experience to help and inspire others, particularly young men who feel unable to seek support if or when they need it. Colin Leslie, Fundraising and Communications Manager at Support in Mind Scotland, said: “We are absolutely thrilled and proud that Laura has won the prestigious Charity Champion award, particularly when you see from the other finalists just how much amazing work is going on across Scotland in the third sector. Laura and her family suffered a tragic loss when her son Calum took his own life, but she has campaigned with great positivity and determination to support mental health awareness and to help others people living with mental illness. This award is recognition for her work and the tremendous support she has received from the Dunfermline community and beyond.”

  • Cracking Campaign: Marie Curie and MND Scotland – ‘Social Security in Scotland – a fair definition of ‘terminal illness’’

This campaign aimed to ensure that Scotland’s new social security system included a fairer definition of terminal illness than the current UK requirement, which requires some of society’s most vulnerable people to prove they have just six months left to live. Thanks to support from the public, voluntary sector organisations and academics, the Social Security (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously on 25 April 2018 with the best-case scenario for terminally ill people. Susan Brown, Policy & Public Affairs Manager Scotland, Marie Curie and Susan Webster, Head of Policy & Campaigns, MND Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to accept this award. The campaign’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable contribution from our supporters as well as colleagues across the third sector. While we are delighted to have helped improve the benefits system for people in Scotland from 2020, we now hope that Westminster will change its definition of terminal illness in social security legislation to improve the lives of people across the UK.”

A Special Commendation was awarded to Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust (MAEDT) for the ‘I’m Back Caring – Clean the River’ campaign.

  • Pioneering Project Move On – Family Food Service

This project fights hunger in an innovative and dignified way by providing essential food and support for community meals and activities. It removes the stigma for vulnerable families who may be reluctant to access food through foodbanks, and so far has provided over 100,000 meals to children and their families through community activities. By working with partner organisations, Move On have created a network in Glasgow which enables collaborative approaches to innovative and sustainable solutions.  Charlene Moore, Marketing and Communications Officer, said:“We are delighted our Family Food Service has been chosen for the Pioneering Project Award! As a relatively new project we are proud to be recognised for the significant impact we have already made in the communities we work in. We could not have achieved this without the support of staff and volunteers from our fantastic network of partners.” 

A Special Commendation was awarded to Intercultural Youth Scotland for their ‘Equality, equity & justice!’ Project.

  • Celebrating Communities: Give a Dog a Bone… and an animal a home

Tackling loneliness through animal companionship, this unique charity supports the over 60s to afford a rescue pet companion. The team has helped hundreds of older adults and rescue animals to have a happier life, together, and it’s a win-win – the person gets a friend and the animal gets a home. Already they have expanded their remit to include a Community Space project where they offer retired people a safe space to make new friend and learn new skills. Founder Louise Russell said: “We are blown away to win a Scottish Charity Award!  Having spent the last five years changing the lives of both older adults and rescue animals alike, this feels like important recognition for our work!  Thank you to everyone who believes in us and has shown support over the years!”

A Special Commendation was awarded to Bridgend Farmhouse.

  • Terrific Trustee: Megan Sutherland – Who Cares? Scotland

Megan has experienced kinship, residential, foster and supported care placements, and became a member of Who Cares? Scotland when she needed advocacy at the age of 15. Her passion for equality, rights, belonging and believing in people inspired her to join the board at 17 and it continues to guide her work as its Vice Chair four years later. Megan said: “I’m overwhelmed and thrilled to win this prestigious award. Thank you to everyone who has supported and taught me. I hope it symbolises the value of having diversity in the boardroom and lived experience at the heart of social change, and the power of lasting relationships in enabling care experienced people to be able to reach their full potential.”

  • Demonstrating Digital: ENABLE Scotland

ENABLEMe is a free assisted travel app, designed to support individuals who have learning disabilities to develop their life skills and become independent travellers. The app includes a host of accessibility features including Easy Read and Text to Speech, and it is hoped that it will enable people with learning disabilities to overcome barriers to opportunities such as training or work. Paul O’Kane, ENABLE Scotland, said: “We are absolutely delighted and honoured to have won this award from SCVO – the development of this ground-breaking app has been a real partnership between our team, JP Morgan and most importantly the people who now use it. This award is testament to all of them and to the real impact it is having on supporting people to live more independently.”