Charities and individuals from across Scotland have been recognised for the life-changing difference they make at the 2017 Scottish Charity Awards, which took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre tonight (Thursday 22 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.

Shulah Allan, Convener of SCVO, said: “I’m in awe of all the finalists and winners. Thanks to their efforts, more people in Scotland are receiving the support they need when they need it and we’re all more aware of important issues, and causes, which affect vulnerable people, and us all.”

The winners are:

  • Charity of the Year: Street Soccer Scotland

Football is a common denominator and a universal language. By providing free football drop-in sessions 365 days a year for some of Scotland’s most socially excluded people, Street Soccer Scotland motivate them by building their confidence, providing an environment where friendships can be built and encourage them to make a positive change in their lives. On receiving the award, David Duke Founder and CEO Street Soccer Scotland, said: “It is a great honour to receive this award. We would like to dedicate it to all our staff and volunteers who work 365 days a year to try and make our vision a reality. We also would like to dedicate it to our players who every day find motivation to change their lives for the better and overcome real struggles like homelessness and mental health issues.”

  • Leading Light: Celine Sinclair, The Yard

Celine is a committed advocate for disabled children and leads and inspires The Yard team with her passion and dedication every day. She is well known in the third sector as an expert in play and disability, and is able to make families, staff and volunteers feel at home, replicating The Yard’s unique culture and atmosphere from Edinburgh into Dundee and Fife. Celine said: “During The Yard’s 30th anniversary year, and after ten years as Chief Executive here, I am absolutely delighted to win this award. The endorsement of my colleagues means a lot and I hope it will help us reach more people with the services we offer at The Yard. My vision is access to safe and adventurous play opportunities for all of Scotland’s disabled children, so it is great to see play and disability being recognised as important issues in our sector. Thank you to all of The Yard’s funders, supporters, staff, volunteers and families.”

  • Charity Champion: Laura Young, Teapot Trust

Through her work with the Teapot Trust, Laura has made hospitals less daunting for children and their families by providing art therapy, which has empowered them and introduced them to new skills. It makes the experience of visiting the hospital more positive and reduces anxiety in children during injections, blood tests and other invasive medical treatments. Laura said: ‘I feel so honoured to receive the Charity Champions Award. It’s such a great reflection on the work that all of our art therapists are doing and the generosity of donors. I’m rather embarrassed as what I do for the Teapot Trust is so rewarding, it often doesn’t feel like work.’

  • Cracking Campaign: #IncludED in the Main?! – ENABLE Scotland

Through #IncludED in the Main?!, ENABLE Scotland set out to listen to and amplify the voices of over 800 young people who have learning disabilities, as well as their parents and teachers. Those voices prompted systemic change in Scottish Education for pupils who have learning disabilities, resulting in the Scottish Government publishing guidance on inclusive education. On receiving the award, Jan Savage, Executive Director of Campaigns & External Affairs, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win the Cracking Campaign award for #IncludED in the Main?! this was a campaign that listened to and amplified the voices of 800 young people who have learning disabilities, their parents, and teachers, and has prompted systemic change in Scottish Education. I would like to thank everyone who supported #IncludED in the Main, from our members to MSPs, collectively we have initiated change that will spell a more inclusive future for the next generation of people who have learning disabilities.”

  • Pioneering Project: C-change Scotland – dates-n-mates

dates-n-mates is Scotland’s first dating and friendship agency run by and for adults with learning disabilities. The project improves members’ well-being and quality of life by reducing social isolation, improving confidence, improving self-esteem and creating opportunities for individuals who want to be in control of making decisions about their lives and relationships. On receiving the award, Sheryl Walker, PR & Projects Development Manager, said: “On behalf of C-Change Scotland I would like to say how extremely honoured and grateful we are to receive such a tremendous award. The recognition is very important to the dates-n-mates Scotland project and would not have been possible without the support of the dates-n-mates teams, our partners and of course all of our amazing members.”

  • Celebrating Communities: Dunaverty Hall Committee

The committee is made up of ordinary people committed to working for their community, giving up many hours of their time to improve the lifestyle and conditions for Southend residents and providing them with a safe, warm place to enjoy leisure activities.  The group have also addressed issues in the community such as isolation, lack of facilities and social interaction. On receiving the award, Mrs Margaret McDowall – Treasurer to Dunaverty Hall Committee, said: “On behalf of the Dunaverty Hall Committee, I would like to say how thrilled we are to win this prestigious award.  We have only been able to achieve this thanks to the thousands of people who’ve supported us, the dedication and hard work of our committee and the support of our community.”

  • Terrific Trustee: Bobath Scotland

James Campbell was Chairman of Bobath Scotland from 2009 until 2016, and now continues to pursue a fundraising ambassadorial role.  He led the charity through a period of significant turnaround including recruiting a new CEO, strengthening the knowledge and skills of the board, turning a loss of £192k into a surplus financial position, transitioning into a SCIO and ensuring good governance. Jim said: “I am overwhelmed to have received this award.  Thank you.  The transformation of Bobath Scotland has been a team effort and I am very proud of all that has been achieved and continues to be achieved to help those in Scotland with cerebral palsy.  I am conscious that it is only by working together that we are able to achieve such progress. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the rest of the trustees and all those involved for their dedication and commitment.”

  • Demonstrating Digital: Drake Music Scotland

Drake Music Scotland believes everyone should have an equal opportunity to make music, and are the nation’s leading disability music organisation. Since 1997 they have created opportunities for over 13,000 children and adults with disabilities to play music, and one of the first organisations to help disabled people use iPads as musical instruments. On receiving the award, Pete Sparkes, Artistic Director said: “Thank you so much for this amazing award that recognises our pioneering work finding digital solutions to support disabled people to make music independently.  None of this would be possible without the dedication of our staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to remove barriers to music making for everyone.”

  • People’s Choice Award: Gordon’s Fightback – MND Scotland

Gordon Aikman died of Motor Neurone Disease in February after a three year battle with the condition.  His campaigning transformed MND care, raising over £600,000 towards finding a cure and doubling the number of NHS-funded MND nurses in Scotland. Patients who lose their voice also now have a legal right to speech equipment through the health service. Lawrence Cowan, Chair of MND Scotland, said: “I miss Gordon everyday. It’s wonderful that Gordon’s achievements have been celebrated with this award.  What the Gordon’s Fightback campaign has achieved is remarkable – patients with MND see their nurses more often and for longer and there are also more researchers in Scotland searching for a cure.” Joe Pike, Gordon’s husband, said: “I would love to have seen the expression on Gordon’s face as he was announced as the winner of this award. I would have loved to have heard the speech – the powerful speech – he would have given. But Gordon is gone – MND kills, and it kills fast. Yet this award is a wonderful tribute to his incredible campaigning, and we will continue with Gordon’s Fightback until a cure for MND is found.”

More photos are available at http://www.scvo.org.uk/scottish-charity-awards-2017/ .