Winner Announcement: Innovation in the Face of Adversity Award

Introducing our Innovation in the Face of Adversity Award Winners

Without the Wee County’s ever-widening array of groups and organisations, we would not have as many volunteers rallied to support those in need when the call for assistance went out. The expertise, leadership, and ingenuity they bring in tackling widespread issues is found in the leaders of these groups. That is why this year each of the groups nominated will be receiving the Innovation in the Face of Adversity award. 

The idea behind this award was simply to honour the immense selflessness embodied by the organisations that attracts volunteers to their respective missions. Like the volunteers, those who run the biggest and the smallest of groups will have made countless sacrifices to keep vital services running for recipients who need them, at a time when the easiest response would be to close and wait the pandemic out, groups stepped up bringing ingenious solutions to novel problems. So to every group mentioned, THANK YOU! 

  1. The Crafty Kids team provided boxes to the community of Clackmannanshire ever since the start of lockdown in April 2020. To date, the team have delivered well over 3,500 boxes! Crafty Kids has delivered over 3500 boxes to date! The team have just secured a further £60,000 in funding to help them employ a Business Development Manager to take the initiative to the next level, to make it into a longer-term endeavour for the community. WELL DONE! 
  1. Clackmannanshire Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) continued to provide free, confidential and impartial advice and also meet the increased demand for this advice while changing to remote working and service delivery throughout the pandemic. As the fallout from lockdowns meant that free, confidential and impartial advice was needed more than ever. All of which was provided by the volunteers and staff who gave over 3,000 Clacks residents advice on over 20,000 issues. Their ability to switch to remote working quickly and effectively also allowed them to support the CAB network nationally by advising on Scotland’s Citizens Advice Helpline. All which was not possible without with the team of volunteers and staff! Well done! 
  1. The Wee County Veterans are a small group of passionate volunteers with a single mission, to support veterans in the local community. It is run by a team of ex-service personnel who, during the pandemic, collected and distributed food to homes of their service users, with a focus on reducing isolation and supporting the mental health of those they help. They saw the needs were changing as the pandemic took hold and adapted to alleviate the problems being experienced. To Johanna and her team, thank you for your continued service to the community! 
  1. Throughout the past year the group of volunteers at The Braveheart Association have kept working on in the face of the numerous difficult challenges presented to them by the pandemic. The group have learnt to communicate in new ways such as via Zoom and Microsoft Teams just to keep in touch. Many sought to keep in touch with clients and indeed went out of their way to deliver food parcels and information leaflets. Many have undertaken further duties such as supporting people on 1-2-1 walks to keep their fitness up both physically and mentally. You are a testament to volunteering in a pandemic, thank you! 
  1. The Playpen Café’s Lunch Club at Home project and its offshoot branch in Dollar were founded by Alexandra Ostroumoff-Croucher, created to not only provide the heartiest home cooking dishes and treats to the elderly forced to isolate and shield at home from society during Covid, but ended up connecting the local community through good, healthy food. Her initiative ultimately led to the reduction of isolation and loneliness among the most vulnerable. Throughout, the project has garnered many fantastic volunteers, who help in the preparation and cooking of the meals, as well that others joined as dedicated drivers who then deliver bags of delicious food twice weekly throughout the pandemic. No easy feat, but an amazing achievement nonetheless! These are just some of the many reasons why The Lunch Club at Home project is receiving the Innovation in the Face of Adversity Award! Congratulations! 
  1. For many, the cold winter months of the pandemic were the hardest, so during November and early December Ochil Youth Community Improvements (OYCI) ran the ‘Operation Christmas Cheer’ project which sought to spread cheer in the community. Two groups of young people were involved: Group 1 created and distributed hearts made of yarn to organisations who worked with vulnerable people. 150 hearts were made by young people and distributed, each with an inspirational message. Group 2, consisted of 12 young people who met every Sunday to plan, rehearse and film a short festive film to upload on to social media. The film was viewed over 2,500 times across all OYCI’s social platforms. All the young people involved in both strands of the project were dedicated to creating something that would bring some hope and cheer to the community and we think they did a smashing job – receiving feedback such as from one lady who has had a terrible year with covid said it had cheered her up and she loved it, she put the heart up in her front room. Another elderly, lady told us she was really touched to get it and thought it was a lovely idea, where she fittingly said, “well done OYCI!” 
  1. The Gate’s Foodbank team have been exceptional in their delivery of services during normal times. Collecting, sorting, delivering, and distributing food parcels to support people throughout Clackmannanshire. However, over the last year, the volunteers have worked exceptionally hard to support the most vulnerable even further, with great risk to ensure that those most affected by the pandemic were supported. They sought to ensure that no one will go hungry by preparing food and delivering parcels. They even extended the foodbank’s opening hours by opening at the weekend to provide emergency food parcels to those in need. The volunteers worked long hours and supported the most vulnerable affected by the virus but also the existing pre-covid clients. This team absolutely deserves the recognition for all their hard work as sometimes a simple thank you is never enough for such a group of heroes, who took risks daily to ensure that people in the Wee County were supported. 
  1. The Gate’s Soup Pot team have been operating for more than 10 years.  With volunteers providing free food and drinks, as well as recycled clothing and toiletry sets to those experiencing hardship.  The volunteers’ hard work to support various groups of vulnerable people affected by addiction, mental health conditions, homelessness, and other marginalised conditions.  Each year they provide the service users with a full Christmas Dinner and a gift to help them throughout the festive period when times are often not so happy for some who living within Clackmannanshire.  During Covid, due to Government restrictions the volunteers insisted in provided a service to continue to support this vulnerable group via take away.  It was essential that basic needs were met and volunteers worked hard to keep in touch with service users so that they knew there was still somewhere for people to go throughout the national crisis.  They knew that sometimes a listening ear is simply all that someone needs.  The soup pot team provide more than just food.  They provide a friendly face, a listening ear and advice/information when people need additional support to meet with their multiple needs. A job well done, thank you! 
  1. Sauchie Community Group have done so much to help their community throughout the pandemic. Despite the restrictions, its fabulous team have managed to keep going, online such as through Tiny Tots tiny tots group or other small groups including the folk singing, knitting, arts and crafts, carpet bowls, gardening, a community choir, dementia singing group, a film club, a monthly soup and sandwich club, the veterans group and more. All of which have a profound role in connecting and supporting the isolated, and lonely or those just looking to stay connected to the community. Their work recently received national acclaim and have been growing in name recognition. So, from the Wee County, a massive thank you to all you have done so far! 
  1. Opening More Doors is an Alva-based group of older people who have been raising funds and spreading awareness of other local Charities and projects for 20 years. Each year they choose 3 charities and then organise events to raise between £10,000 and £12,000 in funds. To date they have helped over 20 organisations! This year they are supporting local groups like Home Start, Ochils Mountain Rescue Team, and Maggie’s Forth Valley. The group cook, donate and keeping the awareness of these groups going by producing a newsletter each month. Kit and her group are a lifeline to many small groups who do not have the financial flexibility as the bigger more established organisations. To Kit, and the whole group: Thank You!!  
  1. The Wee County’s only community radio station has been a supporter of the Third Sector since it first came onto the airwaves last year. Forth Valley Radio has grown to include 16 presenters each week, supported by a technical team all of which are housed on the Tillicoultry High Street. Broadcasting 24 hours, 7 days a week, the range of shows on offer cover every type of music style and taste.  From Country to Rock, Northern Soul to Easy Listening, a show dedicated to the music of Abba and from Dance to Ceilidh.  There’s a weekly Breakfast show and a Football Phone in show on a Saturday afternoon with regular guest interviews with top ex professional footballers. The flagship show on the station is a three hour-long slot every Friday evening dedicated to the music and fans of the Bay City Rollers.  This show, courtesy of the power and reach of the internet, has a global audience! Roller’s fans from every corner of the world join Steve and his Production Manager fiancé Llinos (aka Miss Williams) to keep on dancing to the Rollers and to keep their musical legacy alive. Everyone involved with the station is a volunteer, all hailing from the local area, ensuring that local community news is broadcasted and talked about, where the Presenters on FVR have featured interviews with dozens of local people giving them a platform to showcase their organisations and voluntary work across the local area and wider world. They are an asset to the community, and keeping those living in the Wee County informed, and having navigated the last year’s uncertainty they are now live and look forward to using the year’s experiences to shape their bright future! Well done and thank you for all you are doing in the community!  
  1. The Home-Start team in Clackmannanshire went above and beyond for Home-Start families and other local people over the past year, to ensure those that needed help where supported. Emotional support was provided to families in many ways, including on the doorstep, in a garden, a local park, a coffee shop, or on the telephone or social media. The team provided some practical support such as food parcels, care packs, technology and clothing/household items also helped families get through the day. Meanwhile, Home-Start’s Trustees did an amazing job reacting to the effects of the pandemic and worked tirelessly to ensure the team were supported fully, and thoroughly carried out their legal duties. The ‘on the ground’ team ventured out in all weathers to ensure no family was left out. The team adapted quickly to ensure nobody’s support was interrupted, all of which was done with a tremendous attitude and a much-needed sense of humour! With that, the Wee County thanks you for your service and hard work!  
  1. The Connect Alloa Team managed to swiftly move from face-to-face work to online without missing a single session. They took on various different roles in securely setting up the online platform ‘Discord’ and made changes as events progressed. Not only did Connect Alloa continue to provide twice weekly youth provisions, but even extended it to be 3 times a week and done their best to keep online activities fresh, exciting and interesting for their young people. Furthermore, they created evaluation forms to learn from the results by adjusting the group to be suitable for all attendees. The Project Leader also made a point of staying in touch with young people and parents and try to re-engage people where it was felt they had less communication than ideally suitable. The Digital Engagement Worker has done a great job in keeping Connect Alloa in the public eye on social media and online, allowing people to see updates and stay in touch should they choose, and the dedicated Funding Team have applied for covid relief funds allowing Connect Alloa to employ staff, buy PPE and purchase technology to benefit the entire group. The Trustees continue to make hard decisions for the benefit of the charity which have meant deciding when to have inperson meetings again. Without each member of the team, Connect Alloa may have survived Covid, but it would not be the thriving and ready to come back venture as they are now. Well done to everyone at Connect Alloa! 
  1. 2020 was a difficult and strange year for everyone but particularly for the Breathe Easy Clackmannanshire members and their families. This group of local people with life threatening illnesses had built up a recognised community who supported each other and shared their experiences through friendship and encouragement. They chatted about their problems, enjoyed outings, and attended regular meetings to help raise their spirits. 2020 was to have been a milestone celebration for the tenth anniversary of the group.  However, in the face of adversity the Breathe Easy chairperson, members and trustees faced these difficult challenges together. Through an impressive range of regular interaction and dedication to “making things happen” the volunteers managed to organise a year of accomplishments that helped to keep the members involved and included. From regular phone calls, to donations, goodie bags at Christmas, and producing a bi-monthly newsletter plus so much more. They have protected one another, while doing what they can to protect others. They have embodied the essence of volunteering and deserve to be recognised for their achievements! So thank you to each and every one of your team, you have made a difference! 
  2. Those working the health sector have undoubtedly faced much of the difficulties in the past year. The area’s own Community Health Champions have maintained their interest and commitment despite the difficult circumstances of the pandemic. They have waited until late 2020 to have training allowing them to start working in communities. Throughout have provided each other with support over Covid and have developed their own roles within communities and the group. The Champions have gone above and beyond in supporting individuals looking for help, while others made connections between community groups and statutory services, as well as building an online presence through designing their own logo and setting up a WhatsApp group. The group continues to plan online activities and are looking forward to meeting up in the physical world. The Champions have not only been a championing the community, but champions themselves, by adapting to the challenges and showing a stronger desire to help the community. Thank you! 
  1. Volunteering Matters’ very own Covid-19 Responders were drafted from the existing hospital assistance volunteers, but eventually they were joined by new people, many volunteering for the first team, and we formed our “Clacks Covid Responders”.  Over the last year the Covid-19 Responders have been incredible. 122 volunteers from Clacks and the surrounding had been mobilised quickly and effectively, carrying out essential roles to support those in most need. Their duties included collecting and dropping off prescriptions, food shopping, telephone befriending, welfare checks, offering IT and technical support to get people online and even walking dogs whose owners could not go outside. Finally, the Covid-19 responders provided invaluable support to the NHS which had been inundated with those suffering from the pandemic, Volunteering Matters were asked to provide volunteers to the minor injuries’ unit and a GP surgery.  Responders helped people during visits to the hospital/surgery, by manning entrance doors, signposting people, dealing with enquires and removing some of the burden from NHS staff. This had been set up initially at Stirling Care Village and then replicated at Falkirk Community Hospital and the Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre where volunteers have supported the NHS during visiting hours, ensuring the public are wearing face masks, sanitising their hands, following social distancing rules and staying safe. This volunteer support has enabled NHS professionals to dedicate more of their time to caring for those most vulnerable. To all the volunteers in the project, thank you! 

There are so many groups that do their work without recognition. We want you to know that we are thanking you too! Wherever you are and whatever your mission is, your work is valued and deeply appreciated by the Wee County!! 

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