Monthly Archives: November 2013

Saltire Awards Recognise Young Volunteers

Five volunteers at a Mossburn community organisation have been recognised for their efforts.

Volunteers and their certificates

Sara Cummings, Rebecca Penman, Kayliegh Warwick, Juanita Wilson (Manager, Mossburn Community Farm), David Coulter (CEO, Third Sector First), Chireille Scott, Stacey Pointer (Saltire Ambassador, Third Sector First).
Photo credit: Bob Geddes

The young people volunteer at Mossburn Community Farm, Hightae, which looks after misused, abused, neglected and unwanted animals, ranging from the domestic to the exotic. Now their volunteering work has been rewarded with a Saltire Award.

Rebecca Penman, Chireille Scott and Sara Cummings have achieved awards for completing 500 hours of volunteering, while Emily Mears and Kayleigh Warwick have achieved their 100 hour awards.

Together the five young people have given over 1700 hours of their time to Mossburn Community Farm – that is equivalent to 212 working days.

Says Juanita Wilson of the farm: “As a voluntary organisation, volunteers are essential to us. They make the charity what it is and without them we wouldn’t be able to care for all the animals we do.”

The time given by the young people helps to improve the quality of life for the animals by ensuring they are fed, watered and cleaned out. Rebecca says the most memorable moment for her was when she found Treena, a one hour old foal in the field one morning. For Kayleigh, her most memorable moment was when she met Treena and was able to help her learn to suckle.

Volunteering has brought all of the young people greater confidence and has allowed them to make new friends.

David Coulter, Chief Executive of Third Sector First in Dumfries, which delivers the awards in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of voluntary organisations and charities and we are proud to support these awards which recognise all the hard work put in by young people. Without volunteers many community organisations simply couldn’t carry on their essential work and Dumfries and Galloway would be very much poorer for that.”

The Saltire Awards recognise the contribution of young volunteers in Scotland and are open to all young people aged 12 to 25. To find out more and to enter visit

Find out more about Mossburn Community Farm at

Anyone interested in volunteering in Dumfries and Galloway can contact Third Sector First to find out more about local opportunities at


MPs put their money where their mouth is

Parliamentary LMCU logostaff, including MPs, can pay into a credit union via payroll deduction, thanks to a new service launched on Monday 25th November.

Agreements with the Parliamentary authorities mean that anyone working in the Palace of Westminster can now join London Mutual Credit Union and save or repay loans direct from their wages.

The initiative was launched at an event in Parliament hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions and London Mutual Credit Union. Money saving expert Martin Lewis spoke at the launch and also became a member of the credit union.

Credit union partnerships are a cost effective way for employers to enhance the financial well being of employees and payroll deduction makes saving and borrowing easy and convenient. The Parliamentary authorities are the latest in a long list of employers to offer this benefit to their employees. Staff working for the police force, public transport employers, British Airways and the NHS are just some of the people who already enjoy the convenience of payroll deduction.

Martin Lewis said: “With the growth scourge of payday lending across the UK – credit unions are a viable, cheaper, non-profit local alternative and should be encouraged. Therefore today I hope to be excited at the launch event to see senior MPs and even Government Ministers giving the London Mutual their backing by joining up and making use of the deduction facility. It’ll be interesting to see who puts their money where their mouth is.

“This extra income for the credit union can then be lent back out to the community as affordable loans, stopping the need for many to resort to the use of high-cost credit and demonstrating the benefit to both sides of the financial equation of becoming a member.”

Damian Hinds MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions, said: “I am delighted to see London Mutual Credit Union extend its services to all of those working in and around Parliament. Partnering with employers and payroll deduction arrangements can have enormous benefits for credit union development while providing a valuable financial service to workers and employers.”

Lord Kennedy of Southwark, a Vice Chair of the APPG on Credit Unions, said: “In extending to Parliamentarians and Parliamentary staff, London Mutual will ensure that even more people can benefit from their excellent, affordable and ethical services both in Parliament and in the wider community. And I hope that in making personal use of London Mutual, many more MPs will be persuaded of the great value that credit unions generate for their members and society.”

Lucky Chandrasekera, London Mutual Credit Union chief executive, said: “It is fantastic to be launching our Parliamentary service today which is a goal we set ourselves some years ago. We hope by launching this service for Parliament that we can demonstrate the value of credit union membership on a daily basis to MPs and the wider Parliamentary staff. We have a range of competitive products and services for Parliament to take advantage of.”

ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “The value of payroll deduction is not to be underestimated for all parties concerned. This high profile addition to employers offering this service is very welcome. The vast majority of large employers in the US – including the White House, Congress and Senate – offer this facility to their staff and I hope that many more will follow this example and talk to their local credit union about how they can help their employees access convenient financial services through payroll.”

Credit unions are financial co-operatives, owned by their members, which provide safe savings, affordable loans and a range of other financial services to over a million people in Britain.

London Mutual Credit Union is the largest community credit union in London. It serves over 20,000 members in the London Boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster and Camden. Members have access to a range of savings and loan products, including the Credit Union Current Account and a cash ISA offering 3% AER.

Social investment boost for North East cycling business

The Cycle Hub

Big Issue Invest provided a loan to help The Cycle Hub refurbish its premises.

A social enterprise dedicated to getting more of us cycling across the North East has secured funding to assist with the refurbishment costs of its new premises.

Situated beside the River Tyne in Quayside, The Cycle Hub is a social enterprise that promotes and facilitates cycling, complete with bike hire facilities, café, bike shop and repair workshop.

The Cycle Hub was co-founded in 2012 by Newcastle’s Cycle Centre and cycling holiday company Saddle Skedaddle after the two groups saw the need for a place where Newcastle’s growing cycling community could meet after a ride. Since it was established, The Cycle Hub has created new six jobs and has already provided advice and support to many local people about the health benefits of cycling.

The Cycle Hub secured a £25,000 loan from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue.

“In many ways, being a social enterprise is just like being any type of business,” says Emma Hallington, marketing manager for The Cycle Hub and Saddle Skedaddle. “But it can be difficult for traditional lenders to see that our aims go beyond just profit, and so they are sometimes wary to lend to us.”

That’s where Big Issue Invest comes in, says Rod Jones, Regional Director for the North East and Cumbria at Big Issue Invest.

“As a lender we exist to help worthwhile social businesses get the access to funding that they need to grow and develop their businesses so that they can help more people.

“We have enjoyed working with The Cycle Hub and their ambitions to get more people out cycling is one we can all support.”

Adds Emma: “We all know that cycling has the twin benefits of improving people’s health, if they take regular exercise, and reducing traffic congestion, if more people commute by bike. It really is a win win situation.”

According to Rod Jones, funding for social businesses can be hard to get, as many commercial lenders have no experience of lending to organisations that are not all about making a profit.

He says: “Businesses like The Cycle Hub play an important part in delivering services that our communities need, but aren’t usually provided by commercial operators. That’s where Big Issue Invest comes in, to help lend to this sort of business.

“At a time when 15% of UK small businesses rate access to finance as the most pressing issue they face, Big Issue Invest is here to support social businesses in the North East, be they charities, co-operatives or social enterprises like The Cycle Hub. People can find out more at our website”

Accordion website is music to our ears

We recently worked with Manchester-based accordion and piano teacher, Craig Bradley, to launch his new website.

Craig Bradley

Craig Bradley offers accordion and piano lessons in Manchester.

As well as working with Craig to copywrite and design his new website, we organised the photography that appears on his website too.

Craig has over 30 years’ experience playing the accordion and has been teaching music for over 20 years.

Music lessons make a good present and gift certificates for music lessons with Craig Bradley in Manchester are available from Craig’s online shop on the new website.

Craig offers accordion lessons in south Manchester and teaches both accordion and piano up to – and beyond – grade 8.

Craig is also an accordion performer and it was important to design his new  website so that he could add new content to the website himself. In future, he is looking to add details of new products, such as accordions for sale and live performances, as well as tips about learning music.

If you are looking for accordion or piano lessons in Manchester, why not take a look at the new site at and get in touch with him?

Supporting the Connect2013 conference

John Swinney MSP

John Swinney MSP speaking at the Connect2013 conference in Dumfries

At Ethos public relations we were very pleased to be able to help Third Sector First with their recent Connect2013 conference in Dumfries.

As well as attending on the day and helping to tweet updates from the conference, we managed the production of a printed programme for the event and media relations in advance.

Over 200 people came along to the conference – probably the largest gathering of the third sector that there has ever been in Dumfries and Galloway.

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Government, gave the keynote speech and explained that he wanted to see a broader range of social enterprises in the Scottish economy.

Organised by Third Sector First in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council and NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Connect2013 brought third sector organisations in Dumfries and Galloway together with the public sector and provided a forum for voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises to influence public policy. Connect conferences are set to become an annual event in the Third Sector First calendar.

We wish Third Sector First well for future conferences.

Promoting the Community in Langholm and Eskdale

The local community in Langholm and Eskdale will have a stronger voice with the Scottish Government in future, thanks to a new link-up.

Signing the agreement

Chick McKenna, Chair of Third Sector First (standing), and David Yarrow, Chair of Langholm Initiative, signing the agreement.

The Langholm Initiative and Third Sector First have agreed to work together in a move to help promote Langholm and Eskdale to the Scottish Government, strengthen the local community and provide more investment in the area.

Together they have created the Eskdale Third Sector Pathfinder, which will be the local agent for Third Sector First in its work to help establish and develop new community groups, such as social enterprises, charities and co-operatives.

Third Sector First is funded by the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council to support and develop a strong third sector in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Langholm Initiative was formed in 1994 to improve the business, social and physical environment of Langholm and the surrounding areas.

David Yarrow, Chair of Langholm Initiative, said: “The Langholm Initiative fully supports the important role that Third Sector First will play in Langholm and Eskdale in future and we are pleased to be working with them to strengthen our community.

“We look forward to Eskdale Third Sector Pathfinder helping to develop and shape the future localism agenda within Dumfries and Galloway.”

One of the key priorities of the Eskdale Third Sector Pathfinder will be to encourage the formation of more social businesses in the area, as a way of delivering quality services, especially in areas such as in the care sector.

According to David Coulter, Chief Executive of Third Sector First: “Many of the services we rely on are provided by third sector organisations, such as community groups, charities and employee run businesses. Working with the Langholm Initiative we want to raise the profile of the Langholm and Eskdale area within the Scottish Government, to help attract more investment that will benefit local people.”

For more information about the Pathfinder and how it can help your local community group, contact the project manager at The Langholm Initiative:


Young volunteers recognised in Stranraer

Four young people from the Stranraer area have gained recognition for their volunteering work through The Saltire Awards.

saltire Awards logoAimee McCracken, Jack McQueen and brothers David and Alistair Stuart have all been presented with certificates in recognition of their efforts volunteering for local organisations.

The Saltire Awards recognise the commitment and contribution of young people volunteering in Scotland and are endorsed by the Scottish Government and by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The awards enable volunteers between the ages of 12 and 25 to gain new skills and practical experience through volunteering placements provided by local and national voluntary organisations. They  are designed to encourage more young people to volunteer within their local community, benefitting both the community and the young person. Jack McQueen received an award certificate for 200 hours’ volunteer work, which is a tremendous achievement.

Certificate presentation

Jack McQueen with Vivien Smith of Third Sector First (left) and Gillian Templeton (right), Service Manager of Stranraer Skills Station.

Jack volunteers as an administrative assistant at Stranraer Skills Station, a social business that offers support services to people with a variety of needs, and since September has attended the John Niven Centre, studying business admin. Jack attends college three days a week and volunteers on the two days when not at college, which provides him with valuable experience to enhance his education.

Saltire Awards presentation

Aimee McCracken (centre) with Vivien Smith (left) of Third Sector First and Elaine McCourtney, Service Manager of Stranraer Skills Station

Aimee McCracken received award certificates for achieving 10 hours and 25 hours of volunteer work. Aimee is supported by Stranraer Skills Station to complete voluntary placements in the local community. One of her placements is within a childcare establishment and another in a local school. In both placements Aimee helps the young people with their activities, demonstrating how to play games, assisting with arts and crafts and keeping the children on task.

David and Alistair Stuart from Stranraer also each received certificates for their 10 and 25 hours awards. David volunteers with Wigtownshire Animal Welfare Association and Alistair volunteers with Active Schools Wigtownshire. Positive feedback was received from Wigtownshire Animal Welfare Association about David’s dedication and enthusiasm to help the animals in their care and from Active Schools about Alistair’s commitment and determination to support other young people taking part in sporting activities. David and Alistair both thoroughly enjoy volunteering and would recommend it to other young people.

Saltire Awards presentation

David (right) and Alistair Stuart pictured with their certificates.

Speaking about The Saltire Awards, David Coulter, Chief Executive at Third Sector First, the organisation which co-ordinates the awards in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “It is always a pleasure to see the positive contribution made by young people to our communities and I am really pleased to see their efforts recognised by these Saltire Awards. Well done to them all.”

More details about The Saltire Awards can be found at