In the week when the new national living wage rate was announced and people were shouting “time for change” on international volunteer managers day we held our AGM, in the very beautiful Perth North Church, an accessible and welcoming venue. We’ve had a good year reaching more learners, befriendees, helpline callers and supporters so the air was one of celebration as we presented Awards, listened to people who have used our services talking about their experience and we looked forward to next year!
15 years ago Alexandria from Fife responded to an advert to learn literacy, numeracy and basic digital skills. She came back all these years later to tell us that she has never forgotten coming to Lead and the support that she had received from Dawn Robb, our Fife Learning Coordinator. “When we met, we connected as people.” She described herself as being “broken” at that time and how one to one learning support and encouragement at home was the catalyst she had needed to turn her life around. She read aloud a poem from the book that she has recently had published. It was incredibly powerful to hear her story of hurt and pain turn into a long journey of resilience and sheer determination to survive.
Our second keynote speaker was Fiona from Aberdeenshire, a Red Cross volunteer and active member of Aberdeenshire Powerful Voices Together, a self advocacy group who connect with local decision makers to get things changed within their community. Fiona is an excellent ambassador for advocacy and she has also been working on gaining a numeracy qualification with Lead as she moves onwards and upwards. “This has helped me when I use my money out and about. Now I can understand dividing and multiplying and it makes a lot more sense to me. I feel it’s important to continue learning and to get qualifications so I can see my achievements. I like a challenge, being out in different places and putting my skills to practical use.”
Vivienne Wallace is an incredibly worthy winner of our Dr Ethel Gray Volunteer of the Year Award 2018, presented by Don Jarvie our Chairman. Vivienne has volunteered with Lead’s Aberdeenshire project for the past 8 years, supporting 40 learners! Her volunteer manager says she is an “encourager, a motivator and praises the learner for their achievements. She has good listening skills and works with a person-centred approach to get to know each individual and their specific needs. She is dependable, reliable, trustworthy, friendly…. Vivienne provides a safe, comfortable and fun environment which stimulates learning and enhances the learning experience. She is empathetic, patient, compassionate, creative and above all inspiring.” A learner said, “Vivienne is very enthusiastic. Every week, even if the sun is not shining she always seems in a good mood, upbeat and positive.” Well done Vivienne!
Anne Wilson from Moray won the James Hill Learner of the year Award. She couldn’t be with us in person, unfortunately, but Anne has had an incredible year learning, attaining, peer mentoring and volunteering. We hope Anne will be super chuffed!
Next year Lead Scotland will be 40 years old and people are telling us that it is maybe time we modernise our branding. Our Engagement & Development Officer, Gail Phillips gave an excellent presentation pulling together people’s ideas from the 50 survey results and face to face responses so far. There is still time to share your tuppence worth so do please help us by completing our branding survey. Thank you.
Oh yes, and we had our AGM too, and when talking about our annual review it would be remiss not to mention a few things on the horizon.
In April 2018 we became an SQA centre and we are starting to offer more accreditation routes to individuals and small groups of learners. We are continuing our partnership with Newbattle Abbey College, building on the success of 80 Adult Achievement Awards already achieved.
We are supporting the first national transition conference for parents of disabled children on 13 March 2019, at the Scottish Youth Theatre a partnership endeavour being led by Contact. The conference will build on the success of Contact’s Scotland wide ‘Preparing Parents for Transition’ project. Our Senior Policy and Information Officer has been delivering workshops and producing local area transition guides, please do share with families.
We brought people together to respond to the Social Isolation and Democracy Matters consultation and there is a growing appetite within our membership to actively campaign on issues which affect disabled learners, carers and befriendees. The Glasgow Disability Alliance video about participatory budgeting and local decision making is a brilliant resource for bringing people together to speak up and be counted. We are partly taking our ambition forward by working with Scottish Funding Council to Chair a group of stakeholders and students to address policy gaps which affect the experience of disabled students in further and higher education.
We are committed to playing our part to implement the national Cyber Resilience learning and Skills Action plan. We are also using technology to make it easier to access our own service, by phasing out paper forms for example. Working in the cloud is ideal for our dispersed and growing team to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Lots of learning curves but a winning attitude fairly helps! Our new administrator says “we are good at creatively finding ways around limitations”.
In the summer of 2018 we were delighted to be awarded two years of funding from the Social Economy Growth Fund to set up our Digital Progression Project. This is a very exciting development, digital learning opportunities to tackle poverty and inequality and we are delighted to expand our team with five extra staff in the north of Scotland to drive this project forward.
So there you have it, some highlights from our AGM.
And in case you were in any doubt, Lead Scotland’s excellent team of Board, staff and volunteers are a tremendous force for good and if you look behind the scenes you will see a power of work going on fuelled by an unwavering passion for fairness and equality.
If you’d like to work more closely with us please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Emma Whitelock, CEO