Apr 032015

David Forbes with his AwardWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

David Forbes, Chairman of Local Charity Future Choices and full time carer to his mother, was short-listed for a prestigious award by Entertainment Company Wobia Entertainment House at a Glitzy awards ceremony recently. The award event showcased some outstanding individuals in our community.

David campaigned hard to win as many votes as possible to clinch the title, and his hard work paid off.

David said:

“When you hear the nominees name, then and the winner is, you get goosebumps and all the emotions runs through your body, but when it’s your name that’s read out, that’s when it really hits home that the public votes recognised your hard work, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote”

David dedicated his award to his mother as he works everyday to try and better the lives of others, including his mum, through his voluntary charity work.
He added:

“I now plan to use this award to motivate me and launch a You Tube Channel to motivate and inspire others, like carers and Volunteers  to do more good work within their community, being a role model is a great honour and again I would like to thank those who took time to vote for me”

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Nov 282014

future choicesWith thanks to David Forbes.

Future Choices is a disabilities charity based at Inchgarth Community Centre in Garthdee. It celebrates its sixth Birthday this month.

The charity has been helping the most vulnerable gain social inclusion since 2008, and it is growing daily while remaining voluntary and self-funded.

Recently, Sainsbury’s at Garthdee chose the group as its Local Charity of the Year.

Partnering up with other bodies doesn’t stop there though, as Future Choices is now affiliated to the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland charity too.

Chairman David Forbes said:

“This support really strengthens our position within the city of Aberdeen, and furthermore, we have the support of Lawrence Milne Decorators, based in Berryden and Ellon who will for one year be donating proceeds of the five pence bag charge to Future Choices. I never ever thought that the charity would be where it is, but I’m thrilled it is where it is and it’s down to having an amazing dedicated team behind me.”

The charity members, who suffer from various physical disabilities, have seen their lives improved by the work of the charity. Its management is very much aware that there are more vulnerable adults out there. Future Choices wants to be able to spread its message to give them hope and the positivity to realise that social isolation doesn’t need to be a regular thing for them.

David added:

“Having my mum, who benefits from the charity, there by my side is the biggest motivation I could ever have. Being not only the chairman for the charity but her full time carer has its challenges, but I’ve seen her benefit from the group a lot, building friendships and having fun.”

Future Choices is purely voluntary and is always looking for keen individuals to get involved. If you wish to find out more, visit their website www.future-choices.org.uk , email: info@future-choices.org.uk or freephone 0800 5668728

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May 302014
Saltire Award

Shannon Milne, Volunteer Co-ordinator awarding the Saltire Award ( for 50 and 100 hours volunteering ) and Summit Award recognising outstanding contribution as a volunteer to Francesca Falcone.

With thanks to Kathryn Russell.

An Aberdeen student has been recognised for the time she has contributed to volunteering, as well as receiving a further award recognising her outstanding contribution as a volunteer.

Francesca Falcone has achieved Saltire Awards for 50 and 100 hours of volunteering as a Volunteer Support Worker with local charity RAS (Rape and Abuse Support).

RAS provides support for survivors of rape, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, as well as working within the community to develop awareness of these and surrounding issues.

Ms Falcone started the sixty hours of training with RAS in 2012, completing it in spring 2013 after passing the assessment, and began volunteering with RAS providing telephone support on the helpline, and also working one-to-one with survivors of sexual violence.

Chair of RAS, Kathryn Russell praised the commitment of the Aberdeen student saying:

“We are delighted that Francesca’s commitment to volunteering has been recognised in this way. It is not only a fantastic achievement in terms of the hours she has committed to providing vital support to the users of our service but we are also pleased that Francesca has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to RAS by being awarded the Summit Award, which is peer assessed by a panel of Saltire Ambassadors who decide who merits the Award.”

Volunteer Co-ordinator Shannon Milne added:

“At RAS, we have a strong volunteer program offering a range of opportunities for anyone to join our team of fantastic volunteers. If anyone is interested in volunteering, I would encourage them to get in touch for more information.”

RAS can be contacted for details on volunteering at info@rasane.org.uk.

Ms Falcone has also completed her Social Work degree at RGU, and her dissertation was entitled:  ‘Surviving? An exploration of the impact of rape and barriers for survivors in disclosing to professional services‘.

Ms Falcone expects to continue volunteering with people who have experienced sexual violence, as well as developing a career in social work.

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Nov 082013

With thanks to Jenny Montgomerie.

Bogus Brothers

Aberdeen’s largest social care charity, VSA hosted its annual fundraising ball at Ardoe House Hotel on 2 November. The ball has as its theme The Great Gatsby. Over 300 guests enjoyed dinner and dancing whilst raising money to support autistic NE children and those with learning disabilities. £120,000 was raised to support Linn Moor School.

Among the guests were the parents of Lewis, a student at Linn Moor School. His father Graham is a great supporter and ran this year’s London Marathon to raise money for the school.

Graham described the ball as ‘fabulous’ and said that the school is a positive and promising environment for his son who cherishes his time there.

The school supports and encourages the development of essential academic and life skills allowing students to have the brightest possible future.

The Great Gatsby theme was embraced by all guests, with many elaborate fashions on display. Two lucky individuals won magnums of champagne as the best-dressed guests.

Speaking after the event, Debbie Fotheringham, VSA’s Events Co-ordinator said:

Once again, I am overwhelmed at the generosity of our VSA supporters. Our Great Gatsby VSA Ball has raised thousands of pounds for an amazing service that VSA provides for local children and young people with complex needs. The kindness of our guests and sponsors, such as Garreth Wood and The Speratus Group is fantastic. We are delighted that so much has been raised as it will go a very long way for VSA to continue providing the best of care at our school.

Our live auction showcased our biggest ever lot item – dinner on board the Royal Yacht Britannia for 10 people which was awarded to a very generous bidder for £10,000! A very big thank you must go to all of our table hosts, individuals and companies who donated items for our auction and raffle.”

For more on VSA, contact Jenny Montgomerie on 07894395270.
e-mail jenny.montgomerie@vsa.org.uk

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Jul 012013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

On Friday 28 June 2013 VSA, the north-east’s largest charity and the country’s biggest city social care charity, held an open day for carers and professionals to officially launch its new Stonehaven Carers’ Centre following two notorious Stonehaven floods that left the former building ruined.

VSA’s Stonehaven Carers’ Centre covers Portlethen to St. Cyrus and inland towards Deeside.

Moira Hurry, senior carers support and development worker at VSA’s Stonehaven Carers’ Centre, said:

“I’m pleased to say that despite the difficulties we faced we continued to provide a valuable service to existing and new carers throughout south Aberdeenshire.”

The former building, in Arbuthnott Place, was severely damaged by the flood three years ago and again last December.  Before securing the new office in Evan Street, Moira worked from home and VSA headquarters but heavily relied on support from local organisations:

“Thanks to kind support from the Belvidere Hotel in Stonehaven, the Care Management and Community Learning and Development teams in Portlethen I could continue with meetings, like monthly carer groups and one-to-one sessions.

“The open day is an opportunity for people to find out about the range of support available to adult unpaid carers, meet fellow carers, enjoy some well-deserved pampering and explore special interest groups, like the art workshop.”

Kenneth Simpson, chief executive at VSA, said:

“I want to personally thank everyone in the community who rallied round to support VSA at this challenging time.  I’m delighted that we were able to keep the service going throughout and can now launch an exciting new centre for local carers.”

VSA’s Stonehaven Carers’ Centre shares its office with PAMIS, an organisation that supports people with profound and multiple learning disabilities across Aberdeenshire city and shire.

Jun 142013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Aberdeen Lord Provost, George Adam, has officially inaugurated Scottish singer and producer Fiona Kennedy as Honorary President of VSA in recognition of 30 years of incredible enthusiasm, dedication and fundraising.
Fiona’s career has been diverse and includes singing, acting, public speaking and performing at international events, as well as producing the vibrant and hugely successful production The Kist.

Kenneth Simpson, chief executive at VSA, said:

“Fiona has given an enormous amount of support and done a tremendous amount of profile-raising for the charity.  We’re so grateful and can’t wait for the next steps.

“Fiona has a long history with us, having been a Trustee, Convenor of the Carers Committee, Vice Chair and Chair of VSA Board.  She has shown endless passion and tenacity, working hard for causes close to her heart. 

“The team at VSA, past and present, are incredibly grateful for Fiona’s hard work in publicising and supporting campaigns, particularly for older peoples’ services Broomhill Park and Broomhill Activity Centre.”

On accepting the honour Fiona, who began her involvement when asked to accept a cheque on VSA’s behalf and has been an ambassador and an active fundraiser for the charity over the last 30 years, said:

“I’m completely thrilled and delighted to become VSA’s Honorary President. 

“I love being part of the VSA family and will continue to do whatever I can to support the organisation.  VSA is doing a brilliant job and I’m proud to be part of it.”

“I went to see the range of work VSA is involved with and was just so impressed.  The work VSA continues to do is really inspiring. 

“I felt this amazing organisation was not blowing its own trumpet enough, so I was very glad roll my sleeves up.

“My main priorities were to raise awareness and fundraise.  What’s really impressive is the fact that 96p of every pound raised goes directly to charitable expenditure.”

A particular highlight for Fiona was spearheading and chairing the campaign for the £4million Broomhill Park, that she and her committee helped raise significant funds for, of which she went on to say:

“I’m never afraid to knock on doors to champion causes I believe in and was so delighted to attract supporters like Sir Alex Ferguson to help fundraise for the new Broomhill Park.”  

Kenneth Simpson, chief executive at VSA, also presented local businessman James Stevenson with the title of Honorary Vice President at Tuesday’s event.

Making the presentation to James, Kenneth said:

“James too has done so much for VSA during his time as a Trustee, Vice Chair and Chair of the VSA board. 

“He has terrific business expertise, which VSA values greatly and has given many years of extremely generous support.”

May 022013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Dr. Peter Kiehlmann who is Aberdeen’s GP cluster lead, encouraged unpaid carers in the North East to plan for the future of the person they care for if in a worst case scenario, something should happen to the carer. Three in five people in Aberdeen will be carers at some point in their lives.

This was at an event organised by Aberdeen City Council and Voluntary Service Aberdeen’s (VSA) Carers’ Service, on the 1st of May.

Wilma Collie and her husband care for their 42-year-old autistic son Martin.  She outlined the importance of decision-making on his behalf, urging fellow carers to follow suit:

“As morbid as it sounds, we’ll all die one day.  It’s something you have to face as a carer.  But it’s a huge benefit knowing that if anything happens to us Martin’s future is as secure as it can possibly be.  I know he’ll be cared for, and I know it will be a simple process for our family to handle.

“I’d been to meetings through the years and heard the word ‘guardianship’ but thought nothing of it.  Why would I need to be my son’s guardian?  I’m his mother.  But I realised having guardianship gave me legal power and a boost to my confidence when discussing Martin’s welfare. 

“The process took over two years but it was well worth it.  I’ve noticed the difference already when dealing with Martin’s affairs.  It may seem like a daunting process but it’s not.  Legal experts are there to help.  Carers need to take advantage of their expertise.  Don’t let potential costs hold you back either.  Everyone’s circumstances are different but it is possible to do the process for free.”

Lesley Gray, the team leader at VSA’s Carers’ Service, said:

“Unpaid carers do an amazing job. But they have insanely busy lives and may not have time to delve into planning for the future. What if something was to happen to the carer?  Cared-for people must have their future safeguarded.  We want to get people thinking and planning. 

“We all hope it won’t happen but prevention is better – and easier – than cure. In a time of crisis and panic, they would be faced with a lot of decisions. We want to make life easier now and in future.  It’s so important to give carers an insight into what’s available.”

The event included a welcome from Len Ironside, convenor of Aberdeen City Council’s Social Care and Wellbeing Committee, a personal perspective on planning from Wilma Collie and presentations on power of attorney and guardianship.  Relevant services including Aberdeen City Council’s Welfare Rights and Transitions Teams, Advocacy Aberdeen and Alzheimer’s Scotland were represented with information stalls.

Further information: according to Carers UK, there are nearly 6 million carers in the country.  The Scottish Household Survey, conducted by The Scottish Government in 2010 reported 657,300 carers north of the border.

Apr 092013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

On Monday, VSA, the north-east’s largest charity, announced that it has two places in the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday 26th May up for grabs.  The option of a half marathon is also an option.

Athletic Aberdonians can pick which part of the charity they want to fundraise for from a selection of more than 30 VSA services that support a wide range of people which includes babies, children, adults with mental health difficulties, children with additional support needs, carers, young carers and older people.

VSA’s events co-ordinator Debbie Fotheringham, who is leading the search for competitors, said:

“At VSA we’re passionate about making sure our runners know that they can raise money for something that matters to them.  Asking people to sponsor you is never easy, but if it’s for something important to you, it’s a million times easier.

“VSA is such a diverse charity.  I think that, for almost every person out there, there’s a service that means something.  You might want to run to raise money to send our hardworking young carers on a well-deserved trip or to buy an iPad so that our older people can Skype their overseas relatives. 

“You could even run to raise money to buy a goat for VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter.  The list is long and flexible.” 

Looking back at the 2012 Edinburgh Marathon which he ran in aid of VSA, John Willis of telecommunication consultancy 9 Dots said:

“Running for VSA was a pleasure.  The charity provides an incredible range of services for those in need and has been an integral part of the north-east’s third sector since the Victorian times. 

“Not only does VSA play an important role for the local community but it’s one of the most cost-efficient charities in the UK – for every £1 you raise, 96p of it goes directly to helping those who need it most. 

“Charity begins at home and we need to do as much as we can to support our local third sector.”

To book a place or to find out more about running for VSA at the Edinburgh Marathon, please contact Debbie Fotheringham on 01224 212021 or e-mail Debbie.fotheringham@vsa.org.uk 

Mar 072013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Last week Learning Opportunities students at Aberdeen College, some of whom are also young carers, raised more than £1,100 when they hosted a pop-up charity shop. The funds will benefit young carer services run by the local charity Voluntary Service Aberdeen (VSA).

The Aberdeen College charity shop will continue to fundraise for young carers until the end of this week, Friday 8th March.

Chris Sojka, Senior Carers’ Support and Development Worker with VSA, said:

 “I’m overwhelmed with the success of just one week in the charity shop. It’s fantastic. The money will go towards a school holiday respite programme, which gives young carers a much-needed break during their time off school. It will also help fund our education support for young carers. This ranges from helping them catch up with homework, to studying for exams, to making sure they get to College if that’s their goal. It’s all about fulfilling aspirations.” 

There are an estimated 2,240 young carers in Aberdeen, and far more that we don’t know about, who try to look after a sick or disabled relative without help.

Fiona Duff, lecturer in the Learning Opportunities department at AberdeenCollege, nominated the cause:

“Some of our students are young carers. I’m overwhelmed with what they do to help their families. It can take a lot for them to get to and stay in College. For students who don’t have direct caring experience, they can easily relate. They may have a friend who cares for someone. If not, they could imagine the situation. It could be them. It could be their brother, sister or cousin.”

“It went very well. We’re delighted with the amount raised: it would take us many weeks to raise that in the College charity shop. The students really enjoyed it and we got a lot of positive customer comments. Considering it’s something we’ve never done before, it went very smoothly.”

Chris added:

“We love to hear about people getting behind our young carers, especially people directly associated with the cause.  We’re so thankful to Aberdeen College for thinking of us.”

“Young carers are a phenomenal group of people, with some as young as five and others juggling Standard Grade study, who experience the struggles of growing up and their caring role. It might feel normal for them but they actually make a very special contribution to the community and their family. VSA’s Chill Out Zone gives them much-needed support, whether it’s respite, help with homework or a chance to have fun and just be a child.”

For more information about VSA’s Carers Services, visit their headquarters at 38 Castle Street, call 01224 212021 or visit the website at www.vsa.org.uk.

Feb 082013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

On Sunday 3 February 2013, Voluntary Services Aberdeen launched an appeal for athletic locals to support it at the annual Balmoral Road Races. Budding athletes have been invited to pick which part of the charity they want to fundraise for, from a selection of more than 30 VSA services.

VSA has spaces in both the Conoco Phillips 5k race and the Stena Drilling Tartan 10k.

Debbie Fotheringham, fundraising officer at VSA, is leading the quest for competitors:

“We’re delighted to be part of Run Balmoral again.  This year, we’re passionate about making sure our runners know that they can raise money for something that matters to them.  Asking people to sponsor you is never easy.  But if it’s for something important to you, it’s a million times easier.

“VSA is such a diverse charity.  I think that, for almost every person out there, there’s a service that means something.  We support babies, children, adults with mental health difficulties, children with additional support needs, carers, young carers and older people. 

“You might want to run to raise money to send our hardworking young carers on a well-deserved trip or to buy an iPad so that our older people can Skype their overseas relatives.  You could even run to raise money to buy a goat for VSA’s Easter Anguston Farm in Peterculter.  The list is long and flexible.”  

“Last year we attracted a variety of runners, including me and a colleague.  I’m taking a break this year but I’d love to hear from people of all ages and abilities.  In 2012 we had marathon champions, regular runners and first-timers trying to keep their New Year resolution of getting fit.  But it’s not just about the running.  The Balmoral Road Races is really fun family day out.”

To book a place or to find out more about running for VSA at Run Balmoral, please contact Debbie Fotheringham on 01224 212021 or e-mail Debbie.fotheringham@vsa.org.uk