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Local groups dominate shortlist for Scottish Charity Awards

posted 13 May 2011, 07:52 by Alistar Frater
Charities and local heroes from Edinburgh are taking centre stage in the fifth national Scottish Charity Awards. With a nominee in every category, the city boasts more shortlisted charities than any other part of Scotland.

Hosted by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Scottish Charity Awards are split into five categories: Charity of the Year, Community Action, Partnership Award, Campaign of the Year and Charity Champion.

Two Edinburgh charities are in the running to become Charity of the Year. Crew 2000 supports young people to get the right information about drugs and sexual health and helps keep the government, police, health officials and youth workers informed. Planning Aid for Scotland matches professional planners with communities, ensuring local people have the knowledge and understanding to get involved with new developments in their area.

In the Community Action category, the Edinburgh Tenants’ Federation is in the running for its work in training 200 council workers and concierges to spot the signs of mental ill health after the suicide of a young woman in an Edinburgh housing block.

The Partnership award sees local justice organisations Apex Scotland and Circle competing for the title. Circle is in the running for its work with HMP Addiewell on supporting prisoners with addictions to maintain positive relationships with their families, both in jail and on release. Apex Scotland used its experience tackling re-offending to reach out to pupils at Dunfermline High School who were at risk of exclusion. The partnership has seen a dramatic reduction in exclusions, better attendance, improved performance and a reduction in community complaints and police involvement with young people from the school.

The Campaign of the Year Award is another Edinburgh-dominated category with Poppyscotland and NUS Scotland battling it out. Poppyscotland’s fundraising campaign aimed to reverse a growing trend of falling donations and a lack of awareness amongst the public. A rebrand and powerful PR campaign saw a 5 per cent increase in donations, rising to £2.34 million.

NUS Scotland, along with student association members across the country, campaigned against a proposed cut to college bursaries. After a proposed cut of £1.7 million, NUS and Scottish students' associations burst into action. Over 32,000 students contacted their MSPs to tell them why bursaries for college students are so important. As a result, the government reversed the cut and announced £15 million in bursaries and £8 million worth of additional college bursaries and places – a 17 per cent increase.

Finally, the Charity Champion category sees Lynne McNicoll and Laura Lee nominated for the award. Oncology nurse to Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre founder Maggie Keswick Jencks, Laura Lee was instrumental in setting up the first Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh in 1996. Since then, Laura has overseen and driven forward a charity success story that has transformed cancer care - 15 years on there are now 15 Maggie's Centres throughout the UK.

On her 50th birthday, Lynne McNicoll decided to start fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Within a year she raised more than £50,000 and within four years, she had found £650,000 to establish a specialist hospital unit in Edinburgh.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in Edinburgh’s answer to the Sistine Chapel – the Mansfield Traquair Centre – on 16th June.