Laila leads the way as seven UK charities celebrate success at Scottishpower Foundation Awards
An inspiring eight-year-old charity fundraiser has scooped the Charity Champion Award at this year’s ScottishPower Foundation Awards, where seven charities were recognised for their incredible efforts to support people and communities across the UK, and who all now receive a share of the £30,000 prize fund.
The ScottishPower Foundation Awards showcase projects that make a positive impact on people and communities across the country. They are open to recipients of this year’s ScottishPower Foundation funding, which saw almost £1.2 million awarded to a wide range of outstanding charities. The winners all receive an additional £5,000 funding, with the runners-up receiving £2,500.
This year’s award-winning projects – which support individuals, families and young people from across the UK – range from developing skills for employment, arts programmes and support for mental health to helping homeless people.
Laila McRae from East Kilbride was crowned this year’s Charity Champion for her incredible fundraising efforts for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland), which supports her baby sister, Amber, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and has endured lots of surgery in the first year of her life.
Laila herself was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis – which only affects one in 1,000 children – when she was three, but she has battled through the pain to make a real difference for Amber and others supported by SBH Scotland – raising more than £2,000 in the last year alone.
Clare Cogan Turner, Communications Manager at Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland, which is based in Cumbernauld, said: “The past twelve months have been hugely challenging for the voluntary sector and for the families we support. Almost overnight, we had to write off about 50 per cent of our fundraising income. However, thanks to the selfless support of individuals like Laila, we are able to continue supporting families across Scotland affected by spina bifida/hydrocephalus. Laila is a wee star and we can't think of anyone more deserving of the Charity Champion award.”
The Charity Champion runner-up was Rio King, Support Worker at Single Homeless Project in London. Rio was recognised for her tireless work to support vulnerable people to maintain their own tenancies and continue living independently in the community, which is a key factor in preventing homelessness.
Dundee Heritage Trust picked up the Community Engagement Award for its work to engage people in the city’s industrial and social heritage through guided tours and workshops. The charity brings together people of all ages and backgrounds and provides learning opportunities for around 8,000 pupils each year from schools across Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perthshire. Visiting classes are given guided tours and can experience demonstrations of working machinery as well as take part in interactive workshops to learn more about Dundee’s industrial past.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “We’re delighted to have been selected for a ScottishPower Foundation award for our Community Engagement Programme. Through our two museums – Discovery Point and Verdant Works – Dundee Heritage Trust preserves the city’s industrial legacy and keeps Dundee’s story alive for future generations. Our museums already enjoy a high level of community involvement and support, and the prize money from this award will allow us to further widen community access and ensure that everyone across the city, and beyond, can engage with Dundee’s incredible heritage.”
The Community Engagement Award runner-up was Welsh charity, Action for M.E. with its ‘M.E. Advocacy Service’. The service aims to empower young people and adults from across Wales with the necessary self-advocacy skills to allow them to make informed choices in decisions that affect their health, wellbeing and self-worth.
Birmingham-based bereavement charity, Edward’s Trust – which has supported thousands of bereaved families in the West Midlands over the past 32 years – scooped the Innovation Award for its ‘Take A Moment’ project, which remotely supports people who have lost a loved one. The charity’s counsellors and wellbeing therapists developed innovative methods to support children and families through the likes of online creative arts sessions, walking counselling sessions, wellbeing packs and online wellbeing sessions.
A spokesperson for Edward’s Trust, said: “We’re delighted to win the 2021 ScottishPower Foundation Innovation Award. Grief affects the whole person both mentally and spiritually, and Edward’s Trust understands the importance of supporting these aspects in our vital bereavement services. The ‘Take a Moment’ packs are a new service that have proven incredibly popular and very much needed after a particularly difficult year for bereaved families across the West Midlands. This win will help us raise awareness on how important wellbeing is after bereavement and reach many more people struggling to cope with their grief.”
The Innovation Award runner-up was Paisley-based Street League. The charity, which uses the power of sport to tackle poverty and give young people the opportunities they need to succeed, was recognised for its ‘Head – Body – Future’ online employment and sport programme.
London-based charity Single Homeless Project lifted the Education Award for its ‘Achieving Potential’ programme, which provides people with a clear pathway from dependence on services and into secure employment. Its service users face many barriers that place them at a disadvantage when trying to find and maintain employment, including a lack of a permanent address and no knowledge of opportunities. ‘Achieving Potential’ provides people with education, training and employment support to empower them with the confidence to live independently.
The Education Award runner-up was Bournemouth-based Support and Mentoring Enabling Entrepreneurship (SAMEE), which was recognised for the development and roll-out of its virtual work experience programme for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee of the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “Huge congratulations to this year’s Foundation Award winners and runners-up, who all help improve lives and change lives. It’s so rewarding to be able to honour the amazing work of our Foundation-funded charities through our Awards celebration and, as always, it was an almost impossible task to choose between the finalists.
“However, Laila and her efforts for SBH Scotland, Dundee Heritage Trust, Edward’s Trust and Single Homeless Project all stood out from the crowd in how they went above and beyond to make a difference for others. They epitomise what the ScottishPower Foundation stands for and they are incredible charity ambassadors – not just for their own organisations, but for the entire country.
“I can’t wait to see how they put their prize money to use and continue their incredible charitable work across the UK.”
Further details on the winners and runners-up is available on the ScottishPower Foundation website: www.scottishpowerfoundation.com.
The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013 to make a significant and lasting contribution to society, enhancing the lives of people living in communities throughout the UK. It provides funding to help support the advancement of education, environmental protection, arts and culture and citizenship. It also supports charities who aim to provide relief from poverty, disability, or other disadvantages.