Volunteer rewarded for hard work

A budding baker from Blackridge has been announced as the first recipient of an award recognizing the work of local volunteers and has received a £100 gift card to spend at The Centre, Livingston to thank her for her hard work.

The Volunteer Award is a new award set up by The Centre, Livingston, and the West Lothian Courier to shine a light on the amazing people in our local community who give their time for a good cause – from volunteering in a charity shop or with a community group, to do voluntary work in hospitals.

Not only does the recipient of the award receive a framed certificate but they are also rewarded with a £100 gift card, courtesy of The Centre, Livingston, which can be spent at over 80 stores and all restaurants in the shopping centre.

The first winner of the new award is 23-year-old Abbie Copland, who, since 2018, has volunteered with Kidzeco, a social enterprise based at The Centre, Livingston which provides families with high quality pre-loved children’s clothes, toys, and essential equipment at affordable prices.

Abbie was nominated by Tracy Murdoch, founding director of Kidzeco, in recognition of her hard work, determination and impressive cookery skills which she has brought to her role.

Abbie has visual and hearing impairments and as such her support worker Jean Cairns, from Livingston, joined her for each shift at Kidzeco.

She initially did three hours, twice each week, dealing with clothes preparation such as identifying the sizes of garments and putting clothing items on to relevant hangers.

While working with the team at Kidzeco, Abbie grew in confidence which led to her expressing a desire to work on the shop floor – tidying clothes, checking the displays and bagging up purchases.

After two months on the shop floor, Abbie was once again keen to learn new skills and after learning that Abbie had a placement in a cafe in another local business, the team at Kidzeco liaised with their colleagues in their social, community space Kidz n Kin to see if volunteering opportunities were available in the Kidz n Kin cafe, as baking and cookery appeared to be where Abbie’s main interests lay.

In November 2019 Abbie became a member of the Kidz n Kin community staff team, making the tray bakes for the cafe.

Abbie has fully embraced the role, bringing her own creativity to the cafe’s offerings by coming up with ideas for seasonal recipes at different times throughout the year, including mini egg tray bakes and Malteser Bunny Cheesecake for Easter.

In addition to making the tray bakes, Abbie handles all of the shopping for ingredients, deals with budgeting and collation of receipts for the Kidz n Kin records, as well as keeping all HACCP and food hygiene records up to date.

Abbie said she enjoys Kidz n Kin and making her cheesecakes and traybakes and would like to thank Jean for helping her to find this volunteering job.

Abbie’s support worker, Jean Cairns, said: “I’m so proud of how Abbie has grown in confidence while volunteering at Kidzeco and Kidz n Kin. Abbie has not only achieved her goals and targets but she exceeded them thanks to the support from the team.

“It’s great to see her hard work and enthusiasm recognized with the Volunteer Award. Working with adults with a disability is much more than a job to me. It’s a way to help them gain independence, grow in confidence and enable them to live their lives and feel part of their community.”

Tracy Murdoch, founding director of Kidzeco, commented: “I’d like to thank The Center and The Courier for giving me the chance to nominate Abbie for this award – she is a treasured and welcome member of our team; not only with her bubbly personality, creativity and her delicious cooking of her, but she has also achieved so much for herself independently.

Ashley Bisland, deputy center director at The Centre, added: “We are delighted that our Volunteer Awards have got off to such a fantastic start with such an inspiring young woman.

“Abbie has given so much of her time over the last four years and proved herself to be an invaluable member of the team. Her sweet treats from Ella have been a great addition to the Kidz n Kin cafe and have proved a big hit with visitors.

We’re looking for your Volunteer Award nominations for the year ahead.

If you know a volunteer who spends their free time working tirelessly for the community, helping others or raising the spirits of those around them and you’d like to nominate them for this award, as well as a framed certificate and a £100 gift card to spend at The Centre, Livingston, please send an email to [email protected] along with the reasons for your nomination.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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