The Ardross-man



The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

My charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, which runs out of church hall building of the former Barony St John’s Church in Ardrossan has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

As you may know, we provide empowering Personal Safety and self defence training to vulnerable groups and individuals including female survivors of violence, people who are sensory impaired, children and youths, people with dwarfism and people from LGBTI and ethnic minority communities…and we do it all with only 9 volunteer Instructors, no paid staff.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups that benefits their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

We will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Sheriff Iona Sara McDonald, later this summer….and two of our volunteers will attend a garden party at Holyroodhouse in July 2021.

We are absolutely thrilled and delighted that our charity’s work in empowering vulnerable people has been recognised with such a prestigious award from Her Majesty, The Queen.

I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and commitment of our volunteers, both present and past, as they give up their time and skills free of charge to enable us to function.

To all our volunteers, I’d like to say a heartfelt “Thank You”.

You are simply The Best.

Board of Trustees – vacancy

I hope you are all well and keeping yourselves safe from this virus outbreak.

These last couple of months since the lockdown and the temporary closure of our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan have been very difficult for my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.

We depend upon the evening rental of our hall to local groups (North Ayrshire Muay Thai, McMillan Boxfit, Tai Chi, etc.) to pay for our running costs of heating, lighting, building and instructor insurance, etc. and being closed means our funds are gradually running low.

Obviously, there are a few funders which have been set up to help charities affected by the Coronavirus lockdown and we have applied to a couple but have not heard anything back yet. Our fingers are crossed though.

But last week, we also received the devastating news that the Chair of our charity, Pamela Anderson (no, not of Baywatch fame but of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce fame) informed us of her decision to resign from her post due to ill health.

Pamela has amassed a great deal of knowledge encompassing human resources and employment law from a career spanning small private companies, large corporate organisations and local authorities – and she will be sadly missed.

So, would YOU like to join our Board? Well, let me tell you a bit about our charity;

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety provides empowering Personal Safety, Conflict Resolution and practical self defence training to businesses, groups and individuals but particularly vulnerable people targeted by Hate Crime.

We help female survivors of violence (rape, sexual abuse and domestic abuse); LGBTI groups; ethnic minority groups; and people who are sensory impaired; to name but a few.

Our Charity’s mission is to potentially save lives by;

  • The provision of practical training and solutions to help people avoid violence and aggression.
  • The raising of awareness of the importance of personal safety in Scottish communities.
  • The provision of a point of contact for those who are at risk of violence or those seeking advice in Scotland.
  • The reduction of the fear of crime throughout Scotland.


Our objective is simply to empower individuals to manage safer lives.

And we sum up our aims and objectives in one, very powerful statement;

We champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of our charity.

We promote equality of opportunity for all, empowering every individual to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.

Unfortunately, Board resignations due to ill health have left us now looking for THREE Trustee posts to fill.

The Board only meet in our Centre once per quarter (July, October, January and April of each year) with each meeting only lasting approximately 2 hours. So basically, we are only looking for a minimum of 8 hours commitment per year.

If your background connects with our charity and the people we help, and you are interested in joining the Board of our multi award-winning charity, please get in touch with me at and I will answer any questions you may have and send you a copy of our Constitution to read over.

Thanking you in advance, for your interest

Alan Bell

The Ardrossman


Monday 16th March 2020 was a sad day for me. I had to suspend the services of my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, and temporarily close our base, the Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan, due to the coronavirus.

The day before, Sunday 15th, I had to seriously think about these measures. Many of the people we help through the provision of our Personal Safety courses are vulnerable and all of training we provide has a hands-on element as we teach practical self defence skills.

The virus outbreak had meant that our volunteer trainers had to sanitize their hands before and after every self defence technique was demonstrated and then every participant had to do the same. We could go through a bottle of sanitizer per training session.

Another issue that weighed heavily on me was that I had a duty of care towards my volunteers, many of whom, including myself, have their own health problems.

Taking this all into account, I felt I had no option other than to suspend our training courses.

Now, I could have decided to leave our Centre open for evening classes, even although the cost of providing equipment and hand sanitizer for our gym users combined with heating bills would far outweigh any hall rental we receive, but things took an unexpected turn when I developed a sore throat and a sporadic cough. This was enough for me to be advised to self-isolate probably due to my lung condition and even although I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with the coronavirus.

For any other charity or organisation, the containment of the founder would not be an issue, however I not only develop and teach the courses we provide; I also clean the Centre every day and without my input, there would be no-one to clean the gym equipment, punchbags, floor mats, sterilize the boxing gloves, clean the toilets and reception, etc. etc.

The cleaner we hire to come in once per week just couldn’t cope with all these added duties never mind the additional expense.

But there was another problem; I had been in the Centre on a daily basis, so if I was infected, the Centre could be too.

It was too high a risk. The Centre had to close.

Initially, some people felt I had “jumped the gun” and closed the charity’s activities prematurely but as Monday 16th wore on, I started to see more of our partner organisations follow suit.

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) suspended their group activities; Deafblind Scotland cancelled all meetings and social activities; and Scottish War Blinded closed their Centres completely.

I felt vindicated. Closing our Centre was the right thing to do, partially as we have the added responsibility of being a nationally recognised charity.

Since then, I have had time to ponder over this outbreak and its consequences;

We were initially told not to panic buy so those of us who didn’t soon became faced with the reality that now that they needed basic food items and supplies, there just wasn’t any left. The shelves are always bare.

People are going mad, fighting over toilet rolls and pasta – and this was only in the first week or so of the virus – even before the Prime Minister asked people to stay at home.

It reminded me of the TV show “The Walking Dead” where the world has been taken over by a virus which has turned people into zombies.

I remember watching this show about six years ago and seeing the “good” survivors fight the “bad” survivors as well as the zombies. It was an apocalyptic vision.

Unfortunately, this vision is all too easy to visualise now as things begin to spiral out of control with this virus. Even the name, COVID 19, has some kind of zombie connotations for me.

As I watched people fight over groceries and resort to fisticuffs over who was first in the till queue, I realised that there simply wouldn’t be good and bad survivors like in “The Walking Dead”. The good guys just wouldn’t be there. There is no room for compassion when it comes down to the last toilet roll.

No, the vision of the future I was beginning to have was more like the movie “Mad Max” where ALL the survivors are bad with a mean streak and able to kill anyone for whatever they need. I guess you would have to be like that just to survive.

This realisation depressed the hell out of me! Would I want to live in a world like that?

Luckily, there has been some good news as grocery stores enforce a “two items only” policy begin to have “Senior Citizen Opening Times” where the elderly can shop before anyone else without fear of being knocked over.

Hopefully, people will begin to calm down and show a bit of compassion. Stores will be stocked regularly, so if you can’t get certain foods today, they will hopefully be available tomorrow.

I’m hoping we can all be a bit more thoughtful and kinder to each other in the future. Let’s not fall out over a toilet roll.

Meanwhile, I will keep you posted on all the renovation works that are planned for the Barony St John Centre and if you would like to read more about my charity, visit

Goodbye for now.

Award 2020

We got a Highly Commended certificate at the North Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership’s Staff Awards in the category of “Community Superheroes”.


Instructor Training Day – Feb 2020

I hold our bi-annual Instructor Training every February and September and last week we had our physical skills training update in our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan.

My charity is The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety and we provide personal safety advice as well as practical self defence training to businesses, schools, groups and individuals but particularly vulnerable people.

We work with Police Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland, ASSIST and various Women’s Aid groups to help female survivors of violence; we work with Open Ayrshire, Transmasculine Scotland  and various LGBT groups to help the LGBT community stay safe; we work with various ethnic minority groups across the country including the Rainbow Muslim Women group, Sikh Sanjog and Edinburgh Chinese School; we run free of charge personal safety and self defence workshops in Auchenharvie Academy and soon Ardrossan Academy with an invitation sent out to St Matthew’s Academy remaining to be answered; and we provide our award-winning Personal Safety course for People who are Sensory Impaired free of charge to to Deafblind Scotland, Forth Valley Sensory Centre, The Disability Resource Centre and of course people in Ayrshire who are sensory impaired.

Keeping our training and skills current is therefore paramount.

So, every February, our volunteer instructors gather from across Scotland and we revise the practical self defence techniques which we teach. We also revise our personal safety advice to ensure it is up to date and effective.

Every September, we gather again to update our knowledge of Child Protection, LGBTI definitions, People Trafficking, Sensory Impairment training, Health & Safety, Fire Prevention and First Aid.

It’s a pretty full on, eight-hour day but essential to not only keep our volunteers up to date with the Law and able to give accurate advice if asked, but also to kept our insurers and funders happy that we are all competent and our standards are high.

One of our blind volunteers, Yvette Robertson was also presented with a “No.1 Volunteer” trophy on behalf of the charity for her outstanding work over the last year.

If you would like to become a volunteer Personal Safety Instructor yourself, why not email me at and I will tell you what it entails – or take a peak at our website

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year folks – and wow, what a year my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) and our volunteers have just had!

Jointly, we reached the final of eleven awards including seven national awards – and we won four of them;

In February 2019, we reached the final of the North Ayrshire Partnership Staff Awards 2018 in the same two categories as we did in 2018 – “Innovative Team” (a creative team that implements innovative ideas) and “Partnership Champions” (a great team with great results). These awards are highly sought after within the Health & Social Care sector and although we did not win our categories, our registered blind Level 2 Instructor, Yvette Robertson, won the “No.1 Volunteer Award”.

Also in February 2019, we won the “Empowerment Champions” award at The Scottish Diversity Awards 2019 in Glasgow. This award recognized the confidence boosting and  empowering outcomes of our Personal Safety courses for all groups targeted by Hate Crime.

Yvette Robertson was once again recognised – this time nationally – as she reached the final of the No.1 Amazing Women Awards in Glasgow in March 2019. She beat thousands of nominees to reach the final four in the category of “Amazing Charitable Contribution Award” and although she did not win, we are all extremely proud of her.

In June 2019, we went to The Tower of London and won theDisability” category at the Charity Awards 2019, the longest-running and most prestigious UK awards scheme for the charity sector. In fact, it was announced at these awards that we “had won more national awards in the one year (four in 2018-19) than any other UK charity” – not bad for a wee Ardrossan based third sector organisation with only ten volunteers.


From June to October 2019, we first of all beat 28,451 nominations from across the UK to reach the Liverpool final of the National Diversity Awards 2019 in the category of “Community Organisation Award”; we then reached the final of The Ayrshire Community Trust’s Volunteers’ Awards under the category of “Volunteer Team of the Year”; we reached the Scottish Parliament final of the Self Management Awards 2019 under the category of “Project of the Year Award” for our newly developed Personal Safety course for Sensory Impaired People; and then we beat off thousands to reach the Glasgow final of the Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards 2019 in the category of “Design for Diversity Award”, again for our course for people who are Sensory Impaired. Unfortunately, we did not win any of these awards, but it’s still amazing to reach the national finals of Scottish and UK awards.

To top it all off, just a few weeks ago, at the end of November 2019, we won the inaugural RNIB See Differently Awards 2019 in the category of “Team of the Year” at their London Bridge final (the day before the terrorist attack). This national award “recognises a team that has demonstrated excellent teamwork, leadership and impact to make a significant contribution to improving the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted” so we were really honoured to win this title.

What a fabulous year we’ve had – and long may it continue. In fact, it already is continuing because later this month we are in yet another national final – this time for the National Centre for Diversity Grand Awards 2020 in two categories – “Most Innovative EDI Initiative of the Year” and “Most Improved Organisation of the Year”. Keep your fingers crossed.

From ALL at The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, we hope you have a very Happy New Year – goodbye for now.

Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas from myself and everyone at The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. Let’s hope the Barony St John gets the Christmas present it deserves….funding to save it.

RNIB See Differently Awards 2019

Such an honour to be announced as a National finalist for these prestigious awards but to win our category of “Team if the Year” Wow.


Good news and Bad news

A few months ago, I got some bad news. My blood pressure had shot through the roof for no apparent reason. I paid a visit to the doctor and when they realised that my readings were 200/180, they sent for an ambulance.

Now I know the NHS is stretched but I waited three hours for an ambulance during which time   my partner had left her work and drove over from Edinburgh to see me in hospital, only to find I was still waiting in the doctor’s surgery.

She drove me to the hospital herself (I wasn’t allowed to drive) and we were seen immediately.

It took over six weeks to get my blood pressure controlled to a reasonable level but then more bad news – I had a suspected stroke and was rushed back into hospital again.

Complain as much as you want about the NHS but I got every test known to man done on me – CT scans, urine test, blood tests, cardiograph, kidney x-rays, MRI brain scan – and all free of charge. You really cannot beat our NHS.

I am still awaiting test results and I am banned from driving until I get the all clear but then I got some good news –

The Personal Safety course I had developed specifically for people who are deafblind, blind, vision impaired, deaf or hearing impaired, has just been shortlisted for the Self Management Awards 2019 in the category of “Project of the Year Award”.

I’ve named the course Personal Safety for Sensory Impaired People.

The final will take place at an Awards Ceremony in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 8th October however winners will be decided by public vote – and this is where I need YOUR help.

Can you circulate this to all your contacts / family members / work colleagues / etc.?

Public voting is from now until 26th September. The link for voting is:

My charity is called The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.

Every vote counts so please support us on this one. It would be fantastic in October to get the good news that we have won the award with your help – so thanks in advance.

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