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The Ardross-man

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ScotCPS

Cream of Ayrshire Best Local Charity (almost)

Well folks, we were honoured to make the final three best charities in the whole of Ayrshire but disappointed not to have won the top prize.

Once nominated, a panel of judges look through each nomination and select the top 3 apparently based on merit.

   

The problem is that the top 3 then vie it out and the one with the most votes wins – in other words, it’s a popularity contest. If you have lots of friends, you win. It’s that simple.

So unfortunately, we could never win against schools, businesses, charities with lots of clients, supporters, participants. But it was an honour to be nominated and to reach the final – and the award night was a great experience.

   

The silver slava we won for reaching the final will take pride of place in my office once it gets renovated. Many thanks for all those who voted for us….and there’s always next year 😀

 

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Runner-up “Best Local Charity” 2017

Last week, our charity won the “Runner-up” silver salva trophy in West FM’s Cream of Ayrshire “Best Local Charity” Award 2017. This was presented at the awards night attended by Volunteer Executive Manager Alan Bell, instructor Michael McAllister, volunteer Emma Paterson and supporter Norma Baillie.
Many thanks to everyone who voted for us. 🙂
WEST SOUND COA awards.

Instructor Training Day September 2017

We had another fantastic Instructor Training day.

Held in our new Training Room before progressing into the Training Hall, it covered Child Protection, First Aid, Transgender awareness and updates on our practical Self Defence skills.

    

Some last minute cramming for potential new instructors – Then its time to kit up and practice our self defence skills.

   

 I’m very proud to have such a great time behind me. 😀 

New kit

The Training Hall is really becoming homely and I’ve received two really heavy duty punchbags and frames donated by Stewart from North Ayrshire Muay Thai – a huge “Thank you” Stewart.

And I also got some extra free weights;

As well as a new leg press and some spin bikes;

Our gym and training area is now complete. 😀

Thanks to everyone who has helped by donating pieces of kit. It really is very much appreciated.

Michael & David

I am very proud of Michael McAllister and David Black. They are both registered blind and have successfully completed their Instructor training and exams and now run classes for other blind people – Michael at the Barony St. John Centre in Ardrossan and David at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Falkirk.

Since qualifying, they have both featured in newspaper articles, radio shows and TV programmes and helped raise the charity’s (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) profile along the way.

Perhaps it’s best that you hear what they both have to say in their own words;

Michael, registered blind

“My name is Michael and I am registered blind. I have recently passed my exam to become a qualified Personal Safety Instructor with The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety. In broad terms, this means I will be able to train others in how to stay safe as well as show them the skills necessary to defend themselves were they to be threatened with physical violence.

Six months ago, prior to my first meeting with Principal Trainer, Alan Bell and his staff, I was an entirely different person. Frightened to walk alone at night and jumping at any perceived threat or raised voice, I walked with a hunched posture, eyes to the ground and listening for any sign of threat.  On a social level, I felt limited and emasculated by my disability.

Now, six months on, I find myself standing tall as a qualified instructor, surrounded by colleagues who helped build me up to be the confident person I am today.  When I am in public spaces, I move with confidence, safe in the knowledge that were I to be confronted by an aggressor, my training would kick in and I would know when and how to defend myself.

Classes are friendly and informal with participants being taught in small groups or on a one-to-one basis.  Instructors are well versed in working with people with a visual impairment and are happy to teach at a pace that suits you, ensuring that you are confident in having learned one skill before moving on to the next.

I cannot recommend The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety highly enough.  If you think you would benefit from learning about personal safety, please get in touch with them.  They would love to hear from you.”

 

Michael, despite being visually impaired, went on to create this poster for me, drawing a caricature of himself and how he felt before and after our training. The wording and layout are all his own design with no input from ourselves.

 

Sharon, Michael’s mum

“My son, Michael, is registered blind and gets around with the aid of a symbol cane.  Throughout his life, he has had a severe anxiety of being threatened or attacked when walking outside his home.

When you or I hear shouting or sounds of unrest, we can look around to evaluate the situation.  Michael does not have this option and can only imagine the worst.

Six months ago, Michael and I attended a one-day taster course, run by The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.  The class was a preliminary part of their drive to reach out to the visually impaired community in Scotland and teach them about personal safety skills, including self defence.  The staff were great with Michael and taught him a few moves.  He left that day, brimming with confidence.

Michael has been training with the centre for six months now and has recently passed his exam to become a fully qualified personal safety instructor.  In that six months, I saw him grow more confident with every passing weekHis self esteem has never been higher and he walks with confidence now, no longer showing signs of anxiety.

This change in him was no more evident than one dark night when he and I were walking the dog and heard aggressive shouting nearby.  Explaining to him that what we were hearing was a gang of youths, I was surprised to feel Michael put his arm around mine and guide me in the opposite direction.  With a calm voice, he explained that we should choose a different route.  No more is he the scared person, asking to return home at the first sign of unrest.

As a mum, I couldn’t be more proud of Michael’s accomplishments and can’t thank The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety enough for the confidence they’ve instilled in him.

 

David, Registered Blind

“My name is David and I have been registered blind for nearly twenty years now. As a blind person, like many blind people, I have actually felt unsafe.

When I lost my vision, depression and other things took over and it took me a while to come to terms with it. I was scared to leave the house – all the usual stuff. Getting a job at The Forth Valley Sensory Centre helped me but getting there was a problem because I had to leave the house to get there.

You are taught safe routes and safe ways to get to places but still, unfortunately as a blind person, I have suffered verbal and physical abuse.

So instead of hiding at home and not doing anything, about nine years ago I took up Jujitsu and other martial arts to defend myself but I always had the question “Is this going to help me?” “Am I going to be able to defend myself?” “Is this actually going to hep me as a blind person?”.

Then about a year ago, I got in contact with Alan Bell through the Sensory Centre and he put me through a training course with The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety – and through that course they have taught me safe and easy ways to defend myself as a blind person – as a vulnerable person. My confidence has rocketed. And now I have actually passed an Instructor training course and I am going to be running personal safety courses at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre for other sensory impaired people – both blind and deaf.

I will make something of this opportunity but if it was not for Alan and the training he has given me, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

 

These guys take my breath away – they truly are awesome.

Here’s some of the press cuttings they have garnered;

I know this is not about the Barony St. John buildings – but I had to tell you about these guys. 🙂

Wallace’s Warriors

Because of our plans to incorporate a William Wallace visitor centre into the redeveloped Barony St. John church buildings, we were asked to participate in the Ardrossan Castle Gala Day parade yesterday – as William Wallace and his band of Warriors!!

The catch was that I would be dressed as Wallace complete with a massive big William Wallace head…..and we would be doing a Gaelic hakka!

Now, for those of you who don’t know, a hakka is what the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team do at the start of all their games. It’s a traditional Maori war dance made to scare the enemies off – so our dance had to be similar but in Gaelic – and performed while marching in an parade. What could be easier? 🙂

The day itself went really well as the photos below show.

        

Our “Warriors” consisted of instructors and supporters of my charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) as well as police officers, members of the Tai Chi club who use the Barony St John Centre and some blind people who come to our personal safety lessons.

It was a really good representation of our charity and a brilliant community event to be involved with.

Volunteer Awards 2017

First of all, please let me apologise for taking so long to write another blog post – I’ve been doing a lot of work for my charity.

Now most people assume that I get paid for this work but the harsh reality is, I do not.

I bought the Barony St. John buildings for my charity in December 2014 so we could provide a base for ourselves and offer courses and training from the premises. It took all of 2015 and part of 2016 to get this dream to become a reality but now we run one-to-one sessions with victims of violence, group sessions with vulnerable people including courses for the blind and visually impaired, LGBTI groups, BME groups, etc. and on top of all this, the hall is rented out to various other groups to hold their events and activities in – so we have Muay Thai,  Tai Chi, Yoga, Circuit training, dance classes and kids Krav Maga classes.

But to be this busy someone has to take the bookings, clean the hall and the toilets, take the rental money, bank the money, stock the fridge, stock the tea/coffee, etc. etc. – and that person is me (as well as instructing in a lot of the classes).

It was therefore a great surprise to hear that a few of the people I work with had put my name forward for The Ayrshire Community Trust (TACT)’s Volunteer Awards – and I was lucky enough to be nominated for three awards last week and to win one.

Usually, award ceremonies are won on votes so if I ran a club with fifty kids coming along and they all voted for me, I’d win. That’s why I don’t give much credence to them – they are popularity awards!

But these Volunteer Awards are assessed by a panel of judges who then decide on the winners – a far fairer and therefore far more prestigious award to be nominated for.

The panel consisted of Mark Gallagher (Lead Officer with North Ayrshire Alcohol & Drug Partnership),  David MacRitchie (Senior Manager with Criminal Justice Services and Chief Social Work Officer), Geoff Coleman (Public Support Manager with NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Mental Health Services), Marlene McMillan (Lead Pubic Health Practitioner with NHS Ayrshire & Arran), Rhona Arthur (Senior Manager with North Ayrshire Council’s Economy & Communities), Janet Strang (Chairperson of Cunninghamme Housing Association) Superintendent Tim Ross (Police Scotland) and Provost Ian Clarkson (North Ayrshire Council).

As you can see, this is a quality panel of judges so what followed was a great honour for me;

This is me picking up my nomination for the Health & Social Care Volunteer Award from Geoff Coleman –

 

 

 

 

I was also lucky enough to be nominated for the  Long Standing Volunteer Award which I received from Marlene McMillan –

 

 

 

 

 

And this is me getting my nomination for the Tremendous Trustee Volunteer Award from Janet Strang –

Although I wasn’t announced as the overall winner in the other categories, i did win the Tremendous Trustee Volunteer Award which was presented to me by Provost Ian Clarkson.

Like I said previously, I consider this a great honour as it comes from such a high calibre of judges – all I can say is “Thank you”.

 

As you can see, a great night was had by all and I was lucky enough to have two of the registered blind people I work with, Norma and Gillian, present as well as my parents.

         

  

 

 

Blind Date

Our fundraising Fashion Show was intended to help raise funds for some much needed renovation and repair work to the Barony St. John buildings but it turned into something much, much more than that.

Over the last year my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety (ScotCPS), has worked alongside various charities and businesses representing registered blind people as I developed a Big Lottery sponsored personal safety course specifically for the blind and visually impaired. One of these businesses was PrioritEyes, a North Ayrshire business that provides specialist rehabilitation and support for people who have low or no vision – and it was from PrioritEyes that I got some of the “modelling” team for our Fashion Show.

 

The gathered audience of almost fifty people cheered and clapped as the models, many using long canes to guide them down the catwalk, strutted their stuff. But when I saw Gillian and the rest of the PrioritEyes models come onto the catwalk, I got a lump in my throat.

The woman sat next to me burst into tears and clapped wildly.

It was a very emotional experience and I was so proud to be involved in it.

Gillian Morrow lost her sight about a year ago but then she also found out that she had breast cancer. The subsequent chemotherapy resulted in her losing all her hair but she is a real trooper. Gillian’s own words best describe her feelings;

“I have had a gruelling time with the cancer treatment and at one point I had to move out of my family home to a flat as I couldn’t cope with how it was affecting my family. Although my husband and children are extremely supportive, this Fashion Show was invaluable for me. I know that sounds like an exaggeration but after being bed bound, I was in a wheelchair for some time and I only got my long cane mobility training on Wednesday, so this was the first time I have been able to participate in anything since December. I can’t describe what a positive effect this day has had on me. It’s a massive “one-off” experience that has made me feel like my old self again.”

 

The visually impaired models, some as young as 11yrs old did us all proud and registered blind founder of PrioritEyes, Norma Bailey, said; “It was fantastic that so many people with low or no vision were involved in this event. Dressing in terrific outfits, walking the catwalk with our long canes and hearing the cheers of the audience, made it an amazing experience for us all and a wonderful day to remember.”  

The Fashion Show raised £615.45 and raffle prizes for the event were donated by various local businesses including M&Co, The Kandy Bar Bakery, Garfields, P&M Property Services, The Saltcot Wetherspoons, Cassandara’s Café, Saltcoats Tescos, Stevenston Morrisons, B&M, The Red Squirrel, A. Lothian Butchers and Belhaven Pubs & Restaurants.

I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in making this day happen from the businesses who donated raffle prizes to M&Co for allowing us to run the event in their store, our trustees and volunteers who helped organise the day, all the people who came to watch and support the event and especially the models. Thank you all for making this such a memorable day.

For more information on the Fashion Show and what the fundraising day has managed to finance, check out my charity’s Facebook page on http://www.Facebook.com/ScotCPS but in the meantime, here are a few more photos from the event. 😀

 

  

            

 

ScotCPS – look how far we’ve come

Back in early 2015, Sirens Cinematic made this video about us based on our plans at the time.

Phase 1 was completed by 2016 with most of Phase 2 now nearing completion in 2017.

Let’s see what our feasibility study says we should do now. 😀

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