118 young volunteers aged between 12 and 25 were celebrated at the 10th annual Shetland Saltire Youth Volunteering Awards ceremony at Mareel Auditorium on the 6th of June 2023.
The 118 young people received a total of 256 certificates between them recognising the over 11,000 hours of volunteering they had collectively taken part in throughout the past year with 43 different local groups, schools and organisations.
The Saltire Awards, a national awards scheme, which has now been running for 10 years, is designed to recognise and reward the commitment young people make to volunteering in their community. The awards, locally managed by Voluntary Action Shetland (VAS), recognise milestones of 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500 hours of time spent volunteering and are recognised nationally by colleges, universities and employers. The anniversary event also coincided with national Volunteers’ Week for a second time in a row which runs annually from the 1st – 7th of June.
Shetland MSYP Michaela Christie opened the event with a speech about her own experience volunteering as MSYP and for various sports clubs while highlighting the importance volunteers play in Shetland. Addressing the audience she said: “Communities and clubs would not be able to run if it wasn’t for people like you and you should all be extremely proud of yourselves.” She congratulated all awardees on behalf of herself and John Fraser, who unfortunately could not attend.
Michaela also presented certificates to the volunteers, of which three received a ‘Saltire Summit Award’. The Summit is the most prestigious Saltire award which is only achieved by volunteers who have been nominated by their supervisors for making an outstanding contribution to volunteering.
Throughout the evening, event organiser, Youth Volunteer Development Worker for Voluntary Action Shetland, Lavinia Schmidt highlighted the host of activities young people have taken part in throughout the year. From various sports and youth clubs, over a selection of charities, extracurricular schools activities, social change projects and even providing musical entertainment in care homes, young people were at the heart of it.
Supervisors said their volunteers had developed skills, confidence and built lasting friendships through their time volunteering, with some of them moving into paid employment within the same organisations.
Amber Thomson, who had also provided musical entertainment earlier that night, held an inspirational closing speech about how she developed her passion in musical theatre through the ALICE Theatre Project, in which she had been a pupil, then a volunteer and finally started paid work at the project. Amber received a 100 hour Saltire award for this in 2021 but due to the pandemic could never attend. ”Being able to do something I love and get an award for it is one of the most rewarding things that has happened to me, and the same likely goes for everyone else who has achieved a similar thing”, she added.
Lavinia concluded the event by thanking all young volunteers and the organisations who continue to provide opportunities for young people. She also gave a special thanks to Michaela, John and Amber for their fantastic support in preparation and delivery of the evening despite having been in the middle of their exams while doing so.