LIFE-SAVING, life-changing, frequently life-enhancing, Scotland would not be the same country without the work of our public services, charities and social businesses.
Over the last year The Herald has reported on the work of welfare advisors and food banks, housing associations and health initiatives, not to mention ground-breaking initiatives in tackling climate change, policing and youth work.
For some of the most vulnerable groups in society, challenges they face have been exacerbated by government austerity policies and cutbacks. That is why it is important to recognise those schemes, teams and individuals who make a real difference, which is what we try to do with the annual Herald Society awards.
Today we launch the Herald Society Awards 2015, back for their eighth year to highlight the most imaginative and effective work in the public and voluntary sectors over the past 12 months.
There are 13 categories to enter, including a new category, the Legacy 2014 Award, which will look for work which has contributed to a lasting legacy from Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Each year, an expert panel of judges helps us to assess the most committed workers and teams, and the best projects, from the hundreds of entries we receive.
No other awards cover the full range of Scotland’s public services and voluntary sector.
The eventual winners will be recognised at a gala event and dinner on Wednesday November 4, at Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, hosted by Cathy Macdonald.
Sport and Health Improvement Minister Jamie Hepburn said he was delighted that Legacy 2014 would be sponsoring the newest award, a year on from the Commonwealth Games.
“From the day we won the bid there has been an enormous amount of effort to secure a lasting legacy for the Games,” he said
“There are dozens of projects in communities across Scotland, and hundreds if not thousands of people involved in making that legacy a reality. It’s quite right that their efforts are recognised.”
Other sponsors helping make the event a reality include Glasgow Caledonian University School of Health & Life Sciences who for the second year running will be sponsoring our search for 2015’s best Older People’s Project.
Vincent McKay, dean of GCU’s School of Health and Life Sciences said: “We hope this award will highlight the diverse range of work being done across Scotland to improve the lives or lifestyles of older people as well as inspire others to get involved.”
EVH will also return as a sponsor for the Unsung Hero Award.
Eamonn Connolly, Director, EVH said of their partnership: “EVH – Supporting Social Employers has been happily associated with the Herald Society Awards for many years now.
“These awards champion Scotland’s public and third sectors and as we put our support behind the ‘Unsung Hero Award’ category again this year we look forward to learning of the inspirational stories that lead to the nominations and meeting the heroes behind them who have made such a real difference.”
Firstport will also return as a sponsor of the Social Entrepreneur category. Karen McGregor, Firstport chief executive, said: “We hope this award will highlight the diverse range of innovative social enterprises in Scotland and inspire other would-be entrepreneurs to make their ideas a reality.
Jim Sweeney, chief executive of Youthlink Scotland, which sponsors the Young People’s Project of the Year category, said: “As the National Agency for Youth Work we recognise the value and contribution young people make in their communities and look forward to celebrating the achievements they have made in projects throughout Scotland.
Nominations open today and more details of the programme, judges and speakers will be revealed in these pages in the weeks ahead.