Volunteers awarded group MBE for helping children

Volunteers collect the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
Volunteers collect the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

A charity which has been caring vulnerable children in the Scottish Borders for the past 50 years has been awarded the equivalent of an MBE.

Borders Children’s Charity which provides financial help for children in desperate situations has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, one of the greatest honours available to a collective of volunteers in the UK.

The prestigious award was officially presented to the group by Lord-Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale Richard Scott on Tuesday at Scottish Borders Council headquarters.

Spokeswoman Cat Macdonald-Home, outgoing chairwoman of the Borders Children’s Charity (BCC) said: “This is the highest award that can be given to a voluntary group in the UK.

“It is a tremendous honour and recognition that comes on the back of our 50th anniversary.

“It’s wonderful to recognise all the volunteers who have worked so hard for the charity over the years.”

Staffed entirely by volunteers, BCC is now in its 51st year.

With virtually no overheads, it directs over 99 per cent of every penny raised to help children in the Scottish Borders in physical, financial or emotional distress.

Supported by individuals, schools, community groups and local and national businesses, BCC receives requests for assistance from healthcare, social work and education professionals who know of a child in need.

In 2016/17, BCC supported 215 applications, spending over £48,000.

Run by a committee of 12 volunteers, BCC has provided beds, bedding, bedroom furniture and floor rugs and assisted with special equipment and funding for various items for children with physical and mental disabilities.

It has also provided basics such as clothes and shoes to children or treats and holidays for young carers who look after parents or siblings.

The charity has also been able to help children in chaotic, stressful and abusive circumstances to enjoy hobbies, sporting activities or school trips

Cat said: “The committee would not be able to achieve all that it has without the support from the community across the Scottish Borders who help us to assist children in dire need in the area.

“The number of applications have gone up considerably over the years which is very sad,

“But on the other hand it means we are fulfilling our role and that professional people feel confident about coming to us.

“We meet monthly to discuss applications we receive. The requests we receive can be heartbreaking.

“Often an application will be read out and then there will be a silence from the committee. After we gulp we get on with it.

“As the awareness of the charity has grown, so have the number of people looking for help.

“We are there for anyone across the area from Peebles to Eyemouth.”

Over the past few years the BCC has been busy promoting itself using social media to help spread the word of the work it is doing.

Big names such as Marks and Spencer and TSB have responded to the call for sponsorship as have small local business and sole traders who want to give something back to their local community.

Cat said: “Being involved with the BCC is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.

“It’s great to see a charity in action working at a local level. It’s also fantastic to work with such a dedicated team of people from across the area.”

Cat added: “BCC was born 51 years ago when a group of farmers’ wives sat around a kitchen table to discuss the best way to help a sick child whose family had experienced hardship.

“They organised raffles, cake sales, and fundraisers and the charity moved on from there.

“It’s interesting when you speak to people who were there 51 years ago and they say they would never have expected it to still be going today. But it’s not only still going, it has gone from strength to strength.”

Visit www.borderschildrenscharity.org.uk.