The Western Isles has a strong volunteering culture and volunteers form an integral part of the local community; as in all areas of Scotland, the Saltire Awards are a fantastic way to recognise the contributions of volunteers aged between 12 and 25, however there is no such national volunteering recognition scheme for older volunteers. Like many other TSIs, Volunteer Centre Western Isles has developed its own local award scheme for adult volunteers. The Kisimul and Clisham Awards are designed to enable local organisations to celebrate the contribution of adult volunteers aged 26 and over.

One such organisation was the Western Isles Foyer. The Foyer supports young people aged 16-25 who are homeless, in housing need, and who may be subject to other significant social disadvantages. The Foyer had previously had a poly-tunnel occupying the garden space at the rear of their premises, which could be used by service users, staff and volunteers. However in January 2015, a large storm hit and the poly-tunnel was severely damaged and had to be removed. Following consultation with Foyer’s service users, it was agreed that the space would be transformed into a low maintenance garden that staff, service users and volunteers could all enjoy once again.

The messy garden before Ian began his work

The Foyer garden before

Enter willing volunteer Ian! Ian took on the challenge of transforming the garden space at Foyer, and began volunteering at the garden as part of the Foyer Gardens project in September 2015. Since then, Ian has undertaken over 400 volunteer hours, working hard even through the harsh winter months, to create a space for everyone at the Foyer to enjoy. A barbecue was held to celebrate the official opening of the garden and to say thank-you to a special someone. Bellann O’Brien, a Development Worker from Volunteer Centre Western Isles, attended the opening to present Ian with a Kisimul award, to show the Foyer’s appreciation for the outstanding commitment that Ian has demonstrated as a volunteer, and in recognition of his impact on the garden project.

We really feel that this project would never have come to fruition without all of Ian’s hard work.
Western Isles Foyer 

Ian receiving his Kisimul award in the garden with Bellan

Ian receiving his Kisimul award from Bellan


Another inspiring adult volunteer in the local community is Martin Smith, who has volunteered for the Island Book Trust for over a decade. The Island Book Trust publishes books about Scotland’s islands and their communities, hold events throughout the islands and aims to connect people and communities through an appreciation of shared history and culture. Martin has been and is, an enormous help to the Trust, undertaking a range of activities; such as driving around restocking books and putting up posters in his free time.

As a charitable organisation without the dedication of those like Martin it just wouldn’t be possible to carry out all the work we do.
Island Book Trust

Martin was the proud recipient of a Clisham Award, which recognises an outstanding commitment to volunteering, in a surprise gathering of Trust staff and volunteers, where Bellan from Volunteer Centre Western Isles presented Martin with his award.

Martin receives his Clisham Award from Bellan over tea and cakes

Martin receives his Clisham Award, presented by Bellan


Volunteer Centre Western Isles also holds a bi-annual nominated awards ceremony as part of its Volunteers’ Week celebrations. A first prize and runner up award is awarded in the following categories:

  • Volunteer of the Year,
  • Young volunteer of the year,
  • Services to volunteering
  • Organisation of the year

The next ceremony will be held in 2018.