Published 20 November 2023
A support group tackling the stigma around men’s mental health by offering safe spaces and activities around West Dunbartonshire has been chosen as Citizen of the Year.
Jamie MacLean set up Mentor Scotland in 2022 after realising there was a need for extra support when going through his own mental health struggles.
Starting off as a talking group for men, it has quickly expanded to offer members – both male and female – social opportunities including walking, open water swimming and badminton.
Speaking at the Provost’s Civic Awards event on Friday evening, Jamie said: “I started Mentor Scotland after my own struggles with mental health and the need to find a connection.
“That is what we offer people who are going through a tough time – the opportunity to make real life connections through talking groups or activities. One positive conversation a day can make such a difference.
“We have seen our members’ lives and their outlook completely change after joining us and it’s fantastic to know we are giving people a place to turn and given them the support they need.”
Jamie, who outlined plans for the Dumbarton organisation’s future including seeking charitable status, added: “We started off as a men’s mental health group but we are expanding all the time, and we now welcome everyone along to be part of Mentor Scotland. We are so proud to be chosen as Citizen of the Year and we are looking forward to doing more in the future to support people all over West Dunbartonshire.”
Earlier in the night, the group also picked up an award for Community/Voluntary (Team) Champion at Clydebank Town Hall.
Provost Douglas McAllister said: “Congratulations to Mentor Scotland, who are extremely deserving of the title of Citizen of the Year for the support they give to some of our most vulnerable residents. Great strides are being made to rid the stigma of mental health, in particular with regards to men, and hearing about the work they do – from talking group to open water swimming, badminton and football – has shown how dedicated they are to making a difference in West Dunbartonshire.
“All of our winners and nominees are so deserving of the praise they have been given, from volunteering their own free time to give opportunities in the arts, to putting West Dunbartonshire on the map with their amazing sporting achievements and ensuring our communities are empowered. They are all truly awe-inspiring.
“What makes this inspirational work even more special is that more often than not it is done under the radar without much thanks and so it has been an absolute pleasure to recognise their dedication publicly tonight and show them how grateful we all are.”
Other award winners across four categories were recognised for going above and beyond for West Dunbartonshire.
Awestruck Academy was named as Arts and Culture Champion for their efforts to create a community space so young people can experience and enjoy the arts as well as socialize and build confidence. The Clydebank organisation offers a range of different activities including access to musical instruments, free tuition, art and digital learning sessions and a safe space for young people to build their confidence and enjoy the arts.
The Sports Champion Award was given to professional para table tennis player Martin Perry, from Dumbarton, who despite being born with a condition called Congenital Limb Loss and Deformity resulting in him having no hands and one leg, has had major success in the sporting world including securing a bronze medal at the World Championships.
In the Community/Voluntary Champion (Individual) category, Nichola Mable was named winner for her work The Recycle Room, which she set up in a bid to reduce landfill waste but after seeing families in need, quickly developed the Clydebank community organisation and now provides practical items from clothes to electrical goods to ensure the most vulnerable in the community don’t go without.
And seven-year-old Olivia McCord from Clydebank was crowned Youth Champion for her inspirational attitude in the face of adversity. After losing her hands and feet after battling cancer and sepsis, determined Olivia hasn’t stopped doing what she loves – she’s already been back on stage with her dance group, as well as regularly horse riding.