Derry man’s charity wins Scottish Charity of the Year

A children’s charity set up in Scotland by a Derry man has won Scottish Charity of the Year.
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‘Smile Counselling,’ founded by Declan Harrigan, offers free counselling and support to young people in West Lothian.

Declan, who moved from Derry to Scotland over 10 years ago, has over 20 years’ experience working with the most vulnerable young people in both Ireland and Scotland.

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S.M.I.L.E was nominated for the award, run by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), alongside many other well-known charities across the country.

Declan Harrigan and his team accept the award.Declan Harrigan and his team accept the award.
Declan Harrigan and his team accept the award.

Speaking to the Journal, Declan, who grew up in the Brandywell area and is a past pupil of St Joseph’s Boys’ School, said he and his dedicated team are over the moon.

“We were absolutely shocked and overwhelmed at winning Scottish Charity of the Year 2022. In a category full of deserving winners and especially the Larder also from West Lothian. We were humbled and graciously accepted the award not only on behalf of our staff, volunteers, and trustees but on behalf of all our clients, students and participants who all encompass S.M.I.L.E services.

“For this being the first awards after covid in person there was an extra air of excitement and emotion in the room. Every single charity on the evening deserved to be charity of the year this year in my opinion. The passion, drive, and determination in the third sector to instil change for the better makes me proud every day that I set S.M.I.L.E Counselling up as a third sector service.”

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He added: “This award to us indicates a recognition of the truly demanding but rewarding work we are involved in. Recognising our amazing team and their willingness to go that extra mile to do what is needed for their clients.

“As I said during the acceptance, we don’t want to have to exist for children and young people, however, as long as they need us, we will be there.

“Our vision has always been to be able to replicate what we have done in West Lothian over the last seven years in other counties and this will be part of our future plans.

“No child should be left behind or without support, if this award shines a brighter light on the need for additional services for mental health in children services, then this can only be positive.

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“We are very proud to be this year’s charity of the year, we are still emotional and in a bit in disbelief, but we will accept it with pride and as an indicator to keep pushing forward for positive change and it shows that with vision and passion, nothing is impossible.”