SMILE Counseling in West Lothian celebrates winning Charity of the Year

A West Lothian charity that supports young people with mental health issues is celebrating after being named Scottish Charity of the Year 2022.

SMILE Counseling offers a free counseling service for 11-24 year olds across West Lothian.

Its dedicated team aims to have a positive impact on the lives of those who have family or school problems, anxiety, depression, anger or who simply need to talk to someone, but have difficulty trouble talking to loved ones.

The charity’s services include face-to-face counseling sessions, one-on-one phone calls, emails and online chats.

West Lothian charity The Larder has also been shortlisted.

Declan Harrigan, Founder/CEO of SMILE Counseling paid tribute to The Larder, saying they are in a category full of very worthy causes.

He said: “We have been absolutely shocked and overwhelmed to have won Scottish Charity of the Year 2022.

“In a category full of deserving winners, especially The Larder also from West Lothian, we were honored 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 all encompassing SMILE services. Every charity in the evening deserved to be Charity of the Year in my opinion.

“The Third Sector’s passion, drive and determination to drive change for the better makes me proud every day to have created SMILE Counseling as a Third Sector service.

“This award is recognition of the truly demanding, yet rewarding, work we are involved in – acknowledging our amazing team and their willingness to go the extra mile to do what is necessary for their customers.

“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 past seven years in other counties and that will be part of our future plans.

“No child should be left behind or without support. If this award highlights the need for additional mental health services in children’s services, it can only be positive.

“We are very proud to be Charity of the Year this year. We are still emotional and 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.

Declan Harrigan, CEO of SMILE

The judges said: “They support young people who come through their doors during difficult times with a people-led approach to listening to support mental well-being.

“After a year of tremendous change and growth, SMILE Counseling continues to offer new projects to support greater awareness of mental health and wellbeing, has developed a new training division and will soon provide individual counseling tailored to 1000 customers.”

Organized annually by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organizations (SCVO), the Scottish Charity Awards celebrate the best of the voluntary sector and this year’s shortlist included 44 individuals and organizations from charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups Across the country.

Anna Fowlie, Managing Director of SCVO, said: “At SCVO, we know that every day voluntary organizations across the country work tirelessly to support the people and communities they help and have incredible impact.

“We are delighted to have been able to come together in person to celebrate the achievements of our finalists and winners after hosting the ceremonies for the previous two years online.

“This year’s finalists have all demonstrated resilience, adaptability and commitment to their communities and it is a privilege to be able to celebrate their successes.

“Congratulations to all the winners !”

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