GCU student and role model receives National Diversity Award nomination for work as a local volunteer

Wed, 21 Apr 2021 16:19:00 BST
(Pictured above) 3rd Year Social Sciences student Catherine Jean Mackie
(Pictured above) 3rd Year Social Sciences student Catherine Jean Mackie

A GCU student has been nominated for a national award in recognition of her voluntary work in her local community.

Third year Social Sciences student Catherine Jean Mackie has been nominated for a Positive Role Model (Age) Award at The National Diversity Awards, for her work as a volunteer befriender with the group Number One Befriending Agency.

The National Diversity Awards is an annual event which celebrates and recognises those who have helped tackle social issues within their communities. Catherine, who has been volunteering throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, has been recognised for her efforts to help people feel less isolated during the pandemic.

She said: “When the COVID-19 pandemic first became prevalent in Scotland, there were calls for people to volunteer in their communities.

I had seen first-hand the impact of shielding on my papa and his wife Maureen, despite myself and other family members regularly video calling them. When I saw on Volunteer Glasgow’s website that the Number One Befriending Agency (a local charity that supports vulnerable, isolated and elderly clients) were looking for volunteers, I applied as I really wanted to make a positive difference.

I was matched up with a client and as her befriender, I call her twice a week; checking in on her and helping reduce her feelings of isolation. We’ve developed a good bond and we both really look forward to the calls, and I can see a positive difference in her since I was matched with her! I also organise virtual events for the clients such as quizzes and social discussions and these virtual events have helped the clients to make new friends and feel less lonely. Some have even managed to video call family members they hadn’t seen in a long time because they now know how to use Zoom! “

She added: “I also helped to plan some of the virtual Scottish Youth Parliament Sitting socials, which was also exciting as the socials helped MSYPs to informally socialise during what has been a lonely and isolating time for many.”

Catherine was delighted to have been nominated for a National Diversity Award. She said: “It's a huge honour! Anyone can nominate someone for the Awards, and when I received the email saying that someone had nominated me, I felt so grateful for the nomination knowing someone took time out of their day to nominate me. It also feels surreal knowing that I’m a nominee for a well-recognised award, up against others who are also making a positive difference.”

She added: “I feel very excited and grateful that I've been nominated. I was pleasantly surprised and couldn't quite believe it when I received the email and Twitter notification, as I didn't expect to be nominated for such an amazing award!”

Through her experience has a befriender, Catherine has seen the difference that volunteering can make for communities and hopes that more people will join in supporting their local area. She said: “It's important to try to be a positive role model in general, but even more so thanks to COVID-19.

I think it's especially important now to be a good role model because the pandemic has been very draining on people. Seeing positive role models volunteering and giving back to their communities will hopefully inspire others to give back to their communities as well, which is needed as vulnerable people are still isolated due to the pandemic.

More generally, positive role models are also important because they also inspire us to engage in positive action and to make a beneficial difference!”

Find out more about the National Diversity Awards on their website and social media


By Rachael McAlonan

Got a SCEBE or GSBS story? Email me at or connect with me on social media