We chatted with Cllr Euan Jardine, winner of the Resilience and Recovery award at the Scottish Cllr Awards 2021, to discuss the fundamental role of community-level action during the pandemic and what he hopes to accomplish next.
Elected to the Scottish Borders Council in 2017, Cllr Jardine tells us that, in his life before politics, he worked in sport, retail and office management. Although his core passion for local governance is clear, his love of sports was not something he was ever willing to leave behind, sharing that “running and going to sporting events is a big passion of mine” – all of which has aligned together nicely in his current role as executive member for Wellness, Sport and Culture.
Winning the Resilience and Recovery category at the Scottish Cllr Awards is quite the achievement in a year plagued by the hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic. Cllr Jardine truly earned this recognition, even in the most tumultuously of times, he never hesitated to take the lead and make sure everyone in the community of Galashiels had support throughout.
Find out more about why Cllr Jardine won the Resilience and Recovery award right here:
At the start of the pandemic, Cllr Jardine launched a resilience team, which subsequently helped hundreds of people in several different ways – including delivering food parcels to food banks and those most in need. Talking about the inspiration behind this valuable initiative, Cllr Jadine shares that very early on in the pandemic it dawned on him that more community-level action was needed because of “the vast number of people shielding and requiring assistance”, he adds “which was, of course, made worse by supermarket slots for home delivery being unavailable for many people.”
Cllr Jardine’s resilience group included a direct line telephone number and email address to ensure there was always someone available to assist – something that was only feasible due to his recruitment efforts to create a thriving network of volunteers. Upon reflection, Cllr Jardine remarks that the most difficult challenge with the initiative was definitely ‘coordinating the volunteers’. He explains, “Many of whom were working whilst helping out with the team. Plus another issue was gaining access to supermarkets without having volunteers waiting in the long queues to access the store.” Cleverly, Cllr Jardine and his team were able to work closely with the local Tesco Supermarket to provide a quick access route for the volunteers.
Cllr Jardine shares that winning the Resilience and Recovery award was a ‘humbling’ experience. He elaborates;
“I just didn’t expect to be recognised, as I felt I was doing what was needed to help people during a crisis. However, I am touched and delighted to receive the award and would like to thank those who nominated me, the judges and all involved at LGIU.”
Looking towards the future, Cllr Jardine has many big goals and challenges ahead. This includes playing a central role in the ‘Build Back a Better Border’ scheme – which has designated £500,000 to community groups as they work to deliver opportunities that will improve life in the border region post-pandemic. In addition, Cllr Jardine has an innovative idea around establishing esports in the borders, he explains, “This will bring opportunities for young people through further education and career avenues. I am also trying to link Galashiels and District Ward and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.”