Barrhead resident named as East Renfrewshire’s Citizen of the Year

A Barrhead resident who goes above and beyond to help others in the community has scooped East Renfrewshire Council’s Provost’s Award.

Oonagh McKinnon is congratulated by Provost Jim Fletcher

The Provost’s Award is an annual opportunity to thank a dedicated volunteer for their hard work, which makes a difference to their community and the lives of many others in East Renfrewshire.

Oonagh McKinnon was honoured as Citizen of the Year for her longstanding volunteering efforts to support residents and their families in Barrhead and across the wider local authority area over the past 10 years.

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Oonagh was integral to the start-up of the East Renfrewshire Additional Support Needs Parents Action Group, which supports young autistic people and young

people with additional support needs and their families.

As chairperson of the Barrhead-based group, Oonagh helps young people aged between 0-25, their siblings and families become more confident in feeling part of the community and has continued this vital work throughout the pandemic.

This inclusive group runs sessions and activities for juniors and teens, holds parent support meetings and hosts various training opportunities locally.

As chairperson of Linking Communities, a volunteer led group which strives to make the most deprived areas of East Renfrewshire better places to live, work, and visit, Oonagh also works hard to ensure Barrhead, Neilston, Thornliebank and Auchenback residents can have their say in how Participatory Budgeting funds are distributed to tackle issues that are close to their hearts.

Provost Jim Fletcher said: “It is an absolute delight to crown Oonagh as Citizen of the Year 2021.

"The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be an incredibly challenging time for everyone so the judging panel and I were looking to recognise a volunteer who has continued to go the extra mile to support their local area.

“Oonagh’s work in Barrhead and across the authority as a whole is absolutely essential and it is down to her efforts that many vulnerable people have fair and

equal opportunities to meet, play and build relationships with their peers.

“We received some fantastic nominations for Citizen of the Year 2021, so it was a tough deliberation – thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a nomination, it is clear we have so many volunteers in East Renfrewshire who work hard to help others and really are invaluable.

“The judging panel were all in agreement that Oonagh should be awarded the Provost’s Award this year for the difference that she has made to the lives of many

others across East Renfrewshire over the past 10 years. Congratulations Oonagh!”

Oonagh McKinnon, who has lived in Barrhead all her life, added: “It has been a privilege to work with our volunteers and families in building up our ERA community.

"The young people and families are very supportive of each other, and it has been wonderful to be a part of that.

“Linking Communities has been enlightening in allowing me to engage with many of the wonderful volunteers who give so much to our local communities.

“I am extremely pleased to accept this award from Provost Fletcher and hope to continue to work in the community for a long time ahead.”