Case Studies

AVA are involved with groups, volunteers and organisations the length and breadth of Aberdeenshire - from Fraserburgh to Fettercairn, Balmedie to Braemar and everywhere in between. Read our case studies to get a flavour of the kind of work we do to help communities to thrive and connect across our area.

The Seed Box Ltd

Our Development Officer Aileen Longino has worked with Social Enterprise and AVA member,  The Seed Box Ltd based out of the Walled Garden at  Ballogie Estate in South West Aberdeenshire for a number of years and has seen it bloom in that time!

As a Horticultural and Outdoor Therapy Centre which aims to improve the social, emotional and physical health of its Service users. It provides a day service for adults with additional support needs, who are presently unable to work in mainstream employment.

The have a small team employed but rely heavily on volunteers to support the service and its users. Having already transformed the Walled Garden at Ballogie from a neglected wasteland to a thriving and beautiful space for visitors at Open days to enjoy, they now work out of Glen Tanar Walled Garden too. They run a Veg Bag Scheme to surrounding residents with drop-offs in the villages and have for years supported local Farmers Markets such as Ballater. Working with AVA they saw a need for a new Farmers Market in Aboyne and that has come to fruition this summer on the second Saturday every month. This is proving so successful that a this months market they had 27 stalls many of which sell out! Set in the beautiful surrounding of Aboyne Green its becomes the focal point for the whole village.

Aileen said, “Work with the Seed Box is an absolute pleasure, their enthusiasm for their work is remarkable and their zest to continually improve is second to none. Advising them on a number of issues including funding, governance, marketing and business planning is always very rewarding for me too!”

Seedbox montage 

The Power of Volunteering

Jan had spent the last 20 years+ caring for family members and 2 years ago started volunteering at the Acorn Centre in their Fairtrade shop, UBUNTU. Jan was thinking about getting back into work, but wasn’t sure where to start, she was referred to AVA by the Employment Support Team (Aberdeenshire Council) who thought more volunteering might help. AVA Development Officer, Meriem first met Jan in January 2019, she was keen to volunteer in an office environment providing admin support as she’d been in this line of work before taking on caring responsibilities. Meriem got in touch with Grampian Opportunities (GO), who were in need of a volunteer at their front desk, Jan had a great first meeting and started volunteering regularly. Jan was responsible for meeting and greeting, making folk feel welcome and also supported staff with general admin.

For Jan to start applying for jobs, she needed an up-to-date her CV and to identify where her strengths lay. Even though she had not been working for the last 20 years, Jan had developed and gained lots of experience and skills as a full time carer. Meriem referred Jan to Debbie Mackay at Community Learning and Development (CLD) who was running a SQA Employability Award. The award is a fantastic way to get back into employment and gain qualifications along the way, lasting 8-10 weeks. Jan successfully completed the award alongside her volunteering at the Acorn Centre and GO.

Jan’s volunteering at the Acorn Centre and GO coupled with her SQA Employability Award gave her the confidence to start applying for jobs. Much to Jan (and everyone’s delight), she was successful in her job search, and has accepted a job as a pupil escort with Aberdeenshire Council!

Jan’s story is a testament to how a self-motivated individual can use volunteering as route back into work and the role that AVA, the Acorn Centre, GO and CLD played in that journey.

If you would like to start volunteering, what-ever your motivation, and are un-sure how to get started, please do get in touch with your local Development Officer. 

Deeside Farmers Markets

Deeside is very lucky  to have to fabulous three fabulous local Farmers Markets which AVA supports. Torphins Market is every Wednesday from 10-2 at Platform 22 in Torphins. This is one of the few markets in Scotland that runs every week come rain, hail or shine! Aboyne Farmers Market, which takes place on Aboyne Green, runs on the second Saturday of every month (so the next one is 10th August) and Ballater Farmers Market runs on the 4th Saturday of every month on Ballater Green (their next one is 24th August). All play a huge part in the community and are support by locals and visitors alike. Recently, AVA has supported each of the markets with marketing, offered funding advice, governance support and business planning - helping them to thrive.

Aboyne Farmers Market