Charity founder selected as MSP’s local hero

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Modest Hillhead man Robert Smith has insisted his nomination as Strathkelvin and Bearsden’s local hero is to be in the name of his whole charity.

Mr Smith runs Kirkintilloch charity GRACE – Group Recovery Aftercare Community Enterprise – which helps people recover from trauma.

The 51-year-old was chosen by Rona Mackay MSP due to his devotion in helping people return to the community after darker moments in their lives.

Mental illness, addiction and family problems are covered by GRACE, which formed in 2013 and has workshops and activities on five days a week at Hillhead Community Hall.

Mr Smith said: “I am absolutely blessed by this nomination but it has to go to the whole of GRACE. I was reluctant to accept because I’m not doing this for the publicity – I’m just the figurehead here.

“On behalf of all the members and volunteers at GRACE, I’d like to thank Rona for nominating me, though, because the journeys people go through at GRACE, how people can be rebuilt, is just incredible.”

GRACE was formed in 2013 and started off with Robert holding an activity one day a week.

Now it has evolved and holds creative writing, digital classes, arts and crafts, living on a budget workshops and much more.

The charity is peer led, which Robert says attributes to the success and growth of GRACE. Many volunteers who run events entered as service users.

Rona Mackay MSP said: “I was honoured to welcome Robert Smith to the Scottish Parliament as our local hero for Strathkelvin and Bearsden.

“GRACE has been changing lives in my constituency, and when I visited I was struck by how devoted Robert is to helping people.

“Aftercare is so important to bringing people back into the community after a challenging time in their lives and by highlighting GRACE I hope it will help its endeavour to help more people.”