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A leading social enterprise is being recognised by the Stirling-based mental health charity, Action in Mind, for excellence in its volunteer-led service provision. The charity’s Working Together Award for 2014 was received by Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of PAS, the impartial organisation which inspires individuals to be aware of the planning process and their role within it.

The award was prompted by excellent and sensitive advice provided by Message Matters’ client PAS to a local mental health carer over a planning application for her son with schizophrenia. The assistance provided was part of the existing Scotland-wide role of PAS in providing impartial advice on the planning process, through a national network of almost 400 volunteer planning advisors.

PAS is a trusted, impartial organisation with over 20 years of experience which inspires individuals to be aware of the planning process and their role within it. The social enterprise raises civic awareness of the positive effect good planning can create for all, as well as offering specialist training for seldom heard groups, including Gypsy/Travellers and black and ethnic minority groups. The training is run by various planning and community development professionals and helps groups’ understanding of the planning system and how they can influence it to best meet their particular needs. The organisation also provides aftercare and support.

Handing over the Working Together Award for 2014, Helena Scott Executive Director of Action in Mind said: “We are so delighted that Planning Aid for Scotland accepted our Working Together Award for 2014. Recognising the huge contribution that volunteer planners make to helping local people navigate around the planning system is essential for ensuring we have communities that meet with everyone’s needs.

“PAS is a leader in community engagement, often tackling what to many is difficult, accessing groups and communities that are disengaged from the mainstream with the subject of planning that is itself not always easy to understand.”

Chief Executive of PAS, Petra Biberbach, said: “I was delighted to receive this award on behalf of our many Advice Service volunteers, this recognition gets to the very heart of what PAS is all about. Too many people, particularly the most vulnerable, find the planning process too complex and need the kind of impartial advice that only PAS and our volunteer advisors can provide.

“That advice is always provided free of charge, and PAS is providing more and more help year on year, all over Scotland.”