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Volunteer Robert Pearson makes his mark on Muirhouse community

Volunteer Robert Pearson makes his mark on Muirhouse community

Robert Pearson has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

The mere look at his diary would be enough to make some tired, as he juggles his full time job at the Scottish Ambulance Service with his busy family life with his two children.

Oh, and that’s not to mention the 20 odd hours he spends volunteering within the Muirhouse community.

Quality and quantity

When Robert is not helping out in his role as chairman for the Tenants and Resident in Muirhouse group (TRIM), he is busy in the community shop on Pennywell Road where is he is the volunteer manager.

His work is clearly making its mark on the local community as he is one of the three finalists up for the Community Champion award - a category sponsored by STV Edinburgh - at the Pride of Edinburgh Awards which takes place tonight.

The Pride of Edinburgh Awards aims to honour the talented, brave and caring people within Edinburgh and Lothian, and recognise the selfless work.

How it all began

“I started interacting with the council over the state of the estate, and went along to a new tenants group to see what could be done," Robert explained.

“On the very first day I said ‘If we are not going to achieve anything here then I am not interested’. That was 18 months ago and since that time, we have grown and grown.

The 32-year-old added: “I am young to be a chairman of a tenants group, but I think because I am young, we are attracting younger people. I am also using social media to reach out to a wider audience.”

Setting up shop

Just as Robert was getting stuck into his role as chairman, he noticed a new need within the community and wasted no time seeking out and setting up a solution.

He said: "A Co-op closed and I immediately noticed prices were being exploited, with the prices of bread and milk going up.

“I saw a piece on the news about a community shop so I went up to see how they were running it then approached the council to ask if we could use one of the vacant shops.

"After a few months of talks, we got the shop. Initially, we were open a couple of days a week for a couple of hours. Now we open six days a week from 9am until 3pm.

It is more than just a community shop. We have teamed up with a local church to support a food bank from the premises and an open cafe in the shop for people with drug and alcohol issues - we don’t exclude anyone in our shop.

Community spirit shines through

One of Robert’s most notable contributions to the community came in January of this year when he helped organise hundreds of volunteers from the local community to help police searching the area for Mikaeel Kular after he was reported missing.

Through TRIM’s social media he helped gain support in numbers for the search and fundraise for a memorial.

He said: “I think the reason it happened so quickly was because we had built up a trust within the community through the residents group.

“People really stuck together and showed people that Muirhouse is not what it is made out to be all the time.

“We arranged the service at St Andrew’s Church in 12 hours. That just proved how the community pulled together.

“Everyone always asks me how I fit it all in and it is a very good question. You just learn to juggle your workload. When I have a week off at work, I can do about 40 or 50 hours a week.

"While I am still enjoying it and think that what I am doing is helping others, I will keep going.”

Follow @STVEdinburgh tonight for more on the Pride of Edinburgh Awards.

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