ONE of the best things about the job I do is getting to work with local community and voluntary groups.

Clackmannanshire's voluntary sector is awash with enthusiastic and dedicated individuals, who believe in what they're doing and make better the lives of others and their communities.

Local volunteers are among the most inspiring folk I've met, and with the end of Volunteers Week on Monday 7 June, it feels fitting to pay tribute to the work that they have done throughout the challenging circumstances we've been living with for more than a year now.

This includes people who volunteer through excellent organisations, such as The Gate who have provided a lifeline for vulnerable and older people over the course of the past year.

However, it also includes those who signed up early on to pick up prescriptions, or collect some essential groceries for people who were shielding in their homes. Each of these acts may seem small, but the difference they make to people's lives is huge.

So I'd like to take the opportunity to thank volunteers across Clackmannanshire on behalf of all our communities. There are a great many people grateful for all you've done.

Our communities are also enriched by the number of EU nationals we have living in them. Folk from across the European continent, who have paid us the greatest compliment by calling Scotland their home.

It's been crucial for my colleagues and I to do everything we can to ensure that these people - who make an immense contribution to our daily lives – have been made to feel wanted and at home in Scotland, despite the ongoing saga that is Brexit.

Brexit has demonstrated the biggest divergence in living memory between where Scotland wants to be and where the UK is going.

Leaving the EU – which wasn't the choice of the majority of the people of Scotland – under the terms set by Boris Johnson has brought about severe challenges for a lot of our locally based businesses.

These challenges are particularly pronounced when coupled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our economy.

However, this month gives us the final few weeks in which EU nationals living here can apply to the UK government's Settlement Scheme.

This would give those from the EU either pre-settled or settled status (depending on their length of stay in the UK to date), continuing residency and working rights.

To be clear, it is my view that this system is entirely unfair. In my opinion, the UK Government could have just as easily offered EU nationals already resident in the UK automatic settled status.

In addition to this, the Scottish Government is pressing the Home Office to extend their deadline for Settlement Scheme applications, however as it stands, the deadline is June 30.

Therefore as much as I dislike the system, if you are an EU national I urge you to submit your application as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. If you know friends or family in this situation, pester them until they've done it.

Scotland is your home, and we want you to stay.