The winners of North Yorkshire County Council’s annual community awards were announced on Friday, 3 November.
The awards, now in their third year, recognise and celebrate voluntary work by individuals and organisations countywide. They were presented at the North Yorkshire Wider Partnership Conference at The Pavilions, Harrogate.
In all, there were 102 nominations for 85 community groups, organisations or individuals from across the county. From these nominations, a shortlist was drawn up and finalists selected in each of the four categories.
The awards showcase the voluntary work done by people to make their neighbourhoods better places to live and to help the council to deliver critical services, such as providing social networks that reduce isolation and enable people to live independently for longer.
The judging panel, including representatives from the County Council, volunteer organisations, employers and young people, was impressed by the quality of the nominees.
Councillor Helen Swiers, Chairman of the County Council, said: “These awards celebrate the contribution so many people make to supporting North Yorkshire’s residents of all ages. Organisations and individual volunteers make such a big contribution to the lives of people across the county.
“It was difficult to select the finalists and even more difficult to choose the winners. All the entries show how much hard work people put into helping their communities. We have so many people in our county who are willing to give their time and share those skills to the benefit of others. Without the tens of thousands of hours the volunteers give, life for so many people would be much poorer.”
The winner of each category receives £1,000 for the relevant project, group or nominated local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. Runners-up each receive £250.
The winners are:
Best community project
Men in Sheds
Men in Sheds brings together men who may otherwise be isolated to share and learn new skills.
The group was initially set up for one year. Two and half years later it is run by a volunteer who was one of the original attendees. The group runs on Thursday at Pickering and at Kirkbymoorside on Wednesday morning. Pop-up sessions in rural areas of Ryedale are planned. Currently, the Thursday group has 22 people attending with regular new attendees. There are five volunteers as well as two volunteer drivers to bring men to the group. The men make models, do wood crafts, glass etching and go fishing. The Wednesday group has up to 10 regular attendees. The project tackles isolation, loneliness, mental health issues and transport issues and brings men together in a safe environment. While the men are in their group there is support on any issues they wish to discuss with staff. The shed is based in a community centre and because there are other activities in the hub the men interact with other people and friendships are made.
Runners-up: Community Angels, Scarborough, and RAMPS (Richmondshire Area Motorcycle Proficiency Scheme)
Best community group
Yorkshire Coast Sight Support volunteers
Yorkshire Coast Sight Support is a user-led charity that supports visually impaired residents of Scarborough. Established more than 80 years ago, its aims and objectives are to support visually impaired residents. They have 87 members, aged from 99 to 19. In the last 18 months, the group has looked closely at what its users want and has changed accordingly. It provides traditional core areas of support – form filling, liaising with consultants and clinics, provision of equipment, arranging equipment demonstrations, booking travel assistance and the many more daily tasks that sight loss makes very difficult. The charity also provides mentoring, emotional support, support with living with sight loss and advocacy and social activities.
Runners-up: Leyburn Arts & Community Centre volunteers and St John's Community Centre, Catterick Garrison
Volunteer of the year
Su Morgan (Tadcrafters)
Su Morgan brought together a group of volunteers to enhance Tadcaster with hand-crafted decorations to raise community spirit and promote local businesses struggling with loss of trade after the floods and bridge closure. She started a monthly community session for volunteers to work together and this group became Tadcrafters. Led by Su, the group decorated Tadcaster with hundreds of metres of bunting and helped Tadcaster celebrate the temporary footbridge, 2016 Tour de Yorkshire and Queen’s birthday. By summer 2016, activities extended far beyond bunting. Tadcrafters addressed a need in the community for more opportunities for social interaction. Su recognised volunteers were helping local and wider communities and benefiting themselves, developing skills and growing in confidence by learning and sharing their knowledge with others. In August 2016, Su submitted for Tadcrafters to become a Community Interest Company and received a grant from Selby District Council’s Community Engagement Forum for the hugely positive impact on the town and surrounding community.
Runners-up: Atmaram Dahal, of Catterick, and Karen Murray, chair of trustees at Ripon Community Link and Ripon Walled Garden
Young people volunteering award
Teenager Catherine has volunteered at Settle Stories for two years and has been instrumental in the delivery of their Heritage Lottery-funded project, Tom Twisleton 100. Her ideas were at the forefront of the grant application and upon receiving the grant she has been at the heart of the strategic thinking for the project and has been a key member and contributor to the steering group. She has rounded up all her friends and managed to get peers at her school interested in engaging with local heritage. She has communicated on behalf of other young people and helped the project staff think about the project from the perspective of what will engage local teenagers’ enthusiasm.
Runner-up: Young Carers Youth Council, Scarborough & Ryedale
Further information on the runners-up in each category:
Best community project
Community Angels support vulnerable people in Scarborough town centre on a one-to-one basis in various ways, often in their home. Community Angels, with its coordinator and volunteer team, is supported from three town centre churches in Scarborough and operates in the town centre, particularly Castle Ward. The Angels see people in their own homes on a one-to-one basis and help them in various ways. The team of volunteers is comprised of people aged between early 20s to late 60s with a varied wealth of experiences and knowledge gained from prior training, roles, other voluntary agencies and life. Volunteers attend training on issues such as mental health, dementia and self-harm to be equipped to serve the community in a professional manner. Clients are referred from many statutory agencies, including the NHS, police and local authority and are supported initially for three months, some for nine months or more through a life crisis to challenging events.
RAMPS (Richmondshire Area Motorcycle Proficiency Scheme)
RAMPS provides young people with the opportunity to control and ride motorcycles in a safe environment. Over the past 12 years it has played a valuable part in educating young riders about the dangers and pitfalls of motorcycle-related incidents on roads throughout North Yorkshire. Participants are supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, all of whom have a vast knowledge of motorcycles and their equipment. Instructors are keen to share their experience and skills with the young people so that they are able to gain and improve their skills and knowledge while riding. RAMPS is a four-week project for four young riders aged between 13 and 19. During a typical year the team will deliver six or seven courses. Some of the young people who have taken part in the project have since returned as young volunteers and have become valued members of the RAMPS team.
Best community group
Leyburn Arts & Community Centre volunteers
Leyburn Arts and Community Centre is a charity that strives to bring to the town a wide variety of activities, including arts and crafts, music, theatre and film, workshops, fitness and wellbeing sessions. The vision and hard work of dedicated volunteers have transformed a redundant Victorian school house into a valuable asset for the residents of Leyburn and the surrounding villages. The aim is to provide a place for locals and visitors to come together, in a welcoming atmosphere, to enjoy art in its many forms or just for a cup of tea and a chat. Of particular note are the twice monthly sessions when members of the community who are socially isolated are entertained in various ways for an afternoon. This has proved to be an enormous success, mainly down to the enthusiasm, dedication and hard work of the volunteers who cook for the events and look after all aspects of this activity. The clients who attend have made firm friends and it has become a highlight in their lives
St John's Community Centre
The St John's Community Centre in Catterick Garrison is a charitable incorporated organisation that provides a range of good-quality community services in a friendly, comfortable setting.
The centre holds weekly events, including quizzes and competitions, board and table games, food and wine tasting events, carpet games and baking and cooking, supported by 67 volunteers and eight members of staff. As well as the weekly events held at the centre itself, the charity provides day services, internet shopping, assisted shopping and sitting service across Richmondshire. The volunteers are aged between 18 and 80, with many having been a volunteer at the centre for more than 15 years, although some move as they are attached to MOD. Members of the Centre are older, vulnerable adults with varying conditions. The centre has helped more than 4,000 vulnerable adults over the past year with varying health needs, including amputees, people with MS, Huntington's disease, dementia, Alzheimer's, frailty and mental health problems. It provides a vital support service for both members and their carers through their sitting respite service.
Volunteer of the year
Atmaram Dahal has organised community initiatives in the Catterick area, including community cohesion work, physical activity and cultural events. He led a two-year project to set up and run Parkrun in Catterick and volunteers as a run director. He is a Pandit (Hindu religious teacher) at the Gurkha Company Temple, Catterick. Outside of work, he welcomes many visitors from the wider community to the temple, including school visits, cadets and scouts. He teaches culture, moral value to school children, Hindu culture, ritual religion and also regularly supports culture and religion to the community, including Nepali, commonwealth and wider communities. He has organised many community activities, assisted with cleaning recent flood-affected areas, helped to tidy up St Mary Church in Richmond, organised drug awareness events, the Khukuri Cup football competition and youth talent competitions. He has been instrumental in ensuring that the needs of the minority population are taken into consideration by local services and local council policy development. He has secured funds for yoga lessons and various Nepalese cultural events. These events have been attended by people from the wider community, helping to facilitate cultural understanding and acceptance. He also led the two-year project to find an appropriate Parkrun venue at Catterick. The first run took place on 17 June 2017. He now volunteers as a run director to provide event management every week.
Karen Murray is chair of trustees at Ripon Community Link and Ripon Walled Garden, supporting young people and adults with learning difficulties to achieve their life goals. She also acts as a mentor, advocate and volunteer, providing support to the management team and ensuring that members are listened to. She has been chair of trustees for about three years. The charity provides a local day care service, which supports the community in ensuring everyone has the same opportunities to achieve. Ripon Walled Garden also provides a horticulture, catering and visitor attraction which is open to the public and engages people with learning opportunities in a real life work scenario. Karen also acts as a mentor, advocate and volunteer. She supports the management team and will ensure the members’ at all three sites are actively listened to, ensuring everybody has equal access to the activities on offer.
Young people volunteering award
Young Carers Youth Council, Scarborough & Ryedale
The Young Carers Youth Council is a group of dedicated young people aged 10 to 19, who have developed and delivered the #wecare campaign to create awareness of young carers’ lives. They are all young carers who have chosen to ensure their experiences do not go untold for the benefit of other young carers who may be experiencing similar challenges. Within the last academic year, they have developed a #wecare campaign. This includes a short presentation on 24 hours in the life of a young carer, which they have given to 16 groups of influential adults. This has increased awareness of the complexity of our young people’s daily routines and its influence on their school performance. Their work has already influenced the broader work of Carers Resource – #wecare has offered the staff team an opportunity to revisit the service delivery to young carers, schools and wider services beneficiaries.