Shortlisted nominees for North Yorkshire County Council’s annual Community Awards have been announced.
Pictured: finalists at last year's awards ceremony
This year’s awards attracted 66 nominations for 64 different groups and individuals. Of these, 17 have been shortlisted. Members of the judging panel, including representatives from the council, volunteer organisations and young people, will visit the shortlisted nominees during August and September, after which the finalists will be chosen.
Finalists will be invited to the North Yorkshire wider partnership conference on Friday, 26 October, where the winners will be announced. The winner of each category will receive £1,000 for the project, group or nominated relevant local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. Two runners-up in each category will receive £250.
The awards, now in their fourth year, celebrate the county’s unsung heroes, the volunteers who make a huge contribution to help to deliver the services that make their communities better places. They recognise voluntary work by individuals and organisations, celebrating the variety and value of this work to make neighbourhoods better places in which to live and to help the County Council to deliver critical services, for example by providing social networks that reduce isolation and enable people to live independently for longer.
County Councillor Robert Windass, chair of the County Council, said: “We received many worthy nominations, so it was a difficult but rewarding task to draw up this shortlist and to see the hard work that all the nominees put into helping their communities. The awards confirm the wealth of skills that people are willing to share to the benefit of those less fortunate. Without the tens of thousands of hours volunteers give each year, life for many people in North Yorkshire would be much poorer.”
Below are the shortlisted nominees in each of the four categories.
Best community group – awarded to groups carrying out ongoing voluntary activity/activities in North Yorkshire.
- Exclusively Inclusive, Craven district: Exclusively Inclusive is a facilitated friendship group that started to give two disabled people a sense of belonging and companionship, and has grown to 30-plus members in three years. There is a regular Friday afternoon get-together to put together the Craven Gazette and generally have fun, a monthly club night, 'come dine with me' events and trips and weekends away occasionally. The group has an allotment in Skipton, and sometimes meets in Settle. Members travel from across Craven.
- Oatlands Community Group, Harrogate: Oatlands Community Group has a monthly community café run by youth volunteers. This offers a safe, warm and friendly space for the community together and socialise on a regular basis. The café offers inter-generational interaction where skills can be shared - the friendship blanket knitters share their skills with younger volunteers and the younger volunteers are able to share their knowledge of IT and technology. Other activities include quiz nights, talent nights, collections of food and clothing, promoting Random Acts of Kindness and Wonderful Windows - where the community decorate and ‘light up’ their windows during winter evenings.
- Sessay Community First Responders: The team works on behalf of Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) to respond to 999 calls within a five-mile radius of Sessay. Members respond to medical emergencies often involving critically ill patients and treat the patient until an ambulance arrives. The team responded to 29 incidents over a year, including strokes, faints, seizures, heart attacks, asthma attacks, trauma incidents and general support to paramedics. They have supported YAS on the Tour de Yorkshire, helped to teach children the benefits of CPR and bought several public defibrillators.
- Sleights Area Men's Shed (SAMS): SAMS is about wellbeing and seeks to reduce isolation in men (and women). Activities are many and varied. The aim is distraction from individuals’ day-to-day circumstances through practical tasks, including wood turning, making a walking stick or a planter, building a model, carving or even playing dominos. It is a chance to be with other Shedders and to form new friendships. The group enables members to help one another with tasks and through conversation. It is a supportive family for people with different kinds and degrees of inclusion need. SAMS has been instrumental in starting Sheds in Whitby and Staithes.
- TEMPT (Tadcaster Events Management Project Team): Following the devastating flooding and bridge collapse of 2015/16, TEMPT was established to develop a calendar of events to contribute to reviving the town's economic fortunes and to provide opportunities for community cohesion. Since forming, it has organised the re-opening day celebrations in February 2017; the Tadcaster Cycle Festival in May 2017; the first Tadcaster Apple Day in October 2017; established an annual Heritage Day in February 2018, the first Tadcaster Arts Festival for July 2018 and is planning the first Tadcaster Soapbox Derby in June next year. The team is also planning a comic con.
- The Little White Bus: The Little White Bus is a community minibus service operating throughout the rural areas of Richmondshire. It has grown enormously since it started in 2011 and its 51 volunteer drivers provide seven bus services six to seven days a week. The Little White Bus offers a timetabled bus service as well as a demand-response service throughout the district to nearly all key towns and villages within Richmondshire. It offers the communities it serves, residents and visitors a chance to access services such as healthcare, employment, education, leisure and shopping.
Best community project – awarded to specific time-limited voluntary projects which were carried out in North Yorkshire between 31 July 2017 and 1 June 2018. The start and finish dates do not need to have been within these dates, but the project must have been active within these dates and have a specific start and end date rather than being open-ended.
- Great Ayton Discovery Centre (GADC): extension and expansion project: This project is a physical extension to the centre that will enable the organisation to expand their service provision, diversify their offer to the community and co-locate with the Tourist Information Centre. The extension to the north-east of the former Victorian school building is now in the process of being built after three years of development work by the GADC Board, in conjunction with partners. With the consultation highlighting that 60% of queries in the Library being tourism related, GADC opened discussions with the TIC about more formal partnership working arrangements.
- Ripon Museum Trust (RMT) Refurbishment Team: The Refurbishment Volunteer team at Ripon Museum Trust have transformed an abandoned, soulless building into a safe, engaging museum space where visitors can learn about and experience life in a Victorian workhouse. Following a Heritage Lottery Award in May 2017, RMT was able to buy the Sharow View workhouse site. The refurbishment team volunteers started work on the building in readiness for opening it to the general public for the main summer holidays in July 2017. This was RMT’s most ambitious project to date.
- Sleights Scout Hut Community Garden: Creating a community garden at the Sleights Scout Hut. Once complete, it will be used by Beavers and Cubs and the local community. With so much evidence about the physical and mental benefits of being outside, the idea of creating a space where children and the community can grow plants, vegetables and exercise was born. The project has been supported by a number of groups: Whitby Scout Group, Sirius Minerals, Whitby Shed Men’s Group and Volunteer it Yourself.
- “Take Our Words for It” project, run by parents for parents, Richmondshire: This was a project involving parents from civilian and military families who have faced severe adversity and painful life events. Taking part in creative writing workshops enabled them to express and share their thoughts and feelings about their experiences. Working with a creative writing tutor, taking part in weekly workshops, online tutorials and communication using a private group, they produced powerful writing and spoken word performances. They helped to design and produce a book, create a documentary video and host three celebration events, which showcased their work and the project.
Volunteer of the year – awarded to individual volunteers over the age of 25 carrying out voluntary activity/activities in North Yorkshire.
- Tim Kirkup: Tim is the volunteer chair of the Scarborough Dementia Action Alliance, as well as a local ambassador and representative of the Alzheimer's Society. He is also a side by side volunteer for the organisation and supports a young man with dementia go cycling weekly as well as a group of people with dementia to go swimming each week. He supports the local weekly Singing for the Brain group, and monthly Activity Cafes in Scarborough and Filey. Tim undertook every training opportunity, seeking out information and support for those with dementia. He began questioning Scarborough’s poor diagnosis rate, among other issues, and is challenging decision makers to make changes locally to benefit those affected by dementia. Tim is also a dementia champion and has created 1,845 Dementia Friends through delivery of 119 dementia awareness sessions all across the area and to a range of audiences. As a result, Scarborough is well on the way to becoming Dementia Friendly.
- Lisa O'Brien: Lisa organises events in and around Eastside Community Centre in Whitby. She is paid to work at the community centre for seven hours a week but puts in around 20 additional hours organising fundraising events, providing support to people in difficulties and undertaking a range of little jobs that go unnoticed. She regularly cooks the £1.50 lunch and once a month cooks the Memory Lane Lunch for older residents. If people on the estate are in trouble their first point of contact is Lisa.
- Helen Sykes: Since Helen retired she has been relentless with volunteering for or starting new community groups. Her enthusiasm and energy is contagious so encourages a wide range of people to contribute their skills to benefit the community. Helen was determined to revive the Galtres Fun Run following a four-year break and donate any money raised to Easingwold Community Library. She started and runs a parent and toddler croup called Poppets in the library every week. This also raises funds for the library (where she works as a volunteer each week). She drives the community minibus for EDCCA and helps with their car scheme, is chair of Easingwold Tennis Club, has an allotment and started a social gathering there for gardeners to meet each other and helps at Singing for All.
Young people volunteering award – awarded to individual volunteers aged 25 or under, or to groups or projects run by volunteers aged 25 or under, carrying out voluntary activity/activities in North Yorkshire.
- Cameron Osburn/Adversity United Football Club, Harrogate district: Cameron Osburn set up Adversity United, an inclusive football club where children are supported, encouraged, praised and guided. The club is for children aged six to 12 years who live with physical, behavioural, social and cerebral challenges. The club focuses on their enjoyment irrespective of their disability or age. Adversity United offers an opportunity for children with a range of disabilities to play a team sport. At present there are around 12 children who attend on a weekly basis with plans to open up a second session for teenagers.
- Hannah Ingham/The Talk Scheme, Craven: Hannah set up The Talk Scheme to encourage people to talk rather than plug into electronics. This could be on the bus, in a doctor’s waiting room or in a shop queue. From the rapid interest for the scheme, she has set up “talk groups” to get people together, listen to a speaker, get involved in activities and make new friends, She hasalso set up British Sign Language courses in Skipton...
- Josh Atkins/Catterick Garrison CLEAN up Crew: Josh, with help from his dad, set up the Catterick Garrison CLEAN up Crew on Facebook in April to tidy the area of litter to make it to cleaner and safer. The page had more than 200 followers in one week and more than 50 adults with children turned up for the first litter-pick, collecting more than 80 bags of rubbish. Every month there is a big clean-up, but in between if any litter is around he picks it up. Local schools and businesses are also now trying to do their part.
- SELFA Social, Craven: SELFA Social is a user-led project for young people aged between 11 and 19. It aims to reduce social isolation, develop life skills, foster friendship groups and increase independence, building confidence and raising self-esteem. Members volunteer and fundraise for activities that they want to take part in. The group decides on the activities and how to raise money for them. This group effort means everyone at SELFA Social can be offered a place on the outing regardless of the expense. The group currently has 50 young people that attend on a regular basis.