The scope of volunteering in North Yorkshire was celebrated today (Friday, 25 October) with the presentation of North Yorkshire County Council’s annual community awards.
The awards, now in their fifth year, celebrate and showcase voluntary work by individuals and organisations that make their neighbourhoods better places to live.
The judges, including representatives of the County Council, volunteer organisations and young people, was impressed by the quality of the nominees. This year, there were 55 nominations for 41 groups and individuals. The winners were announced at the North Yorkshire Wider Partnership Conference at The Pavilions, Harrogate.
County Council Chair Councillor Jim Clark, who co-presented the awards, said: “It is a privilege to be able to say thank you with these awards to some of the thousands of volunteers across North Yorkshire who give their time and skills so generously to help others. I’d like to extend that thanks to every volunteer in North Yorkshire who gives their time so freely. Without the tens of thousands of hours of support they give each year, life in North Yorkshire would be poorer for many people.”
Tony Jameson-Allen, co-founder of the Sporting Memories Foundation, which won the best community group award, said: “Winning the award is absolute testament to the volunteers that run it. There are five who have been running the club week in week out, making sure that everyone gets everything they possibly can from the sessions. This prize money will help us to continue to support the volunteers, but also buy some more equipment for the club and hopefully have a celebration event as well.”
Guest speaker the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, said: “We are celebrating a really important group of people, our volunteers. I work in the life of the Church and we are connected into all sorts of communities, and that word, connection, is a really important theme in this conference. It is the volunteers that enable some of those connections to happen and come to life, so it is great to be here to celebrate their work.”
Kim Leadbeater, an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation, spoke at last year’s awards ceremony and returned this year to present the awards.
She said: “I am delighted to be in Harrogate for the second year where I have the honour of presenting the community awards for North Yorkshire. It is a very special event, because it really recognises people in communities across the county who are doing amazing work day in and day out to bring people together and to make a difference, so it is an absolute honour to be here.”
The winner of each category receives £1,000 for the project, group or nominated relevant local charity in the case of the individual awards. Two runners-up in each category receive £250.
The winners are:
Best community project
The SMILE project, Skipton: Since January, SELFA has been working with different care homes on its SMILE project. The inspiration was a Channel 4 documentary, Old People’s Home for Four-Year-Olds, an intergenerational experiment designed to tackle the increasing problem of loneliness and isolation among older people. SELFA’s ambition is that friendship between the two generations will blossom and the children will learn to appreciate the elderly members of the community. From baking to movie nights and craft session to trips out, each session is different but enjoyed by all.
Runners-up: Mosaics for Schools; Weaponness Window
Best community group
Sporting Memories Foundation, Topcliffe: The foundation provides sporting reminiscence, cognitively stimulating games and physical activity facilitated by trained volunteers. The therapeutic activities can help to trigger memories to reinforce identity, connect people and improve personal confidence and mental wellbeing. The inclusive sports include indoor curling, boccia and activities to support strength and balance. The club also provides networking opportunities, signposting and respite for families and carers.
Runners-up: Grassington Hub; Parents of Special Children, Hambleton/Richmondshire. Highly commended: Tadcaster Swimming Pool Trust Volunteers
Volunteer of the year
Natalie Davies: Natalie is the volunteer Commanding Officer for Scarborough Sea Cadets. Running a centre with more than 100 cadets from disadvantaged families, they offer a wide range of largely free activities, including sailing, windsurfing, rowing, navigation, engineering, first aid, music and catering. Natalie can put in up to 40 hours a week to take the young people on the water, help them to take apart an engine or teach them first aid. The activities are heavily subsidised, enabling young people from low-income families or single-parent families to take part.
Runners-up: Emily Towers; Glennis Hobbs. Highly commended: Linda Moore
Young people volunteering award
Amirah Stones: Six-year-old Amirah is the youngest volunteer who helped to organise a community Christmas dinner in Northallerton. Each month, her chosen day out is to go to York taking gifts for the homeless and, more importantly, to speak to them. She saved her pocket money and spent it in charity shops buying sleeping bags, hats, gloves and socks for the second year in a row to take to York on Christmas Eve and give out around the centre.
Runners-up: Oliver Webster; Young People’s Council
Further information on the runners-up in each category:
Best community project runners-up
Weaponness Window, Scarborough: The newly installed Weaponness Window is a large-scale glass tile mosaic situated on a concrete plinth partially occupied by a mysteriously unnamed sculpture by an unnamed artist but locally known as the legendary Seadragon. The Window is an arts and heritage project that complements the Scarborough Trails, Discoveries on your Doorstep, and Pathways to Health initiatives designed to encourage health and wellbeing. The mosaic was commissioned by the Weaponness Valley Community Group, offering the community and local groups input into the design and the opportunity to take part in weekly workshops with a professional ceramics artist.
Mosaics for Schools project, Harrogate: Artizan International, a Harrogate-based charity, has been delivering the project. The charity has trained a number of people with disabilities in mosaics, to a high degree of competency. Artizan has then worked with local primary schools to bring those they have trained into the schools to teach mosaic skills to the pupils. The pupils and differently-able artisans then create a large scale mosaic for the school.
Best community group runners-up
Grassington Hub: Along with the community library, the hub offers residents and visitors support, information, office services or just a place to have a chat. Their work includes supporting local groups with an events box office, press liaison, providing meeting space, managing the village website, organising community events and administering a volunteer transport scheme. They host open access wellbeing activities, community lunches, book clubs and storytelling to pre-school children. Initiatives for 2019 include men’s shed, older people’s tea parties and a wellbeing café.
Parents of Special Children, Hambleton/Richmondshire: Members provide support to parents, carers and grandparents of children with additional needs, with or without a diagnosis. They run parent support groups, workshops and training sessions, as well as events to give carers a much-needed break. They also provide individual support, including weekly one-to-one sessions, home visits and telephone, text or email support. The group is parent-led and voluntary.
Highly commended: Tadcaster Swimming Pool Trust Volunteers: The Trust relies on the good will of volunteers to assist in the day-to-day running of the swimming pool and fitness suite. Their trained volunteers carry out a variety of roles, including lifeguards, receptionists, cleaners, maintenance, gardeners, bookkeepers, plumbers, electricians and fundraisers. Front of house receptionists receive training, and maintenance people help to keep costs of repair down by performing tasks such as locker repair, replacing light bulbs and grouting.
Volunteer of the year runners-up
Glennis Hobbs: Glennis volunteers with Smiley Faces (Embsay mum and toddler group), Hetton and Rylstone Babes (mum and toddler group) and runs Hot Chocolate Club (youth club for seven to 11-year-olds in Embsay). She has been involved in running a holiday club/activity week for young people and supports the elderly. She visits the most vulnerable people living alone and is a volunteer at Embsay-with-Eastby Community Library. She also plays a leading role in Street Angels in Skipton and is a steward in the Methodist Church.
Emily Towers: Emily has acted as Colburn Youth Projects chair and treasurer since it was launched just over three years ago. This enabled the project to start at a time when anti-social behaviour was increasing in Colburn. Emily now oversees self-employed youth workers, who run youth sessions with extra projects and events being organised. Other responsibilities include assisting with applying/presenting to gain funding to keep the project running, paying the staff and keeping professional accounts for successful grants received.
Highly commended: Linda Moore: Linda volunteers at Kirkby Malzeard Youth Club where she helps with activity planning, runs games and activities, engages with parents and carers, prepares refreshments and supports her peers. She also volunteers with Ripon Museums, Fountains Abbey (The National Trust) and St Michael's Hospice. She helps with educational visits at Fountains Abbey, dresses up and gets into a character at the Workhouse Museum in Ripon and visits terminally sick patients and their families at the hospice.
Young people volunteering award runners-up
Oliver Webster: Oliver, 16, is a South Craven School pupil who for the last three years has volunteered with Exclusively Inclusive. He volunteers as a DJ at the monthly club night, Club ViVA 52, at Herriot's Hotel in Skipton. He has worked on the community allotment by renovating an area which has become known as the Chicken Palace, and other areas. He has set up equipment for presentations, been on hand to problem-solve when things haven’t gone according to plan, taken a lead in delivering presentations showcasing the work of Exclusively Inclusive and helped with the production of the Craven Gazette as well as contributing articles.
Young People’s Council: The YPC gives a voice for care-experienced young people in North Yorkshire. They meet senior managers and decision makers to discuss what improvements need to be made and contributed towards the development of a new looked-after children’s strategy. Last year, the group ran a campaign to raise awareness of youth homelessness across the country by inviting more than 30 young people to sleep under the stars and make beds out of cardboard boxes. The YPC has created a film that is used to reassure young people coming into care and tells them what to expect.