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Volunteers of the Year 2019

The Volunteer of the Year Awards 2019, sponsored by Doubletree by Hilton and Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, was presented by the Deputy Mayor at the Voluntary Action Islington AGM on 6th November.

Volunteer of the Year 26-60:

Charity Nyirenda, Positively UK

Islington’s Volunteer of the Year 2019 is Charity Suzyo Nyirenda for her peer support work for women living with HIV and her courage in being the face of many HIV stigma campaigns. She volunteers for Positively UK, who supports people living with HIV within Islington who access their services. Charity has lived in Islington for many years and is very active in the community.

She will always help people in whatever way she can. If she cannot, she will find someone that will be able to support her neighbours and in exchange for their volunteering, she will often bake one of her famous cakes! She is an inspirational woman and has given many hours in volunteer time to helping Islington BAMER women rebuild their lives and recover from domestic violence, fight for their rights as women and mothers, fill and understand the complex benefit and housing forms as well as giving other women the confidence to stand up for themselves.

Being a peer mentor means taking the brave step to support other people living with HIV by sharing lived experience. Charity has been doing this for many years, and many of her mentees have now progressed and volunteer with the organization as peer mentors themselves. Most recently Charity has been a pivotal volunteer in supporting the Catwalk 4 power. The catwalk 4 power, a public event, defying the stigma that women living with HIV can face every day. It is no exaggeration to say that Charity has inspired many women to strut down that stage and leave stigma behind.

The ripples of awareness that Charity has created go beyond much more than we can measure, much more than the individual women she supports. Her beautiful face has appeared on the billboards in Highbury and Islington, and Holloway train station platforms, sharing the revolutionary message of U=U, (that people living with HIV on successful treatment cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners) and #Cantpassiton. In this way Charity has helped combat the stigma and discrimination that is still prevalent in the borough, by being a visual example of how we can be strong, powerful, and proud, even when we are living with the virus.

Having these posters displayed in Islington has supported many people in the community to step up and offer their support, she has also encouraged others to become activists and join the campaign for access and awareness of PrEP for women. (PrEP is a medication that prevents the acquisition of HIV but is only accessed by a tiny number of women).

Commended: Djamila Aitammour (Centre404) and Sombo Dakowah (Copenhagen Youth Project)

Young Volunteer of the Year 16-25:

Sherrie Giraud, Mixed Martial Arts

Sherrie is an exceptional volunteer. Her organisation nominated her because of her excellent communication skills. She supports people with disabilities and Deaf/Blind people in mixed martial arts. Sherrie has proved her engagement skills to the highest level. She is a valued member of the team.

Commended: Wallis Hamilton Felton Age UK Islington

Older Volunteer of the Year 60+:

Wendy Barnes, HNG Stress Project

Wendy has volunteered for HNG Stress project for 12 years as a mental health champion and communications and PR officer. She brings a unique combination of her business skills, therapeutic skills and personal experience with disability and depression to her work for the charity.

Wendy is a superb ambassador and represents the charity at network meetings, this includes ICH where she organises well-being activities for Carer’s Week, The Finsbury Park Women’s network, where she contributes her business acumen in the fashion industry to encourage disadvantaged women to develop their own businesses and engage in training opportunities such as sewing and dressmaking. She is committed to breaking down stigma and discrimination around Mental health and repress the Stress Project at Islington’s Time to Change meetings.

She also organises and participates at events in partnership with Manor Gardens.  The Stress Project has benefited from Wendy’s skill, knowledge and the links she has developed with partnership organisations within the community.  Despite her own health issues, she has always supported the Stress Project on top of managing pain and disability. Commuting is becoming extremely difficult for her, she has done remarkably well over the years.  Her contribution is of great benefit to the charity and also to Wendy’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Commended: Dorothy Boswell & Joanie Speers (Gentle Dusk)  and Thomas Wu (Islington Chinese Association)

Volunteering Team of the Year:

Outpost: Volunteer Shop & Gallery Assistants at Peter Bedford Outpost Shop & Gallery is a social enterprise that supports the life-changing work of Peter Bedford Housing Association.

Thanks to this dedicated team of Volunteer Shop & Gallery Assistants, Outpost has been able to grow and thrive in a difficult economic climate. By sharing their time and expertise, volunteers also ensure the successful future of the enterprise by upskilling the rest of the team.

PBHA provides homes, support and creative and adult learning opportunities to adults in Hackney & Islington facing barriers to inclusion. Outpost plays a vital role in generating income, as well as raising the profile of PBHA among the local community and promoting opportunities to get involved in organisational activities.

The work they carry out has such a positive impact on so many people’s lives, by:

  • generating income to support the work of PBHA
  • promoting the socially excluded artists and makers they work with
  • raising PBHA’s profile within the local community to generate support
  • skill-sharing with the Outpost team
  • enriching the lives of staff, volunteers, visitors, and customers by challenging stigma

Commended: Autism Hub Islington Volunteers (ALAG) and Wellbeing 360 Team (Age UK Islington)

Pat Haynes Memorial Trustee of the Year:

Paul Formosa, Centre404

Paul is an extremely active trustee and volunteer both within Centre 404 and within the whole Islington borough. Paul has been a Vice-Chair and Secretary for Centre 404 since 2009 and has always been a reliable and vital member of the board.

He has also recently co-facilitated a male carer focus group initiative aimed at targeting male carers specifically, as often the focus is on female family carers. Paul’s openness to share his own experiences encouraged others to share theirs, in a comfortable and relaxed setting. The positive feedback received from attendees of the group was a real testament to Paul’s skills and nature as a volunteer.

Moreover, Paul is part of many community groups around Islington and a truly caring individual, who always makes the time to listen and be kind to anyone.

Commended: Sylvena Craig (African Caribbean Shining Star Enterprise)

Volunteers of the Year 2019 picture gallery

To find out more about volunteering in Islington email the Volunteer Centre or visit the Volunteering Section on the website. Phone: 020 7832 5800

You can also drop in at 200A Pentonville Road on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 4pm.

 

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