Volunteers of the Year 2017

Volunteer of the Year Awards 2018 Awards celebration tonight 7th November!

The Volunteer of the Year Awards, sponsored by Doubletree by Hilton and Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, were presented by the Mayor and the Young Mayor at the Voluntary Action Islington AGM on 1st November.

Volunteer of the Year 26-60

Mathew Smith, Family Action’s mentoring service, Friendship Works
Mat has dedicated five years to volunteering with Friendship works (FW). FW’s mentors make a huge commitment to support a young person for two years, and although many of the friendships last beyond that point, it is unusual for a mentor to commit to support a second child after completing the full two years, as Mat has done.
He has been mentoring Islington resident Leroy* for three years. Leroy was eleven when he was referred to FW by his mother, who struggles with mental health issues. She recognised that her difficulties meant that Leroy had taken on a lot of caring responsibilities in the home.  This, together with the fact that it was hard for her to take him out of the house, had led to Leroy becoming very isolated.  She asked for a male mentor for Leroy as he had no positive male role models in his life at that time.
Mat’s biggest contribution is the huge difference his consistent presence has made to Leroy. Thanks to that and Mat’s encouragement, Leroy has grown from the shy, withdrawn eleven year old boy first referred to Friendship Works, into a confident fourteen year old. He has been able to develop a number of quality friendships at school and has become popular and respected by a wide range of peers, and with Mat’s support has become more engaged in positive activities in and outside of school.

*name has been changed to protect child’s identity

Young Volunteer of the Year 16-25

Ashli Flemming, Mary’s Youth Club
Ashli has been attending Mary’s Youth Club (MYC) for nearly a year, and has taken part in many various activities from MYC socials, to football sessions and cooking. In April 2017 Ashli stepped into a Youth Volunteer position assisting weekly at the Club’s Welcome Desk contributing over 50 hours to MYC to date. He ensures that all guests to the centre are greeted with a warm welcome, provide members with a brief overview ot the activities, set up and take down of programme materials, answers any questions or queries guests may have, and ensures that everyone has a safe and fun time at the Youth Club.
Volunteering has made a positive impact on Ashli’s personal development. Ashli comes to each volunteering shift with a “can-do” attitude, eager to take on any task given and to learn from other staff and volunteer. His level of engagement and social interaction with other youth and members of public has drastically improved.
He is now really enthusiastic about volunteering and looking for other charities in need of support. Ashli can now also be found supporting his local Sue Ryder charity shop, where he spends his time sorting, pricing and merchandaising good to help to raise funds. Just entering a special education needs and disabilities sixth form this autumn, Ashli is looking forward to apply his enhanced and new found skills through volunteering to his studies, and continue giving back to his community through volunteering.


Older Volunteer of the Year 60+

Willie Donnelly, ScotsCare
Following his retirement from the building trade, Willie initially started volunteering for ScotsCare as a helpline assistant back in June 2009. Shortly afterwards, when the charity established its Blether Buddy service, Willie soon became involved as a telephone befriender and has since, regularly spoken to around 12 isolated older clients each week. In addition to his weekly commitment to these clients, he has regularly helped at social events, monthly lunches and outings for the over 50’s,  with family days out and even joined a team of staff and volunteers which accompanied a group of disadvantaged 9 to 12 year olds on a 5-day activity break.
He is an extraordinarily committed volunteer, if he knows his buddy is going to be alone on Christmas Day, he always takes time to give them a call, which, last year, brought one elderly gentleman to tears.
One of his buddies Brian, says “there was a period where I was finding it hard to cope with health matters, my telephone buddy made it much easier.  Befriending is an art and he has this in abundance, thank you Willie, thank you very much”.  And, as John, whom he has spoken to since the service began, says “My befriender deserves a gold medal, he always cheers me up.  He is so important to me, I always look forward to Thursdays”.

Pat Haynes Memorial Trustee of the Year

Sandra Davis, York Way Estate Community Centre
Sandra has lived on the York Way Estate in Islington for most of her life.  She is the committee chair of the community centre and has volunteered in this role for many years. The centre is at the heart of this community and Sandra has ensured that the services offered in the centre address the needs of the residents. She has made links with women who have struggled with social isolation due to cultural differences and recently started a women’s only exercise group which has encouraged many women in the local community to get together and participate.
She is also keen to review what’s on offer and make sure that there are activities which involve children, young people and adults.
She also organises trips for groups in the community who would otherwise be unable to leave the city and is the regular contact for anyone wanting to start a group or use the centre.  She is always available to meet with residents and the Council about matter which concern the community and as a volunteer she is a great example to us all.
She is a familiar face on the housing estate and it’s impossible to go out with her without someone coming up to chat or greet her.  She has a unique understanding of the community in which she lives and champions for funding and improvements whenever possible.

Volunteering Team of the Year

LAWRS’ Volunteer Team, LAWRS
Latin American Women’s Rights Service is a user-led, feminist and human rights organisation focused on addressing the practical and strategic needs of Latin American migrant women displaced by poverty and violence. Latin Americans are one of the fastest growing ethnic minorities in the UK, but despite this they remain invisible. Our service users experience significant disadvantage as migrants, as women, and as members of an invisible minority ethnic group in this country.
Founded in 1983, LAWRS’ mission is to “to provide Latin American migrant women with tools to assert our rights, and pursue personal empowerment and social change”. They directly support more than 5,000 women annually through culturally and linguistically specialist advice, information, counselling and psychotherapy, advocacy, development programmes, and workshops. LAWRS is an Islington based registered charity that addresses practical gender needs through holistic, quality assured, and women-centred frontline services. LAWRS’ volunteer project adheres to a policy of inclusiveness, embracing diversity and equal opportunities above all.

Employee of the Year

Laura McCarthy Cronin, Macquarie Bank
Laura is associate Director (Senior Vice President at Macquarie Bank). She is one of best and strong client commitment and client focused in her area of work. Laura is very enthusiastic, self-motivated and enjoy working in a fast paced, dynamic environment.
A team of professional volunteers from Big Alliance are working with Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation from October 2016 until now. The team works on a range of activities with director and other team of volunteers of MEWSo. Laura is a group leader for the team which she managed perfectly to encourage working professionally and enthusiastically to reach the goal of year. As a group leader she always make sure the team are all aware of what they are doing, when is the deadline of work, make sure the director of MEWSo are fully supported during the year. Laura with other colleague of the team manged to provide Business plan of the year, reviewing the policy documents, liaising with a range of funders and companies and ask for grant and donation. Laura and her colleagues of the team have arranged for a seminar ‘Women and displacement’ at Macquarie Bank venue. It was very well organised which 40 people attended the event.
Laura were determined to ask for donation and raise money for MEWSo. As a moderate for the seminar she encouraged and inspired the audience and the funders to support MEWSo.  One of the funders was inspired by organising and the work MEWSO is doing for more than 1000 women per year by offering MEWSo £10000.

Volunteers of the Year 2017 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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