Volunteers of the Year 2022

Nominations for the Islington Volunteer of the Year Awards 2023 are now closed. Good luck to all the nominees.
Book your space for the celebration here


The awards sponsored by DoubleTree by Hilton Angel Kings Cross and announced by the HW Mayor of Islington, Cllr Marian Spall, took place at the London Metropolitan University on the 2nd of November, 7-8pm after VAI’s AGM and VAI’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations.

Please see the awards’ introductory video here: Islington Volunteer of the Year Awards 2022 (video)

Older Volunteer of the Year 60+:

Winner: Molly McConville, the Sunday Club at St John’s Church
Molly has chaired the Sunday Club for OVER 40 YEARS!! Always on hand to distribute food, hot drinks, and soup from the crypt of St Johns Church to homeless people EVERY SINGLE Sunday WITHOUT FAIL for over four decades (hard to believe but true!).
She has been a committee member for a long time dealing with funding applications and is the main contact with Cripplegate Foundation and Islington Community Chest. She organises the rota, is in close touch with all the teams and a support to all.
This includes throughout the COVID pandemic when the crypt was closed but the support continued every Sunday without fail from the Church doorstep – with volunteers led, cajoled, and organised by the indefatigable Molly.
As she has recently handed over the mantle of Chair, now is a great time to recognise Molly’s contribution to supporting the most vulnerable in Islington. The Sunday Club under Molly’s leadership has provided a human element to homelessness, offering a safe space for people to just be, grab a snack and a coffee and read the Sunday papers just as any other person prefers to do on their Sundays. Simple, effective, and heartfelt.

Highly Commended: Ian Hamilton, London Friend
Ian is one of the longest standing volunteers and has been with London Friend since 2018. He always displays great empathy and the highest level of professionalism and accountability whilst providing a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.

Highly Commended: Michael Murray, Mencap – Islington Me Time
Michael started volunteering in the early days of the Islington Me Time project. He has been a valued member of the volunteer team, supporting community events and helping and supporting new volunteers to find their way and feel at home.

Volunteering Team of the Year:

Winner, Islington Bereavement Support Volunteers, St Joseph Hospice
The Islington Bereavement team of volunteers provide wonderful and compassionate support for bereaved Islington community members throughout the year,
both in person and remotely.
This has been particularly important for those bereaved during the pandemic with all the complexities this added to the experience of grief.
They are there every week, sitting with people in exceptional circumstances and helping them to re-engage through exercise classes, community groups and mental health services as well as volunteering and pursuing hobbies and interests that were not possible in the height of their grief.

Highly Commended: The Good Neighbours Scheme Volunteer Team, Help on Your Doorstep
A committed team of 15 volunteers who design, implement and monitor community activities and events such as coffee mornings, bingo, garden club, arts and crafts, children’s football, etc, across the three Islington based schemes.

Highly Commended: Outcome Volunteer Team, Islington Mind
This team runs the LGBTIQ+ day centre, facilitating the therapeutic drop-in space, co-running workshops, activities and classes whilst supporting the staff in the day to day running of the service including administrative and fundraising tasks.

Commended: COLA Islington, City Year
A great team of volunteer mentors supported students in 1:1 sessions focussing on goal setting in areas such as attitude to learning and towards staff, behaviour, attendance and social/emotional development.

Young Volunteer of the Year 16-25:

Winner: Edward Campbell, SoapBox Youth Centre
Edward joined SoapBox in October 2021 via Royal Mencap’s Supported Internships programme, which supports learning disabled young people aged 16-24 years old in their transition from adolescence into adulthood. Edward has a learning disability, visual impairment, epilepsy and was slightly introverted. As part of this programme, Edward had to complete a 300-hour volunteer placement and because of his great passion for music, he chose to do that at SoapBox:

He joined various SoapBox programmes as a participant but quickly moved into supporting his peers.
Edward helped at the SoapBox Music Production sessions supporting other young people to make music. At the start, he acted as a support worker as he became more confident and other young people started to recognise his abilities and his peers began to request that he led on supporting them.

He also supported staff to develop and co-create a 12-week mentoring support programme that SoapBox could use with other young people on placement or working as volunteers.

He led on the weekly Music Course for Autistic Young People, delivered to six Year 13 students. This was a high-quality piece of diversity and inclusion work. It is even more admirable given that Edward is a naturally shy and reserved individual, therefore the idea of him leading on a piece of group work evidences his constant desire to improve himself by taking on new challenges.

He could have elected to use this period just for himself, only taking part in training that enhanced his own skills and prospects.
Instead, he decided to not only improve his own abilities, but to use his skills, knowledge, and experiences to benefit others.

During his volunteering, Edward progressed significantly, developing new skills that he didn’t even realise that he was capable of. The improvements in his confidence, his communication, and his ability to lead on things have been dramatic. And this has resulted in him being employed by SoapBox as Music Software teacher, which is an amazing development from where Edward was at, only one year ago.

Highly Commended: Miriam Rubinstein, London Friend
Miriam is one of the most accountable, committed, and engaged volunteers at London Friend, supported Changes, the social and support group for lesbian and bisexual women, as well as Opening Doors, which is a social group for elderly LGBT people.

Commended: Maria Antoniou, City Year
Maria has changed the lives of so many young people by providing vital in-lesson support to low-ability Year 11 students.
She has supported students who were at risk or exclusion, were involved in anti-social behaviour and were at risk of not completing their education.

Commended: Salina Biniam, Disability Action in Islington
Salina has helped and improved the life of the disabled & vulnerable residents with their utility disputes, benefits, PIP applications, benefit appeals, housing enquiries, blue badges, Taxi card applications, medical issues and much more.

Pat Haynes Memorial Trustee of the Year:

Winner: Guilene Marco, Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation (MEWSo)
Guilene joined the trustee board in 2020 and was recently elected as the new Chair of MEWSo.
Her desire to join MEWSo stems from the fact that she has always been keen to empower vulnerable women, enabling them to become stronger and more independent.
She campaigned in the last 10 years to make sure that no woman is turned away from refuge, and for London to become a sanctuary city for migrant women with no recourse to public funds.
As a Chair, she makes every trustee feel confident and safe enough to share her views, believing that each board member is there for a reason and has considerable knowledge and expertise to give.
In addition to preparing and attending monthly Board meetings, Guilene volunteers up to three hours per week acting as a chair for the ‘Policy & Governance’ sub-committee.
Her dedication, enthusiasm, and passion set an example to the rest of the board at MEWSo.

Commended: Andrew Duncan, Angel Shed Theatre
Andrew, as a Chair, was very dedicated in ensuring that Angel Shed Theatre was sustainable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
He supported the theatre through incredible fundraising efforts, so that the organisation was able to provide art services to young people across the borough.

Volunteer of the Year 26-60:

Winner: David Batchelor, Help on Your Doorstep
David has come on such an amazing journey with The Good Neighbour Project, Help on Your Doorstep.
David stayed home isolated for some years! He was encouraged to attend one of the Help on Your Doorstep coffee mornings. He was a bit shy at the beginning but as time went by David started to relax and the journey started.
When lockdown came, he joined the zoom and phone call activities and as we came out of lockdown David asked if he could come out leafleting and outreach getting the weekly Good Neighbours timetable out to the Canonbury area. Such a dedication, he was always early!
David then started to volunteer at the coffee mornings! making all the drinks cleaning talking a bit more to the users – knowing exactly what drinks people have! what a transformation, it gets better!
David then started to help with setting up and leading community events volunteering at the actual events and helping other volunteers!
David then started to cover annual leave at another Good Neighbour Project, Kings Cross, and went on to outreaching and volunteering at the Bemerton (Cally), with the group users loving his drinks and dry sense of humour, it was the biggest change seen in a person- helping others was helping him! Service users only wanting David to make their tea & coffee, confidence building!
David has made such an impact across the board! With the staff and our community members! Help on Your Doorstep has reached so many more Islington residents due to his hard work!

Commended: Lawrence Curtis, Healthy Minds Healthy Bodies
Lawrence goes to endless trouble to involve older and isolated members of the community in various activities including physical exercises and social events. During the COVID-19 restrictions, he organised daily walks or physical exercise, and most astonishingly created a 26-page weekly health pack, a fantastic resource.

Commended: Natalia Kuzmina, HealthProm
Natalia has run free ESOL classes for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in Islington as a volunteer for more than two years now.
Starting with one class per week, she now runs 5 classes a week, both online and offline. She is now coordinating a team of other ESOL volunteers.

Commended: Vincent Baxter, Elizabeth House – Highbury Vale Blackstock Trust
Vincent began volunteering at the food hub during the first lockdown and he has remained as one of the most regular and reliable volunteers since,
having packed 1000s of bags over the last 2 and a half years.
He has directly helped the hundreds of residents supported over the past few years, many of whom relied heavily on hub food parcels, especially during a period when they were unable to leave their house or access enough food.

Volunteers of the Year 2022 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

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