At this year’s AGM we wanted to recognise the incredible individual efforts made by our volunteers, and the impact they make every day up and down the UK. We developed a new set of Volunteer Awards to cover the full range of our work – working with and for families, younger people, older people, disabled people as well as our Employee Volunteering remit. We also had a few extra categories to celebrate some special anniversaries!

Special Volunteer Organiser of the Year (marking the 30th anniversary of the RSVP Programme) – Ray and Delor Rogers

This dedicated husband and wife team from Wales have collectively given RSVP 43 years service between them! They have been pivotal in recruiting and supporting thousands of volunteers in Welsh communities over many years.

As well as recruitment, they do so much for the RSVP Programme including leading regional organizer meetings, administering local finances, managing the central membership system and volunteer expenses for all RSVP Wales – the list goes on. RSVP Wales is a great model of good practice in volunteer organising and that is in great part due to the hard work and dedication of this pair.

 

Older Volunteer of the Year (marking the 30th anniversary of the RSVP Programme) – Rosemary Fletcher

Rosemary is from Stirling, Scotland and after retiring from the NHS decided to volunteer with RSVP Forth Valley. Given her NHS background she was asked to help out at the NHS Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert. The work of the hospital project is mainly to provide help and comfort to patients but to also keep family and friends informed while their loved ones are under treatment. This relieves some of the hard pressed staff to allow them to concentrate on patient care.

Rosemary then became the organiser for all the RSVP volunteers in Forth Valley Royal Hospital and has developed new projects within the hospital. Thanks to her enthusiasm, commitment and drive the RSVP Hospital Projects have developed enormously – with now over 80 volunteers assisting in various departments.

Young Volunteer of the Year – James Matthews

James originally came to Volunteering Matters though our Activ8 project looking for some volunteering to build his skills and confidence (Activ8 is a peer-led project that supports young people to develop skills, confidence and knowledge to help them progress into volunteering, education, employment or training).

He currently volunteers on the Sexual Awareness for Everyone  (SAFE) Male project based in the Gwent area of South Wales. SAFE is a peer led project that aims to help young men with learning disabilities and autism aged 16-25 become more aware of safe relationships and sexual health. Since being a volunteer on the SAFE project, James has built his confidence and communication skills, and now helps to peer present workshops to others to help build their knowledge around safer relationships and sexual health.

The member of staff who nominated him has been hugely impressed by this winner and nominated him not only for the huge contribution and volunteering efforts that he makes to the SAFE project, but also because of the massive improvements and progress he has personally made since starting volunteering in terms of confidence, communication and resilience.

 

Disabled Volunteer of the Year – Nicola Taylor

Nicola is from Cwmbran, and has also been volunteering for the SAFE project since October 2017. She has been involved since the start of the project and instrumental in designing and developing the resources, ensuring they are fully inclusive and fit for purpose for those with disabilities. Nicola spends time in the office, carrying out research on her own to develop into activities for the workshops. She co facilitates workshops and helps the group and individuals if they have any concerns or anxieties.

She shares her personal experiences, which is so important from a peer support perspective, she speaks up for others and has taken part in a video about the rights of disabled people, helping to reduce the stigma of society’s view of disabled people and their sexuality. She also helped at a presentation we gave at a learning event for mental health services across Gwent, giving around 60 people  a taster session of what we deliver to participants – she delivered the ‘What is sex’ activity, and the audience loved it! She loves helping others, and really enjoys the social aspect of the groups and being part of a volunteer team. She is an inspirational role model for her peers and ambassador for the project.

 

Family Volunteer of the Year – Sue Mills

Sue is from the East of England, has volunteered with our Volunteers Supporting Families (VSF)  Project in Southend on Sea since 2010. VSF in Southend has been running since 2009 and is supported by Southend Borough Council. The project recruits, trains and matches volunteers to mentor and support families with children at risk of neglect or harm.  Since 2010, this winner has successfully supported 8 families, and was described by her latest family as ‘a Godsend’ She has been nominated not only due to the massive positive impact she has made to the lives of the families that she has and does support, but because of her unfaltering commitment and her extreme reliability and never once letting her families down in the 8 years she have been a volunteer.

 

 

Grandmentor of the Year – Pat Grant

Grandmentors is an innovative volunteering project where older volunteers use their lifetime of skills and experience to support and mentor vulnerable young people leaving the care system. These young people who are out of employment, education or training (NEET) often need a guiding hand and role model to support them to find work, continue their education or begin training – ultimately giving them the skills and self-belief to lead successful and independent lives. Grandmentors Islington has been running since 2009. Pat has a background as a teacher and counselor and has been an Islington Grandmentor since 2014. She was nominated due to her commitment and dedication to being a Grandmentor but also due to the extra mile she has gone in providing support to her current mentee who has extremely complex needs.

Full Time Volunteer of the Year – Diana Carolina Virgüez Torres

Our FTV Programme is an incredible opportunity for people aged between 18 and 35 to undertake a life-changing challenge, living

away from home for up to 12 months while supporting some of the most vulnerable or marginalised people and communities across the UK. Diana is from Colombia, and joined as a Full-Time Volunteer in January this year, on a 12 month placement though our partnership with International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) Colombia, taking a placement in West Yorkshire as a volunteer personal assistant to a young disabled person – Nadia Clarke. Nadia and her parents in fact wrote the nomination in which Nadia says:

I would like to nominate this winner because she is a very special volunteer who has had a profound impact on my life. She arrived at a hard time for me and has helped me shape my future. She understood the importance of supporting my emotional development; I have always felt safe with her. I think of her  as a sister: she always looks out for me; she has helped me be assertive and has built up my confidence and self-esteem. 

 

 

Employee Volunteering Programme of the Year – QBE

The QBE Foundation has worked with the Employee Volunteering team at Volunteering Matters to deliver and manage their team volunteering Community Action Day (CAD) programme for UK-based QBE employees since 2014.  This year, the target was for approximately 500 QBE employees to participate in the programme across eight office locations. Together we will in fact have have supported well over 700 QBE employees to volunteer in 2018 –  a fantastic number and we want  to recognise QBE for their support and the impact they have made.