The winners of North Yorkshire County Council’s new community awards have been announced.
The awards, which recognise and celebrate voluntary work by individuals and organisations countywide, were presented at the North Yorkshire Wider Partnership Conference at The Pavilions, Harrogate, on Friday, 16 October.
In all, there were 114 nominations for the awards from a diverse range of community groups, organisations and individuals from across the county. From these nominations, three entrants were shortlisted in each of the four categories.
The judging panel, which included the County Council’s chairman and deputy chairman, young people and representatives from the voluntary and business sectors, was impressed by the quality of the nominees.
County Councillor David Jeffels, chairman of the County Council said:
Volunteers are becoming the backbone of an increasing number of aspects of life in North Yorkshire. These awards have emphasised what a wealth of skills and caring we have in the county and, even more importantly, the many people who are prepared to share those skills to the benefit of those less fortunate in our communities. Without the tens of thousands of hours the volunteers give, life for so many people would be so much poorer.
To assist where we can, we have established our Stronger Communities team to support the enthusiasm, determination and community spirit that enable such things as libraries, community car schemes, youth clubs and helping the lonely and isolated older people in North Yorkshire.
We cannot heap enough praise on these many hundreds of dedicated volunteers in our society and on behalf of the county I say a very big thank you to them all. These awards honour some of these people and organisations and I am sure that many of the nominated organisations could become exemplars to other communities.
The winners were:
Best community group
Osmotherley Community Group
The group tackles social isolation and loneliness in a rural community. It provides opportunities for social interaction between people of all ages, including young children and families, the elderly, recently bereaved, men living alone, those with recent health issues, and the housebound. Through its monthly coffee mornings and soup lunches, the group enables people from a variety of ages and backgrounds to come together. It also builds community links by setting up events that expand the local volunteer base and promote opportunities for volunteers to develop their skills. As well as tackling social isolation and loneliness, the group raises money for local and national charities.
Other shortlisted entrants were: Craven children’s comic collective Pink Fluffy Ketchup Covered Flower Ponies and the Parish of Hemingbrough Historical/Heritage Society.
Best community project
Corrina and Friends Homeless and Vulnerable Project
After nearly losing her home when her partner had cancer, Corrina set up the Corrina’s Homeless and Vulnerable Project to support residents who are forced to sleep rough or can’t afford food to feed their families. Corrina has opened Harrogate’s first non-profit pay-what-you-feel café, which operates like any other café, but uses food donated by businesses and the public and all proceeds go to the project. Every day at 5pm, the cafe opens to the homeless and vulnerable to take leftover meals or food. Between its opening on 1 May and the end of June, the cafe served 1,186 meals to the homeless and vulnerable. More than 35 volunteers now work in the café. The project also supplies furniture to local people in need who require items to furnish their home.
Other shortlisted entrants were: The Hovingham Village Market and Clapham Village Store/Clapham Community Shop Ltd
Volunteer of the year
After retiring from his post as a primary school head teacher, John read that learning a new musical instrument helps to ward off Alzheimer’s and memory loss and decided to learn to play the ukulele.
Eighteen months ago, in Ryedale, he initiated a Music in the Community project, aimed at all ages, with inclusion as its driving force. He now provides free ukulele tuition to a variety of groups in the Ryedale and Scarborough areas. These groups have gone on to perform in public, helping to raise thousands of pounds for charity and entertain many hundreds of people. John’s love of music and his enthusiasm have enriched the lives of a large number of people aged nine to 90.
Other shortlisted entrants were: Kevin Axelby of Ryedale and Ian Robinson of Richmondshire.
Young people volunteering
Easingwold School Youthy Peer Mentors
The peer mentors help other young people with many issues: the transition from primary to secondary school, confidence and self-esteem issues, family issues, socialisation, illness, sexuality and gender, equality, resilience, responsibility. The group are recognised as a support within school and are written into policies directly. The mentors do a lot of work around self-esteem and can signpost their mentees to other agencies when needed; because of their age and the trust built between them, they have much success in this area.
Other shortlisted entrants were: North Yorkshire Railway Junior Volunteers Group and Lucy Taylor of the Football Futures project at Skipton.
The winners each receive a prize of £1,000 for their project, group or a nominated local charity. All finalists receive a trophy and certificate.