Volunteers from across the City of Westminster, including a six-year-old girl who used her own hair to make wigs for children with cancer, and a grandmother who works at a refuge for women and young children were recognised for their outstanding contribution to the community at the Westminster Community Awards last night.
Over 120 volunteers and members of local voluntary sector organisations joined Westminster City Council’s Deputy Leader Cllr David Harvey at the ceremony at Porchester Hall in Bayswater.
The winners this year are:
Inspirational Award: Ulviyya Taghizade
A publicity manager for Hallfield Homeschool Parents and Teachers Association, Ulviyya has been supporting Cancer Research for three years. She also volunteers as part of the Committee of Diplomatic Spouses Club London and the Hear Women GarGar Foundation. And, if that isn’t enough, she is the Founder of the Azerbaijani Women's Association! Ulviyya Taghizade said: “Though volunteering, I learn from people around me and become a better version of myself. Thank You Westminster for embracing me and my work.”
City for All Volunteer of the Year: Jacqui Haynes
During ten years as a church warden at St Peter’s Church in West London, Jacqui has run a Thursday Breakfast Club and Saturday Lunch Club for those who sleep rough or find it hard to socialise. On Mondays she also coordinates a homework club for 5-13 year olds at the Walterton and Elgin Community Homes Centre. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Jacqui was voted chair of the Lancaster West Residents Association and has been supporting residents ever since.
Young or Student Volunteer of the Year: Katie Kettle
Despite being just six years of age, Katie decided to cut off eight inches of her own hair to make wigs for children with cancer, simply because she wanted to “help children I don’t know.”
Outstanding Organisation: Migrants Resource Centre
This organisation has worked for over 30 years to help migrants, refugees and asylum seekers overcome social and cultural barriers to integrate into the local community. Their services are delivered by a wide range of skilled and dedicated volunteers who come from all over the world.
Corporate Contribution to the Community Award: Proximity London
Communications Consultancy Proximity London supports Pursuing Independent Paths, a small team that helps people with learning disabilities to gain greater independence. Using their passion and professional insight, they helped Pursuing Independent Paths to develop a working market stall for community fares and events, where students create and make healthy juices, learn core life and work skills and interact with the general public.
The Sir Simon Milton Award: Olivia Bristol
Olivia works with some of the most vulnerable women and children in the city. After receiving support from Hestia Westminster, our winner wanted to give something back to the service that had helped her through a challenging time in her life. Having grandchildren herself, she has taken on the role of a ‘grandmother’ at the refuge, sharing her passion for toys and their role in a child’s development, imagination and general well-being.
Neighbourhood Project of the Year: SouthWestFest
This community festival, held in Pimlico in June and July is described as having “something for everyone”, from poetry to teddy bear’s picnics, and celebrates the people, community and culture of south Westminster.
Cllr David Harvey, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Education and Community, said:
“Every nominee for these awards has made an outstanding contribution to their community, helping to make Westminster the great city that it is today. Nationally, volunteering is worth 24 billion pounds to the UK economy each year. On a personal and local level, it can build confidence, skills and stronger communities. It makes for new friendships and increase happiness. Today’s winners will inspire people throughout London that they too have something to offer and a valuable contribution to make”.
The Westminster Community Awards are organised by Westminster City Council in partnership with Groundwork London and One Westminster. Awards were presented by Jackie Rosenberg, Chief Executive of OneWestminster and Katrina Baker, Area Manager, Groundwork London.
Over 160 people submitted nominations for volunteers and organisations across the City of Westminster. Attendees heard performances from local contemporary singer Jessica Cherag-Zade and the Harmonious Choir.
The judging panel was: Cllr David Harvey, Julie Jones, Trustee, Sir Simon Milton Foundation; Jackie Rosenberg, Chief Executive, One Westminster; Ian Merrill, CEO, SPICE; Ben Coles, Director of Communities and Environmental Services for Groundwork London.
To support the work of the voluntary sector, Westminster City Council launched the MyWestminster Fund in January this year. The Fund supports projects aimed at encouraging community leadership, cohesion and pride your community, the environment and young people. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/mywestminster-fund