Over a million people in Wales help their communities and each
other in all sorts of remarkable ways. And since 2004 the Wales
Volunteer of the Year Awards has been shining the spotlight on
these incredible people.
There are six categories:
- adult (25 years and over)
- young volunteer (under 25 years)
- 'green' volunteer (individual of any age who volunteers with an
environmental organisation or project)
- groups (two or more individuals, whether as an informal group
or a formally constituted organisation)
- international (for individuals who have volunteered with
international partners/organisations in Wales)
The awards are currently closed for nominations, but will return
Winners of the Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards 2016
You can find details of
the amazing and inspiring winners of the 2016 awards below
organised by category. Winners were presented with their awards at
a heart warming ceremony, hosted by BBC presenter Sian Lloyd, which
took place in Cardiff Castle.
Rather than putting her
feet up, former neonatal nurse Sue Osman has spent her retirement
helping families of children with disabilities to benefit from her
The 72-year-old from Gwent volunteers at the city's Serennu
Children's Centre for the Sparkle Appeal, which provides leisure,
play and support services for disabled children and their
'Families at the early stage of diagnosis are often scared,
shocked and overwhelmed by the news that their child may have a
life-long disability,' said Clinical Psychologist at the Sparkle
Appeal Sarah Brown.
'Sue helps to normalise this for parents, and supports them to
explore their fears and concerns in the safety of a warm and
positive relationship. Her experience as a nurse at the Royal Gwent
Hospital for many years helps her to connect with families and help
them make sense of their experiences so far.
'It has been such a privilege to work alongside her - she is an
inspiration to all of us,' Sarah added. 'From her welcoming smile
when she is meeting families at the Serennu reception, to the
support she gives to parents at the early stage of diagnosis, she
makes a difference to the families here every step of the way.'
Sue said that since she started volunteering at Serennu she has
been very aware of the joys and rewards that being a volunteer can
bring. 'I love all aspects of my different roles, the fact that
everyone is so appreciative makes the job more worthwhile. To
receive this award is absolutely amazing. I feel very humbled and
honoured. Thank you.'
At 90-years-old, Beryl
Bennett is still opening up the Red Cross shop at Singleton
Hospital, Swansea three days a week, receiving a weekly early
morning stock delivery, marking up prices and buying any missing
items from alternative suppliers.
She returns at the weekend to do a thorough stock check, helping
to organise the shop and stock room and placing an order for the
next delivery, all while 'cheerfully and compassionately' serving
patients, visitors and staff.
Beryl, of Swansea, joined the Red Cross in 1990 and has been an
'exemplary volunteer, going out of her way to provide the best
support to the patients and staff at the hospital and retail shop
in Swansea,' said nominator Nikki Mather, Service Co-ordinator.
In 2014 alone, she gave over 360 hours to the hospital and took
an active role in fundraising activities.
'After more than 25 years of impeccable service, Beryl has not
faltered in her commitment to the Red Cross but instead fulfils her
role to such a high standard that the shop volunteers hold her in
the highest esteem,' Nikki added.
'She is seen as a sort of hero by her fellow volunteers and is
treated with a great deal of respect and affection. Within the
current Singleton team of over 60 volunteers, Beryl Bennett has
undoubtedly made the biggest impact on the Red Cross services in
Beryl said that she was delighted to be nominated and receive an
award for her volunteer work. 'I very much enjoy my work with
British Red Cross at Singleton Hospital and I am very grateful for
the support of my fellow volunteers and BRC staff.'
Single mum Marie Williams has transformed her
experience of difficulties into expertise she uses to help others
in the same situation.
Marie, 32, of Riverside in Cardiff, volunteers with the Creating
Connections self-management project for single parents, a Mental
Health Foundation programme supporting lone parents to develop
skills, strategies and networks for maintaining their mental health
'We believe that people have a lot to contribute to managing
their mental health and Marie has transformed her experiences into
expertise that she uses to help herself and others,' said Jackie
Fisher, from the Mental Health Foundation. 'She is an inspiration
to other parents because she can truly empathise with their
'Due to her modesty, Marie often underestimates the role model
she provides to others. She manages to fit all her volunteering
into a busy life, caring for her son alone, applying for jobs and
volunteering for other organisations.'
Marie said she felt very honoured to be receiving the award. 'It
has been a great pleasure, and an amazing experience, to volunteer
on the Creating Connections project.
'This past year and a half has been a wonderful opportunity to
make a difference and be able to support other single parents, and
be part of a fantastic team of people, who are all passionate about
supporting single parents to break down isolation, build confidence
and establish friendships with others in their communities who have
Ceriann Goddard was the driving force behind the
reopening of a twice-weekly Cardiff lunch club that is a 'social
lifeline' for elderly and vulnerable local people, marshalling
other volunteers to help turn it into a hub for community
Ceriann took over running the Wyndham Street Diner in Riverside
when it closed in 2014 after funding was cut. She brought people
together to decorate the centre, run training to equip volunteers
with the skills to carry out their roles and encouraged the use of
the diner by local groups.
'The aim of the lunch club is to provide a safe and welcoming
place to have a low-price, balanced and freshly prepared meal,'
said Kathryn Williams from Cadwyn Housing Association.
'However, more than just food, it's a place for people of all
ages to meet up and chat, to break down barriers of isolation and
loneliness. It had been a social lifeline for lots of elderly or
vulnerable local residents for whom it was a reason to get out of
'Ceriann always seeks to ensure those that want to be involved
can and provides an open door for whoever needs it and she
understands that for some the journey can take a long time and be
more difficult than for others.
'She is also always the first person to stand up and talk about
the difficulties she has herself faced so that others can know that
they are not alone and hopefully can use her story as inspiration
and encouragement to know that there is light at the end of the
tunnel if they need it.'
Ceriann said: 'My recovery has always involved taking part in
volunteering. The Diner project is the most enjoyable and close to
my heart yet. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.
'Volunteering is not me just giving of myself, it gives back to
me. I have support, empathy, understanding, purpose, friends, a new
social life, confidence, self-esteem, pride, new skills, fun,
laughter and so much more.
'I've also had headaches, blisters, sore feet and exhaustion, but
the sense of achievement that comes with working so hard is worth
it. Volunteering means the world to me and I am so grateful for the
opportunities it has given me.'
Imogen Peach-Mason 'should be a role model for all
young people thinking about volunteering', according to Fred Weston
from Monmouth's Building Bridges Community Centre.
The teenager from Monmouth volunteers at Caerwent Inclusive
Youth Club, working intensively with young people with complex
needs to help integrate them into the group. To meet their needs,
she is learning sign language and Makaton - a
using signs and symbols to
help people to communicate.
'Imogen spends hours upon hours in her own time researching ways
of working with young people with disabilities and creating plans
and resources to make her work more effective,' said Fred. 'This is
far above and beyond anything we would expect of a volunteer - and
especially for someone of her age.
'Imogen commits 110% to her volunteering work and displays all
of the qualities and more than you would expect from a superb payed
worker. She will make a fantastic member of staff for any team when
she enters the labour market.
'She is a real ambassador for the commitment, competence and
willingness that young volunteers have to offer, and should have
the opportunity for her efforts to be recognised and celebrated.
She should be a role model for all young people who are thinking
Imogen said: 'I am overwhelmed and extremely grateful that my
voluntary work in the community has been recognised. I would like
to thank Lucy Rooks and Fred Weston for their support and
'I have realised that helping vulnerable people has not only
made a difference to their lives but also to my own, in terms of
developing my self-esteem and confidence.
Since I have been volunteering, I now feel that this is a career
path I would like to follow. I would just like to express again my
gratitude for this amazing opportunity.'
Ryan Anthony Crewe-Rees
A Level student Ryan Anthony Crewe-Rees is helping
young people across four South Wales counties to be more aware of
issues around their sexuality and potential exploitation.
The 18-year-old from Varteg, Pontypool has also helped develop a
youth-led LGBT group in the Torfaen area, where there was
previously no known LGBT provision for the young people who wanted
Ryan is a volunteer on the Sex Matters Too project at
Volunteering Matters, which aims to raise awareness of
relationships issues and increase protection against potential
exploitation for young people aged 13-25 in Torfaen, Newport,
Monmouthshire and Caerphilly.
Ryan designs and delivers workshops in schools, colleges and
youth settings across Gwent, as well as organising weekly meetings
for LGBT young people and networks with other organisations.
'Ryan has done all this alongside revising for and sitting his A
Level exams, and very much wants to stay involved in the project as
much as possible whilst in university,' said Cara Battrick,
Volunteering Matters Project Manager.
'He is passionate and motivated in helping young people and
aspires to become a teacher. With his determination and support,
Ryan has motivated other young people to join the project and also
expand the LGBT group to another youth provision.'
Ryan said: 'To win this award is to highlight how my voluntary
work with the Sex Matters Too project has been worthwhile. I would
never have thought I'd ever win an award such as this, but I'm
extremely grateful and hope to continue volunteering with
Volunteering Matters in the future.'
Ayesha Khan has blossomed
from a shy, quiet teenager into a wheelchair sports competitor,
'amazing ambassador' for a young people's charity and an 'utterly
exemplary' role model to her peers.
The 20-year-old from Newport was badly bullied at school,
avoided talking to other people and rarely went out before
receiving a lightweight wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz and joining the
charity's Cardiff Ambassador Club for young wheelchair users aged
14-25 in 2010.
In her role as young leader, Ayesha runs group activities and
delivers training, acting as a mentor to other young people at
Whizz-Kidz residential camps designed to help young disabled people
develop new skills, make friends and have fun.
'She supports and encourages young wheelchair users to become
more confident and independent, and to try activities they would
previously have only dreamed about,' said Whizz-kidz Manager Jo
She also finds time to play wheelchair tennis and has been a
'fantastic' fundraiser for Whizz-Kidz, raising more than £1,600 to
date from activities included participating in the Cardiff Half
'Ayesha's commitment to volunteering is utterly exemplary,' Jo
added. 'She is not only an amazing ambassador for Whizz-Kidz and
its work, she's also a role model to other young people.
'Ayesha is an inspiration to the staff, young people and other
volunteers. She is always the first to volunteer and always so
passionate about the volunteering she does. The organisation is so
lucky to have a volunteer like Ayesha and what she contributes to
the organisation is so valuable.'
Ayesha said she felt honoured receiving the Volunteer of the
Year award. 'I would like to thank Whizz-Kidz for nominating me,'
she added. 'Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. They have
supported me right from when I first started to now, and I feel
humbled being a part of an organisation which has such a friendly
bunch of staff.'
Ruth Owen, Chief Executive at Whizz-Kidz, added: 'We're so proud
of Ayesha, and we're thrilled that her inspirational commitment to
volunteering has been recognised with this much-deserved award.
'As a volunteer - and a fundraiser - Ayesha is not only a
fantastic role model for her peers, she also embodies all of
Whizz-Kidz values. We're delighted for her!'
Jack Devulght is the
youth mentor and chairs the young person's Youth Forum at The Roots
Foundation Wales, to increase the participation of other young
people who are in care.
Jack is a volunteer on the CARE Project (Children at risk of
exploitation) where he assists with the running of workshops that
focus on raising the awareness levels of young people in care who
may be at risk of exploitation.
The community in which Jack's volunteer activities take place is
classed as an area of social deprivation, with an increasing number
of young people in care and finding they need increased
Jack is a young person who lives in kinship care (living with
extended family members), and as such, takes it upon himself to act
as a positive role model for other young people in care, also
providing an increased support network.
'Jack has shown he does not let being in care be a barrier to
his own development and is open in sharing his own stories with
others to demonstrate that a positive solution is always
achievable,' said Josh Price, from The Roots Foundation Wales.
'Jack performs his role despite his own disabilities and focuses
on others rather than himself when doing so.'
Working on a gardening project for people with
mental health problems gave Donna Macliston the confidence to help
others make the same progress.
After two years of being supported by Solas Cymru Housing
Association to take part in its community allotments scheme in the
Vale of Glamorgan, Donna is now herself volunteering to show people
with similar issues how to dig, plant, and pot and look after the
plants they grow.
The products that are grown are used to eat healthily and to
help the community gaining a better understanding of healthy
'The allotments benefit people with stress and anxiety and
provide a community hub for them to meet others who have had
similar experiences,' said Sarah Davies from Solas Cymru. 'They
have helped them to feel less isolated and more united.
'Donna is no longer supported by Solas, as she has achieved her
goals set out at the beginning of her time receiving support,'
Sarah added. 'She has developed as a person and her volunteering
has given her pride and ownership of something she enjoys and can
feel a part of.'
'Human' nurse and
emergency hedgehog carer Diane Mansell also cared for 100 baby
hedgehogs in the course of one summer.
A volunteer carer for Hedgehog Helpline in Caldicot, which
rescues, rehabilitates and releases wild hedgehogs in South East
Wales, Diane has hedgehogs referred to her through calls to the
charity's helpline or from vets, to assess, diagnose problems -
such as internal parasites seen under microscopes - and treat
Diane admits baby 'hoglets', which require a specialised, much
more intensive level of care, from one-day-old through to eventual
release back into the wild. 'Last summer, she took in 100 - which
is amazing - especially when a few hours/day-old hoglets are on
two-hourly feeds,' said fellow volunteer Susan Hooper.
The charity also runs hedgehog courses and Diane has written a
training programme to educate fellow carers on hoglet care.
'The amount of effort and time Diane puts into both hedgehogs
and writing guidelines for our training courses makes her stand out
as one special person,' Susan added. 'She is modest and calm, a
"human" nurse by trade, and she should be recognised for her quiet
presence, empathy and in the education of others.'
Diane said it was a great honour to be nominated for the award
and for recognition of
the fantastic work done by everyone involved in Hedgehog
'Although at times very emotional and demanding, caring for
these amazing creatures is so rewarding. This award will help
promote our work, increase public awareness in promoting an
environment for hedgehogs to live safely and thrive in the
Michael Baker is the most
committed volunteer in a team running the hugely successful
toogoodtowaste, in Ynyshir, Porth, a charity established in 1995 to
offer a wide range of services to communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf
through re-use and recycling.
The company has a loyal team of core volunteers who are very
committed to the organisation and its charitable causes and without
their day-to-day involvement, the organisation would be unable to
'Our most committed volunteer is Michael Baker,' said Shaun
England from toogoodtowaste. 'He has overcome multiple personal
barriers including literacy, numeracy, petty crime and drug
addiction to become our most valued volunteer, team member and
Michael, 50, takes newcomers to the charity under his wing
showing them all aspects of the job role and specific skills,
actions and activities they will need to succeed as a volunteer.
'But, more importantly, he genuinely cares about the person, treats
everyone equally and works to develop their motivation,
self-belief, confidence and self-esteem,' Shaun added.
His main goal is to 'build people up' while they spend time in
his department by sharing his journey and the influences that
shaped him, to help others overcome their barriers allowing them to
'Michael is fully committed to toogoodtowaste, having
volunteered without a break in services since 2009. From January
2010 to December 2015 Michael volunteered a staggering 7,705 hours.
Michael has helped very many other volunteers succeed with
toogoodtowaste in supporting them with their development and
progression into further volunteering and/or employment.
'Without doubt, Michael Baker is too good to waste.'
Michael said he was thrilled to be
recognised for the award. 'I believe that we all have a duty to
help others - supporting people gives me a sense of purpose and
helps build better local communities.'
'Marvellous' Valerie Mitchell has been
instrumental in a campaign to save an historic building, now being
renovated with the aid of a £4m Lottery award.
Retired from a career in the probation services, Valerie, of
Llandaff, Cardiff has dedicated the past 25 years to saving nearby
Insole Court from sale for private development - work which
resulted in the largest Community Asset Transfer Scheme in
She was a member of an action group campaigning against the sale
of the building, then of the Friends of Insole Court, and now as
part of the Insole Court Trust which is leading the Lottery-funded
Valerie is the Chair of Friends and sits on the Board of the
Insole Court Trust - roles sufficiently demanding in themselves.
However, her commitment to the project over the past year has seen
her take on further responsibilities, putting in up to 100 hours of
volunteer time each month, often more.
'We have many valuable volunteers but to my mind Val is
exceptional, not only for the amount of time she has given and the
number of different tasks taken on, but for her extraordinary
willingness to get involved and to learn,' said Insole Court Trust
Project Director Neil Richards.
'Val Mitchell is marvellous. She doesn't volunteer her time with
the intention of standing out - but she certainly does stand out
and does deserve special recognition on behalf of all the
volunteers at Insole Court. The project is better, stronger and
more enjoyable for her tremendous contributions.'
Valerie said: 'This award is not just for me, but for all the
dedicated friends of Insole Court who have stepped up over the
years to ensure that this wonderful Victorian mansion is preserved
for community and heritage. Pulling together despite inevitable
differences has resulted in the breathtaking transformation of the
stable yard and, in due course, the house itself.
'I am so excited by the prospect that this truly community
effort has resulted in a destination which will enrich the lives of
all who attend classes and events, and also visitors who will be
delighted when they visit Insole Court.'
Bernie was sadly unable to attend the ceremony
but luckily fellow volunteer Alison Davies was on hand to collect
Bernie Ford ensures the 'vital' IT at his branch of Samaritans
runs smoothly, while also providing support to people in despair -
and running his own business.
Actively involved in the running of Powys Samaritans in
Llandrindod Wells since 2006, Bernie has been a 'strong and
committed participant', contributing more of his time than anyone
else to the unpopular night shift and taking various leadership
He chaired the management committee for two spells of three
years each. In the first of these he helped lead the project to
move the branch to more suitable premises. In the second, he led
the branch through its transition from an unincorporated charity to
a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).
In addition to his leadership and management role, Bernie
procures, installs, and maintains the branch's complex IT and
telephone systems. 'These systems are fundamental to the work of
Samaritans and any failure must be repaired swiftly,' said Trustee
Phil King. 'He also doubled the branch's capacity to respond to
callers' emails and texts.
'Bernie leads by example,' Phil King added. 'As well as running
his own business he has successfully steered the branch through a
move to new premises, opening of a charity shop to raise needed
funds, a new computerised phone system and a major change in
'Bernie's foresight, courage, attention to detail, hard work,
commitment, good governance, and superb leadership deserves
national recognition in the Volunteer of the Year Awards.'
Bernie said volunteering with the smallest branch of Samaritans
in Wales required 'by necessity the adoption of a personal
multi-tasking volunteering ethos.
'This, although very demanding on individual time, offers one the
reward of being part of an intricately intertwined and interrelated
locally based mutually supportive team, emotionally and
logistically, which contributes to a complex national support
organisation the primary focus of which is to support those in
distress and despair,' he added.
'I see winning this award as recognition that the fantastic
efforts by all those that volunteer with Powys Samaritans in
Llandrindod Wells are appreciated and valued.'
Christopher Mill is playing a major role in aiming
to reduce the number of suicides in the South Wales Valleys by
establishing their first-ever Samaritans branch.
The former Samaritans Trustee for Wales from Cardigan, a
listening volunteer in Haverfordwest, is Chair of Samaritans
Valleys Steering Group, which is overseeing the establishment of a
project in the Valleys to raise awareness of the service and the
importance of seeking help. The project is also delivering
emotional support in various locations including in the centre of
Merthyr Tydfil, on the street and in job centres.
'Christopher had for some time wanted to establish a Samaritans
presence in the South Wales Valleys where we have no branch,' said
Sarah Stone Samaritans Cymru Chief Executive.
'It is an area of significant need and we are well aware of the
link between socio-economic deprivation and suicide. He has played
a major role in designing the South Wales Valleys Project, in
achieving funding for it and in recruiting a volunteer director and
a paid project officer,' she added.
Christopher had also been a mentor and troubleshooter for his
local branch and regional directors and trustees, while continuing
to be a listening volunteer, listening to callers during his weekly
'Christopher Mill's contribution to the cause of reducing death
by suicide is exceptional,' said Sarah Stone. 'He has the
confidence of volunteers and staff from the chair and throughout
the organisation and has been outstandingly generous with his time
and wise counsel.'
Christopher described volunteering with Samaritans as
'challenging but exceptionally rewarding. This award is for our
hundreds of volunteers and supporters in Wales, and for all those
in despair and anxiety they help to feel safer, listened to, and
better understood,' he added. 'Join us - they need you.'
World Heritage Youth Ambassadors
Young people working to promote the World Heritage
town of Blaenavon have inspired other young people in a community
where it's considered 'uncool' to be 'involved'.
The World Heritage Youth Ambassadors has been running for just a
year, but achieved 'a phenomenal amount', said Cllr Gareth Davies,
who recently completed his term as Mayor of Blaenavon.
The volunteer programme was set up with the aim of empowering
young people aged 13 to 21 to learn about and have an active voice
in the World Heritage Site and be represented in community and
They help out at events by being stewards and running community
stalls, raising money for community groups and at Blaenavon World
'The Youth Ambassadors are empowered to influence other young
people through positive activity - they engage with other young
people and bring them into the project and demonstrate that they
can make a real difference in the area,' said Cllr Davies.
'In a community where it is "uncool" to be "involved", they
proudly participate and promote young people as good role models.
They give the young people of Blaenavon and the area a voice to be
heard- this is why they should receive special recognition.'
Youth Ambassadors member Ashleigh
Taylor described receiving the award as a huge honour for the
group. 'It's a real testimony to the hard work and dedication of
all our young people who have made such a difference in the
Blaenavon World Heritage Site,' she said.
'It is amazing to be recognised
as a programme that not only makes a real impact in our community,
but gives young people a voice they would not have had otherwise.
We are thrilled and incredibly proud to be receiving the award and
want to thank Blaenavon Town Council for nominating us and WCVA for
Friends of Polly's Park
A group of more than 100 volunteers has turned
Polly's Park in St Thomas, Swansea - the only green space in the
community - from a 'no-go wilderness' to an open inviting
recreational space frequently enjoyed by many people.
St Thomas is a Communities First area with higher proportions of
babies and children under 15, people aged over 65 and lone parent
households. The park is its only recreational area.
Friends of Polly's Park secured a grant of £25,000 from the
Aviva Community Fund to redevelop and transform the park. The
funding was spent on new apparatus and an adventure trail, a new
wildlife area with a 'bug hotel' and pond, 'fairy houses', a
sensory garden and picnic areas.
'Friends of Polly's Park has only been going for 18 months but
already achieved an incredible amount in such a short space of
time,' said local resident Gloria Moore. 'They are creating magical
memories and these are the things that children will remember.
'The volunteers spend hours upon hours of their own spare time
carrying out action days at the park, which has gone from a no-go
wilderness to an open inviting recreational space which is
frequently enjoyed by many.
'The group has brought real community spirit back into our area
and I feel the project has improved the emotional, mental and
physical wellbeing of many local residents. Barriers have been
broken down and it seems as though people have more time to talk,
the talking point centring around the park.
'They are also making the older residents feel part of the
project and making us feel young again. There is a buzz around the
Hayley Gwilliam from Friends of Polly's Park said: 'We are
absolutely delighted to have been nominated by our wonderful friend
and neighbour Gloria Moore. We have had tremendous support in our
local community for the work we have been doing.
'What has been achieved would not be possible without the hard
work of our many volunteers adults and children who give up their
free time; the school and the student council who have helped and
the local library who have been so very supportive.
'We have an excellent pool of volunteers who all have different
strengths and abilities and this creates a winning team. It has
been a wonderful couple of years for the group and we look forward
to the future and being able to enjoy the park.'
Cwmni Cymunedol Cletwr
A quiet mid Wales parish in Powys has seen a huge
revival in its community spirit, thanks to a 50-strong team of
volunteers who bought and transformed the local shop into a vital
Cwmni Cymunedol Cletwr (CCC) - which is managed as a social
enterprise by a volunteer Board of Directors - runs a community
shop and café, staffed by residents ranging from accountants, web
designers and builders to retirees and vulnerable people.
The shop supplies competitively priced fresh local produce, a
wide range of fruit and vegetables, local meats, dairy and organic
wholefoods - all helping to keep the village healthier, said local
resident Louise Halestrap.
'Welsh language practice is encouraged, even a few words, which
makes both English and Welsh speakers more self confident in
sharing a few words of greeting and creates cross-cultural links,'
'The CCC has managed to get the best out of the community -
villagers get to know each other much more, because we meet either
as a customer or a volunteer, and the training given enhances
essential job skills
'Older people have found a new avenue for their wealth of skills
and experience - we have many older volunteers who are happy to
give time and expertise to help the Siop run and to train younger
Shelagh Hourahane from Cwmni Cymunedol Cletwr said: 'The WCVA
award recognises the hard work and enthusiasm of a dedicated group
of volunteers, without whom Siop Cynfelyn would not have been able
to open and to operate for the last three years.
'This award marks an important milestone in the development of
our long-term vision to provide a valuable and sustainable
community service and to increase resilience in a vulnerable rural
'It is with a sense of pride that we showcase this project,
which we hope will set a standard for similar ventures throughout
Teenager Molly Davies-Briskham was the youngest
person in a team from Wales helping children and young people in an
impoverished part of India to learn English and take part in
At just 19 years old, Swansea resident Molly completed a
month-long international volunteer placement with Empower - Be The
Change in Tamil Nadu. 'The youngest volunteer we received on the
project, she took the brave decision to travel to India to take up
this opportunity,' said Jo Clay
'Molly adapted with ease to this completely different
environment and quickly became a natural leader and source of
inspiration for the other two volunteers who were undertaking
placements at the same time,' she added.
All the volunteers live in the local boys' orphanage, delivering
English lessons and sports coaching sessions there and in local
schools and college.
'The role of the volunteer is essential in breaking the cycle of
poverty,' Jo Clay added. 'Volunteers instil a sense of belief
amongst these young people that they can develop and use their
talents to create better opportunities for themselves.
'Molly's commitment, time and energy alone is enough to nominate
her for this award. From the minute she arrived to long after her
placement, Molly worked tirelessly to plan and deliver fun,
interactive, interesting and memorable sessions for all the lessons
that she delivered.'
Molly said: 'Sometimes things come along that genuinely do
change your life - for me, my trip to India was one of those
things. It moulded me into the person that I have always wanted to
'I loved every single moment of my placement in India from the
moment I stepped on the plane, to my goodbyes. My experiences, the
country and its people continue to be my biggest inspirations
everyday in everything I do.'
Despite a tough childhood
and adolescence, Josh Lewis from Swansea is determined to become a
youth worker to help other young people with similar problems.
A senior volunteer at the YMCA, he has assisted during and out
of group times to ensure the smooth running of the service and
youth department. He assists with organising trips and volunteers
on a Saturday to take the young people to various events.
Josh, aged 24, has also volunteered in Togo, Africa with YCARE
International, which provides overseas volunteering opportunities
for young people. Josh was more than willing and straight away
started to plan fundraising ideas.
'Josh describes this as a transformative and invaluable
experience, learning things that challenged his personal, social
and educational skills,' said YMCA Swansea Youth Worker Ashleigh
'Josh is a lot more confident at taking the lead with tasks and
activities and he says that he finds skills such as finding
destinations he has never been to before much easier now.
'He is very determined to become a team leader for YCare
International and to visit other places around the world. He has
completed a Level 2 Award in Youth Work Practise with YMCA
Community College to begin a career in youth work because this is
something he is very passionate about,' Ashleigh added.
'Josh has had a tough childhood and adolescence - but despite
his experiences, he is a warm, genuine and caring person. He is a
good listener and cares deeply about the world, rights and young
people. Josh is now trying to gain every experience he can in order
to develop his skills and form a career path as a youth worker. I
believe that he will develop into an excellent youth worker that
young people will relate to well.'
Josh said: 'I am very humbled and proud of being a
recipient of this award. It is always great to be recognised for
your achievements and the work that you have done. Over the last
two years I have met some incredible young people and
volunteers and I would like to think that me
receiving this award could inspire them to follow in my
footsteps and receive similar awards.
'Everything I have achieved this year, and over the last two
years would not have been possible without some of the
amazing people I have been lucky enough to meet along the way, in
France, Togo and back here in the UK. Thank you all!'