Just a short stroll from London Waterloo, the BFI IMAX welcomed the largest volunteering awards in the country. Into its third year the vInspired Awards have already congratulated and recognized over 160 young volunteers (aged 16-25) for their efforts via star studded ceremonies as the Indigo O2. This year Big Brothers Bit On The Side presenter Emma Willis and Comedian Eddie Kadi hosted the event, with the help of a mixed bag of well known faces from sport, film, music and politics. Emma brought her down to earth warmth to proceedings, looking impossibly flawless in a plum tiered dress, with Eddie offering cheekiness, cracking dance moves and light relief to the highly emotional evening.
Prior to kicking off I lingered in the press room to try and grab chats with some of the nights performers and presenters. Not wishing to disturb Trevor Nelson, who was busy chatting to host of people connected to the wonderful awards including the lovely people from FairShareMusic, I waited till one of the nights performers came down. I must admit I spent a while trying not to get distracted by Danielle Brown's killer body, which had been showcased marvelously by a body conscious gold mini dress.
Seeing as he is now an inspiration to many youths of the UK with his drive, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, SBTVs Ceo Jamal Edwards was an obvious choice to present an award, and chose to speak words written on his iphone as a fresh response to witnessing the individual volunteer stories during the evening. I managed to catch the successful young man for a chat before he left the venue. It would turn out that he was also celebrating his own landmark achievement.
The main points, enhanced articulately and passionately by Terry Ryall, CEO of vInspired, is that the people we celebrated during the evening haven’t asked for a pat on the back, but that the many good things youths are doing and achieving in the UK should be recognized by events such as this. All too often society and the media concentrate on the negative stories and statistics instead of encouraging all of the positive movements, initiatives, and individual triumphs happening across the country. The other factor that was clear from hearing all of the stores was that in helping others, they had also helped themselves - whether it’s given them the confidence they lacked previously, given them a purpose, goal and drive, a distraction or direction away from an alternative troublesome route, a chance to pursue a dream career or just make some great new friends.
In the world I work it is all too easy to get engrossed in the superficial. I am grateful for nights like this, that bring you back to earth and remind you what is truly important.
The Winners were.....
Best new volunteer: Zoe Burden, from Lowestoft, has been volunteering for Brighter Futures for the past year, taking children in care on day-trips and giving them opportunities to socialize – a cause very close to Zoe’s heart as she is currently living in supported accommodation and has, herself, been in care for the last three years
All round commitment to volunteering: Danika Hamilton, from Hulme, is a passionate and committed volunteer who credits volunteering with changing the course of her own life. Having experienced coping with homelessness and depression, volunteering has given her focus and determination to help others
Bringing communities together: Joanna Mayes, from Biggleswade, volunteers for NACRO as a football coach. She has overcome a very traumatic time in her past and feels that volunteering has helped her along her road to recovery
Team Activity: The Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers programme team in North Tyneside takes on a large group of young people drinking in a local park on Friday nights by setting up street football sessions
Outstanding Contribution by a Youth Worker: Barry Clark, from Hatfield, has been working at the Hatfield centre for more than 40 years, providing a variety of volunteering activities for young people depending on their interests
Most Outstanding NCS Team: Harrow National Citizen’s Service (NCS) team aims to promote a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society by bringing young people from different backgrounds together to make a difference in their communities.