London community organisation Octavia celebrated the invaluable work of all of its wonderful volunteers at an awards evening at Lambeth Palace yesterday (Thursday 28 June).
The event shined a light on the work of the many and varied contributions that Octavia volunteers make to the lives of people living in central and west London. All of Octavia’s volunteers across its charity shops, Care and community support services were invited to attend the reception and dinner.
Actor Tamsin Greig attended the event and presented the awards. There were six award categories covering diverse volunteering roles, including befriending, youth projects and helping out with activities for older people. All of the award winners were nominated by service users or colleagues.
The top award for ‘Outstanding Volunteer’ went to befriender Manoj Gopal for his dedication to his 94-year-old befriendee.
Befriending and care volunteer award
- Winner, Ava– Ava was nominated by her Befriendee, who in her nomination said: ‘Having her (Ava) visit me feels like having someone from my family that has been missing. I couldn’t see myself without her. We have a lot of things in common and we feel connected. The wonderful thing about her is that she never cancels on me regardless of how busy she is. This has changed my life completely and I never thought it would.’
Shop volunteer award
- Winner, Roya– Roya was nominated by 5 of her colleagues for ‘her loyalty to the Octavia Foundation, the good causes we do, and her attention to very fine details to make our job much better. She creates awareness for the charity through her social channels, she is committed whenever she is needed even out of her agreed rota (on weekends) and all customers just love her being on shop floor. Simply she is a star.’
Project volunteer award
- Winner, Frances– Frances was nominated by colleagues for being “a pleasure to have in the office and a real asset to the whole team”.
Team volunteer award
- Winner, Harrods Fine Watch Department– They were nominated for their incredible efforts and creativity at the Octavia Foundation Brompton Road shop, which helped to raise a record £8,000 over 2 different days for Octavia’s community work. ‘They set a new standard for what can be achieved by running their ‘apprentice’ style challenge in Octavia’s Brompton Road shop. They ran a social media campaign including videos, a fashion show and live window displays. They also provided doorman in full regalia to entice customers to the shop.’
Community volunteering award
- Winner, Lola– Lola was nominated for her volunteering work at one of Octavia’s community spaces – The Reed, ‘where she helps to run a weekly Group Befriending Session. The group involves isolated older people who have very little social interaction. She brings her great charm, sense of humour and has interesting topics for discussion in the sessions.’
Outstanding volunteer award
- Winner, Manoj– Manoj is a befriender who has struck up a very special and supportive relationship with his befriendee, who said in her nomination: ‘He (Manoj) visits me on a regular basis because I am old and very isolated. For 3 years he has been with me and has been my source of joy. He takes me out to get fresh air even in my wheelchair. He gives me moral support, and he updates me on current affairs of what is happening in the society. I have mobility problems – I can’t go out but he goes out to help get anything I need especially my Indian sweets. I thank Octavia for bringing this great person my way who brings me such joy.’