“The standard of these nominations shows the amazing quality, diversity and impact of the voluntary sector in Sheffield’ was the verdict of the judges of the VAS Make a Difference Awards as the list of shortlisted entries was revealed.
Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS), which is dedicated to supporting the city to have a thriving and vibrant voluntary and community sector, is organising these awards to celebrate its 90th anniversary. They are designed to recognise and celebrate the quiet heroes of local community groups, charities and voluntary organisations and the huge contribution they make to the people, communities and the economy of Sheffield.
There are a total of nine categories demonstrating the range of activities and types of groups involved in the sector. They include how organisations engage with the community, involve and support volunteers, promote health and wellbeing, work in partnership with others or support young people. Two organisations have been shortlisted for each category and the winners will be announced at a prestigious Awards Ceremony and Celebration taking place on 24 November. The winners will have their awards presented by Jessica Ennis-Hill, someone who knows better than most what dedication and perseverance can achieve. A further nine organisations have been named as highly commended.
The judging panel were faced with the mammoth task of reading 140 nominations from more than 100 groups and organisations to identify the very strongest entries. Speaking on behalf of the panel Debbie Matthews, VAS Chair said; “We were extremely impressed with the quality of all the entries and inspired by the dedication, ingenuity and determination behind them to improve the lives of people across Sheffield. Choosing just two to shortlist from each category was difficult but we felt that our final 19 showcase the very best.
“We send our hearty congratulations to every organisation or group that took part in the awards and to all the wonderful workers and volunteers that keep them going. Every one of them really does make a difference to others and helps to make our city such a special place to live even when times are tough.”
Maddy Desforges, Chief Executive at VAS, said: “We have been delighted by the standard of entries that came in for our inaugural Make a Difference awards. Too often, we in the sector are almost apologetic that, despite our best efforts, we can’t do everything, for everybody all of the time. The reality is that every day, and often with very little resources, people across the city achieve amazing things making a real difference to people’s lives.
“It is our privilege at VAS to support and work with around 800 local community and voluntary groups each year and we are delighted to help celebrate the amazing breadth and diversity of voluntary and community work happening in Sheffield. I’m really looking forward to our Awards Ceremony in a few weeks when we can get together and take some time to recognise the difference being made every day all across the city”.
The shortlisted organisations below are arranged by category and in alphabetical order as the winner is a very closely guarded secret only to be revealed at the Awards Ceremony
Achievement in Supporting Young People
Roundabout provides shelter, support and life skills to young people who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. It was shortlisted for its Homeless Prevention Scheme and Peer Education Project.
Sheffield Young Carers supports Children and Young People who provide care for family members. It was shortlisted in recognition of the work it does and for the training it provides to schools, social care and health professionals to help identify those affected. Excellence in Community Engagement - kindly sponsored by HLW Keeble Hawson
Buzz provides a range of activities for more than 1000 vulnerable and isolated people. It was shortlisted for their active response to needs in the community across a wide age range and with diverse needs and for involving service users in the design of activities.
Recovery Enterprises supports people living with mental health conditions to build their confidence, realise their talents and to be heard and respected. It was shortlisted for their strength of community engagement and network of community enterprises, which include gardening, sport, art and training.
Outstanding Achievement in Involving & Supporting Volunteers
Assist Sheffield provides food, support and accommodation for asylum seekers in need. It was shortlisted for the quality and scope of the training and support it provides for more than 200 volunteers working in this challenging area.
Sheffield Volunteer Libraries run 15 libraries across the city. They were shortlisted for the number and diversity of their volunteers and the encouragement given to volunteers with learning disabilities, mental health needs and other challenges.
Most Innovative Organisation
AFC Unity is an alternative women’s football club that aims to produce positive role models and opportunities for women. It was shortlisted for their work empowering women by helping them to identify and work towards life goals through the experience of football.
Handmade Cinema takes low-cost cinema to locally accessible places like scout huts. It decorates them and provides themed activities, refreshments and music to help families interact with films. It was shortlisted for involving local communities with the preparations, making scenery, props or short films of their own.
Small Group – Big Impact - kindly sponsored by South Yorkshire Community Foundation
No Panic Sheffield provides support for people who have panic attacks, phobias, OCD and other anxiety-related disorders. This tiny organisation was shortlisted for its network of monthly self-help groups that help people to manage their anxiety, gain confidence and improve their wellbeing.
Sheffield Environment Weeks supports community groups and organisations that improve the environment and engage in practical conservation. With an annual budget of just £1500, it was shortlisted for the efforts of its working group who raise funds, liaise with groups and coordinate a programme of more than 200 events each year.
Excellence in Campaigning - kindly sponsored by South Yorkshire Housing Association
Ashiana Sheffield supports women who have been affected by violence and abuse including forced marriage, human trafficking and ‘honour-based’ violence. It was shortlisted for its work increasing awareness of female genital mutilation.
Sheffield Citizen’s Advice is the leading local provider of advice and mental health advocacy and aims to reduce poverty and campaign for social justice. This award is for their work campaigning around delays to benefits for terminally ill patients due to changes in the benefits system.
Excellence in Supporting Health & Wellbeing
Cavendish Cancer Care works alongside the NHS offering counselling, therapies and emotional support to those affected by cancer. It was shortlisted for its excellent work and because it has been operating 25 years and recently welcomed its 20,000th patient.
Manor & Castle Development Trust grew out of a local regeneration programme focussing on social, economic and health outcomes. It was shortlisted for four projects addressing health and wellbeing issues in different groups that together have engaged with 2000 local people.
Excellence in Partnership Working - kindly sponsored by Sheffield BID
Alzheimer’s Society Sheffield aims to improve dementia research, provide advice and support and demonstrate best practice dementia care. It was shortlisted for its work with local organisations including the NHS, whose clients or users may be affected by dementia.
Sheffield Alcohol Support Service – Peer Mentor Scheme works with those in hospital to give them support during the ‘high-risk’ immediate post-discharge period. It was shortlisted for its collaborative work local NHS organisations to use mentors with real experience to bridge the gap between inpatient care and community support.
Outstanding Achievement of Student-Led Project – kindly support by the Blunkett family
Save our Sandwiches Sheffield is a University of Sheffield student-led volunteer group that intercepts food that would go to waste and redistributes it to those in need. It was shortlisted for its work saving and redistributing food and for its work raising awareness of food waste and poverty.
Upscribe was founded by a creative writing student at Sheffield Hallam University who had experienced homelessness. It offers a safe and supportive environment for people to try out creative tasks to support self-expression and wellbeing. It was shortlisted for its work with children in care, refugees and other vulnerable groups.
The judges also awarded a Special Judges Award to Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity to recognise The Herd of Sheffield. Although it did not fit neatly in any one category, they felt the contribution it had made to raise the profile of the city, the sector and the hospital was worthy of particular mention. This special award recognises the impact of the elephants, which has been huge in so many ways.