Home-Start UK’s Volunteer Awards was held on Thursday 18th January to recognise and celebrate the amazing contributions of volunteers across the network. After receiving some truly inspiring nominations, a panel of judges came together to select the winners across six different categories.

More than 200 people from all over the UK joined the online event, to see the winners announced. Each of the winners will receive a cash prize from Marsh Charitable Trust, who kindly sponsored the event, as well as a trophy and certificate.

Sally Munday, Volunteer Development Manager for Home-Start UK said There are more than 10,000 Home-Start volunteers and 1,000 Trustees who volunteer in communities all over the UK. They all make a huge difference to families, and our Volunteer Awards are a perfect opportunity to recognise the incredible achievements of just some of them. It’s just a small thank you for the amazing impact they have made in their communities.”

This year’s Home-Start UK Volunteer Award winners 2024 are:

Volunteer of the Year: Margaret Rylands from Home-Start Isle of Wight

‘Because she is Margaret! The most kind-hearted non-judgemental, selfless person you could ever meet’, (the words of a parent).  Margaret has been a constant at Home-Start Isle of Wight since 1999. In that time, she has supported 14 families. She has experienced challenges with her health and the last couple of years have been marked by the loss of loved ones. Despite everything Margaret never wants to take a break and puts everything into supporting Home-Start.

Watch this wonderful film about Margaret Rylands, Home-Start Volunteer of the Year 2024

Winners of the other six categories are: 

Corporate Volunteer 
Ellie Meek - 
Home-Start Glasgow South

Ellie has generously provided free breakfast twice a week for Home-Start Glasgow South’s community club, The Warm Place, since it opened in October 2022. Over 60 families have benefited from this which has made an enormous difference during an ongoing cost of living crisis. It has also created a warm sense of community for the families that come together to share food.

Digital Volunteer 
Steve Marsden -
Home-Start Trafford, Salford & Wigan

Steve brings decades of IT and website experience to support Home-Start Trafford, Salford and Wigan as a leading Home-Start to adopt a paperless system. His support allowed staff to remotely support families and volunteers online during COVID-19. He is his Home-Start’s go to person for IT and they have yet to present him with a digital issue he’s been unable to solve.

Group Volunteer 
Gemma Law -
Home-Start Suffolk

Gemma began volunteering for Home-Start after being a supported mum herself. Gemma put herself forward to support her Home-Start’s Mum’s in Mind Group, after she finished her training and had supported families on the phone. Gemma is a huge asset to Home-Start Suffolk and despite her own personal challenges her passion and commitment to Home-Start shine through.

Home Visitor 
Liz Kemp -
Home-Start Warrington & Cheshire

Liz has been a Home-Start volunteer for five years and supports families both in groups and in their homes. Most recently, she has been supporting a family through the grief of losing a child. Speaking about Liz the grieving mum said “With her huge heart and endless dedication, Liz has been there for me, giving me emotional support and making it possible for me to find the time to focus on myself and my feelings. During the darkest time of my life, she has been a constant ray of light.” 

Supporter Volunteer 
Amy Sills and Mircina Bleniou -
Home-Start East Sussex

Amy and Mircina have made the transition from being supported by Home-Start to supporting others, and they took on the huge task of setting up a brand new programme - domestic abuse peer support. Peer Support mentoring is a complex undertaking and has meant these volunteers have had to navigate their own trauma as a major part of this role. This service simply would not exist without them.

Liz Ewart-JamesHome-Start Stroud & Gloucester

Inspired by the ethos of Home-Start and committed to try and make a difference in Gloucestershire, where there were no Home-Starts, Liz, set about establishing a scheme in her home area, Stroud over 20 years ago and has been a constant presence ever since. Her tireless dedication has not only ensured the long-term sustainability of the charity but has also left an indelible mark on the families she serves. 

Local Home-Starts were invited to submit their nominations and the winners were carefully selected from a shortlist by a judging panel that consisted of:

·       Annie McCarthy, Trusts Manager, Marsh Charitable Trust  

·       Sarah McMullen, Associate Director Research & Policy, The Royal Foundation for Early Childhood

·       Nicola Hughes, Group Head of Charities, Responsible Business and Social Impact at BT Group

·       Louise Sansom, Trusts Fundraising Officer, Home-Start UK 

The event also recognised the impact made by volunteers who may not have won in their category but who were given ‘extra applause’ with a special mention to others who gave their time to Home-Start to support families across the UK in 2023.  

Home-Start UK chief executive, Peter Grigg celebrated the awards recognising the powerful work of volunteers across the Home-Start movement. 

He said “Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated or won an award this year. We are so grateful for all you do to help families and your local Home-Start thrive. You really are the magic at the heart of our impact on families. These awards are a wonderful way to say thank you for sharing your time, energy, and heart and making such a difference.”

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