A team of volunteers with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) won the Charity Partner Award at the Diocese of Westminster Social Action Awards, at a virtual celebration last Wednesday evening , 2nd June.
This award was open to volunteers at any charity which has worked with Caritas Westminster and the Caritas Volunteer Service in the past year.
The winners – the JRS Emergency Response Team was formed speedily when their Day
Centre for refugees was forced to close due to the Covid Lockdown.
This team not only delivered food and hygiene parcels to refugees, they also made all the arrangements for the deliveries, ensuring the parcels met the needs of each individual. A Diabetic would receive wholegrain instead of white rice, and the many refugees being accommodated in hotels needed foods that could be cooked with limited facilities. The volunteers also delivered phones and laptops where required, which allowed the refugees to keep connected and to access the support they needed.
In total, the JRS Emergency Response Team distributed 2982 parcels between March 2020 and March 2021.
Many of the drivers have delivered to the same people through the year and have built up relationships with the refugees they visit. One refugee said of the volunteer who delivers to her “She is very friendly and always smiling. She always asks if I am OK and always has some time to chat with me before she leaves. I am so happy that I can speak to someone as lovely as her and I feel so happy any time she brings me the stuff to my house.”
On receiving the award Anne from the Volunteer team said “I was delighted and deeply honoured to accept this award on behalf of JRS Emergency Support Team. The evening was an inspiration seeing the dedication and resourcefulness of the organisations and people involved. Thank you to Caritas Westminster & JRS who through their leadership and example help us all to open our hearts to the plight of our fellow human beings. Most of all I thank our refugee friends who teach me in so many ways often unspoken, about nobility, perseverance and love”.