On Thursday 17 November, the Diocese of Westminster presented awards to eleven volunteers or groups of volunteers for their work in responding to needs in their parishes and communities. Ten other individuals or groups received runners-up certificates.
The second annual Diocese of Westminster “Love in Action” Volunteering Awards were presented at an event hosted by Caritas Westminster at Westminster Cathedral Hall, with Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Paul McAleenan presenting the trophies.
Over seventy nominations were received for the awards in six categories. The competition was so great, that in most categories two winners were selected, so that individuals and teams of volunteers could be recognised separately. The range of nominations highlighted the breadth of Social Action going on across the diocese, which covers most of London north of the Thames and Hertfordshire, including community-building activities within parishes, commitment to the work of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, working with people experiencing homelessness, and supporting individuals in crisis through one-to-one mentoring.
The winners are:
- School Social Action Award (Primary school): Holy Family primary School West Acton, for hosting a tea-party for isolated elderly people, and a whole range of other social outreach activities.
- School Social Action Award (Secondary School): The Chaplaincy Outreach Team at Douay Martyrs school in Ickenham, for collecting items to send to Ukrainian Refugees, and supporting the local food bank, and setting an example for all students in the school.
- Parish Social Action Award (Individual): Janet Lewis, president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) conference in Welwyn Garden City, for her untiring efforts in bringing people in from the margins.
- Parish Social Action Award (Team) – Joint winners: The Soup Run team at St James’s Church in Marylebone and the Sandwich Service team from Notre Dame de France near Leicester Square – both for their compassionate support for people experiencing homelessness.
- Outstanding Service to the Parish Award (Individual): Vincent Joaquim Fernandes, St Michael and St Martin, Hounslow, for building up a team of volunteers, including many young people, who run a food bank and many other activities.
- Outstanding Service to the Parish Award (Team): Social Apostolate, St Ignatius Church Stamford Hill team, for their outstanding project feeding, welcoming and supporting people in financial and other difficulties.
- Young Volunteer of the Year (Individual): Vincenzo Arrigo, former student at St Joan of Arc Catholic School, Rickmansworth, for organising and transporting essential supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
- Young Volunteer of the Year (Team): one of the “Redcap” volunteer groups from the Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, for their companionship and support for pilgrims needing assistance.
- Charity Partner Volunteer Award: The Advice for Renters Mentoring Team, for their compassion and their listening skills, which have made a huge impact on the lives of their clients.
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Sister Christine Frost FCJ for building up the community in Poplar through the Neighbours in Poplar charity which she founded more than 50 years ago.
- Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award: Ronald Palmer for nearly 40 years of volunteering at Caritas St Joseph’s, where he is the book-keeper.
Opening the evenings celebration, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said “Awards are also about encouragement, about having aspirations, about wanting to be there. I hope and pray that this evening… will be a great spur an encouragement to many to say “hey, I’d like to be there!” … and spur them on to a greater effort.”
During the evening special mention was made of two individuals who had committed their lives to volunteering, and improving the lives of those around them. Bruce Kent, well known activist and campaigner for peace, and Libby Biberian, a volunteer at Caritas St Joseph’s. Libby helped bring the work of St Joseph’s to parishes across Westminster diocese by helping to establish Saturday Clubs for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Closing the evening Bishop Paul thanked all who made the awards evening possible, but emphasised the volunteers who “have displayed and participated in love in action precisely by using the heart that God has given to us.” He continued, “Our human love is expressing God’s love for all of us, it is taking flesh in what is happening in the interaction that we participate in.”
- Holy Family School West Acton, Ann-Marie McDaid and Cara Moran
- Vincenzo Arrigo
- Team of Redcaps
- St James’ Soup Run
- Notre Dame de France, Sandwich Service.
- Kasia and Gabi from the Social Apostolate
- Sr Christine Frost
- Ron Palmer