Welfare Service named the charity of the year

SUPPLYING vitally needed food to those in need saw Guernsey Welfare Service recognised as charity of the year at last night’s Community Awards.

Guernsey Welfare Service have won Charity of The Year at the Community Foundation Awards. (28921607)
Guernsey Welfare Service have won Charity of The Year at the Community Foundation Awards. (28921607)

The event at St James saw the Guernsey Community Foundation recognising organisations and individuals in the community who have made the Bailiwick a better place.

The GWS provides a range of services, but is perhaps best known for its food bank work. Each year it supplies local households with around £75,000-worth of groceries and produce – donated by individuals and supermarkets.

During lockdown, the food bank continued thanks to volunteers. When restrictions lifted, the GWS ran a back-to-school packed lunch project, which saw 2,000 lunches delivered to hundreds of households.

The Guernsey Welfare Service also organises life skills courses and support groups to help address the effects of loneliness, insecure housing, relative poverty, a lack of essential skills and challenging family dynamics.

The competition judges were impressed by the number of people helped by the Guernsey Welfare Service, who carry out much of their work away from the spotlight.

‘The service had come into its own during lockdown, when it was able – despite logistical and financial challenges – to keep its all-important food bank running throughout,’ the judges said.

Another group that has faced some big Covid-19 challenges and uncertainty in 2020 was Liberate. But despite this a successful Channel Islands Pride celebration was held in September. Now Liberate has been recognised for its hard work, by being named organising committee of the year.

An estimated 7,000 people took part in the celebrations. There were also pre-Pride events such as illuminating Town Church in rainbow colours.

The judges were struck by how many islanders took part in the Pride celebrations, and by the vast number of affiliated events that took place in the lead-up to the main event.

‘The Pride parade itself was logistically impressive, especially given that it involved entertainment from overseas, and was recognised as a huge success,’ they said.

Robert Platts was named for outstanding individual achievement. In 2008, as Guernsey MS Society chairman, he helped found the Guernsey Disability Alliance. It is now a high-profile umbrella organisation that brings together disability organisations of all stripes, as well as individuals with disabilities and carers.

The judges recognised the enormous contribution that Mr Platts, who was awarded an MBE in 2017, had made to the equality landscape over the years, thanks to his tenacity, his eloquence and his expertise.

The Channel Islands Co-operative Society was recognised for its corporate social responsibility this year.

As well as promoting Fairtrade goods and plastic-free packaging, it forged links with vital community initiatives such as the Ron Short grocery bus service, which delivers food to isolated households over the winter.

It also encourages cooperative working between businesses and the third sector by working with the likes of Olio, the Guernsey Welfare Service and ESI Monitor. The judges were struck by how seriously the Co-op took its CSR.

Stellar Events were named fundraising team of the year for its series of fundraising parties and balls – the most recent being the Snowfall event with a theme of Narnia and Swan Lake, which was held for two nights just before lockdown.

The £40,000 raised was split between Bright Tights, the Ivy Trust, Stop Male Suicide and Autism Guernsey.

The youth award was given to Jack Ceillam, after establishing the Youth Voice Project, which supports children living in, and eventually leaving, States care.

The judges praised Jack’s ability to connect with some of the island’s hardest-to-reach young people.

The creation of the autism passport by Autism Guernsey and Bailiwick Law Enforcement saw the organisations get the innovation award.

In 2019, they agreed to co-produce a Police Autism Passport Scheme.

Under the scheme, people with autism can volunteer to provide police with a ‘passport’ containing information on their communication preferences.

If they subsequently come into contact with the police, officers can support them more effectively.

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