“You are all winners,” Councillor Joan Millbank proclaimed as she presented the Mayor’s Award for Volunteering to 100 Lewisham residents at an event in Catford last Friday.
There were five winners of special categories during the ceremony. In the Volunteers and Individuals category Robert Morrison was awarded for his volunteering in the Quo Vadis mental health charity. Teklehamanot Beraki, who only arrived in the UK a few years ago, won the Young Person category for his work with the Young Lewisham Project. Beraki said he wanted to use this award to reach even more young people.
Beraki’s achievements were praised by Millbank who said: “Knowing he is a refugee from Eritrea and has had his own issues to overcome makes his contribution even more outstanding.”
Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock told Eastlondonlines: “The number of volunteers we have in Lewisham is fantastic, but people might not be aware of their contribution. We wanted to recognise this.”
The DeptfordFolk community won the Organisations and Businesses category for improving the lives of residents in Deptford in a “creative and imaginative” way. Millbank said the group provided “a great contribution to making Deptford a safer place”.
The mayor presented Pat Fordham MBE and David Cummins with a special award for Exceptional Contribution to Community Life in Lewisham for their work on the Phoenix Community Housing, a non-profit resident-led housing association.
Speaking to ELL, Fordham said: “This is not just a recognition for me, but for all the tenants.
“I receive this award, or gift if you will, for everyone who is no longer here.” he said. “No one thought we could achieve this, but we did. You learn from each other, you don’t get this far just by being there.”
Volunteers won awards for many contributions, including for gardening and for helping refugees and older, disabled people. Millbank said: “Any contribution makes Lewisham the great place it is.”
One of the sponsors of the event, Lewisham Homes, took part in choosing the winners of the special categories. Gavin Jones, head of communications for Lewisham Homes said: “There are so many people devoting so much time, sometimes their whole life, to helping other people. This price has a huge impact, so it was difficult to choose between different contributors.”
Jones called for the awards to continue to celebrate the work of volunteers in Lewisham.