Community workers who show “care and compassion” to support people in vulnerable and challenging times have been honoured by council leaders.
By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Islington’s mayor Marian Spall handed out civic awards on Tuesday 14th March to people who have served the community and the Ben Kinsella award went to teenager Charlie Bridgeman who supports other young people at Zone Youth Centre cafe in Holloway, overcame personal obstacles and fund-raised for the Macmillan coffee morning and is also a fire cadet.
The award is given to a young Islington resident in memory of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella who was stabbed to death in 2008.
Patrick Green, the CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust revealed that it will hold its first ever knife crime awareness week as “it’s all of our responsibility to tackle knife crime.”
Civic award winner Marie Williamson has worked at Solace refuge for 13 years supporting survivors of domestic abuse seeking refuge.
Solace supports more than 1,000 women and girls across London and Ms Williamson said: “It’s their courage and motivation to find their own life safe and free from fear that keeps us motivated to do what we do every day.”
The team of volunteers at the Hive Food Bank at St Mary’s Hornsey Rise have been helping people facing food poverty and acted as mutual aid hub through the pandemic.
Paul Badman from the Market Estate was honoured for his work supporting neighbours. His volunteering has included running a football team, cleaning residents’ windows for free and acting as a volunteer taxi service for neighbours in need.
He urged others to help out in their communities.
“If you care about something get involved and always be kind to people.”
Like other winners he said the award was “humbling”.
Hairdresser Sharon Hussein has helped people at The Cally for over 40 years. She was praised as “a vital community resource” who visits elderly residents and runs errands for them and is a good listener for people with mental health problems.
Janice Tucker, the founder of the Archway Town Centre Group, which works with local businesses, the police and the council also won an award.
She said: “I have lived in Archway all my life. It means an awful lot to me to see people living happily and safe.”
She has organised the festive lights switch-on and said that, after covid, it is crucial to support local businesses.
“Archway’s a community. It’s really nice to be recognised like this.”
Volunteers from Foodcycle based at the Andover estate in Finsbury Park were also honoured for their work making three-course meals for people to enjoy together.
One of the project leaders, Christopher Sim, said: “It’s been an honour to be able cook for these people and enjoy serving them and enjoy having a meal with them.”
During the pandemic they provided takeaway food and Mr Sim said it was a wonderful feeling to meet people again after two years.
Toni Parker is another resident honoured for her work running Pack Up – which has provided a free, weekly lunch at St James’ Church Hall for the last six years.
She said: “It’s such an amazing job feeding the community.”
Nicholas Crivello was also honoured for his work building “strong relationships” to support children and young people at Soapbox Youth Centre in Old Street.