Volunteer of the Year Awards

The Volunteer of the Year Awards took place in the Whitworth Hall on Tuesday 1 May and staff, students and alumni came together to recognise extraordinary volunteering contributions across a diverse range of projects.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice Chancellor, gave out the Awards. The overall winners in each category also received the University Medal for Social Responsibility, part of the suite of established President’s Distinguished Achievement Awards.

Alumni winner – Michelle McHale

BA (Hons) applied Community and Youth Work Studies 2009

In 2014 Michelle set up a community-led outreach project aimed at reducing knife crime. Working with police forces across the UK, the anti-knife initiative has removed over 100,000 knives from our communities. The knives were used to create a knife angel sculpture to form a permanent reminder of those who have been injured or lost their life due to a knife. Alongside the campaign Michelle has worked with young people affected by knife crime, creating educational drama and tools to help others understand the dangers and consequences. These young people have become anti-knife ambassadors, attending events locally and nationally to raise the profile of the work. Michelle takes on numerous other roles including running a foodbank and supporting families through education hearings.

Student winner – Charlotte Auty

School of Medical Sciences

Charlotte is the President of Manchester Outreach Medics (MOMs), a student society that supports young people from deprived backgrounds to get the knowledge and skills required to successfully apply for medical school. Charlotte has developed new branches of the service, which gives students one to one mentoring throughout their application. The work of MOMS is readdressing the imbalance in medicine, which will help to improve the healthcare of deprived areas in the future.

Staff winner – Dr Sean Pert

School of Health Sciences

Sean gives his time and expertise to develop and provide voice and communication workshops to the trans and non-binary community, in partnership with the LGBT Foundation. He has trained student volunteers who are studying speech and language therapy to support him in delivering workshops. The service allows participants to start changing their voice safely to more closely match their gender identity, which is hard to access via the NHS and very expensive if undertaken privately. The workshops have shown to increase the confidence and self-esteem of participants, as it allows them to achieve the gender perception of their voice that matches their identity, therefore helping them live a more authentic life.

Watch the videos of the winners:

Volunteer of the Year Awards

The annual Volunteer of the Year Awards took place in the Whitworth Hall on 11th May, attended by over 170 guests.

The awards, which are now in their seventh year, recognise the outstanding achievement of students, staff and alumni who give their personal time and energy to undertaking public engagement work or volunteering with disadvantaged groups in the community.

The volunteering undertaken by nominees was wide-ranging including within health, with children and vulnerable adults, and community cohesion projects. The volunteering took place locally, nationally and internationally including in Indonesia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Afghanistan and Tanzania. Certificates for all commended and highly commended nominees were given out by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice Chancellor.

The overall winners in each category also received the University Medal for Social Responsibility, part of the suite of established President’s Distinguished Achievement Awards. First, second and third places also receive a donation to support the organisations where they volunteer.

This year’s winners were: Student Category: Sarah Brown from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. Sarah is this year’s Chair of Student Action as well as running her own Student Action project for adults with learning difficulties, being involved with the Life Foundation which supports people living in the care system in Romania; Retrak, which works with children living on the streets and is also a trained Dementia Friend Champion.

Staff Category: Kirsty Keywood, School of Law. Kirsty has volunteered for more than two decades. She advocates for the rights of people with learning difficulties and mental health problems in a number of ways including having volunteered as an appropriate adult for Greater Manchester Police and supporting the development of services of the Manchester People First charity.

Alumni Category: John Norgrove, BSc (T) Hons Civil Engineering 1971. Alongside his wife, John he set up the Linda Norgrove Foundation, following the tragic death of his daughter Linda who had been working in Afghanistan. The foundation which John runs day to day, provides support to a range of small-scale community projects in Afghanistan focusing on the most vulnerable in a post-conflict State. Full information on all the winners including videos about their work can be found on the Volunteering website.