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Volunteer Celebration Awards 2022

OCVA is delighted to have hosted a volunteer celebration event on Wednesday June 1st 2022 to recognise the achievements of volunteers across the County.





Young Volunteer of the Year: 

Priyanka Jha,

The Archway Foundation

The Archway Foundation signed up to the Oxford Hub’s Young Trustee Scheme and we were fortunate to have Priyanka join our Board in November 2019. Priyanka brings a young adult’s perspective to the Board discussions and has been pro-active in volunteering to be part of a number of working groups and she now chairs a group looking at Corporate Engagement.

Priyanka shows a depth of understanding and wise insight into the needs of beneficiaries of the charity and of charity governance. She is an asset to the Archway Foundation.

Priyanka continues to make a difference to the charity and its work through her energy, positivity, “can do” approach and view of the world through the eyes of a young adult, ensuring our services remain relevant to the needs of all age groups. Within the UK charity sector as a whole, the average mean age of a charity trustee is 57. Two-thirds of charity trustees are aged 50 or over. Out of a total of over 810,000 trustees, just over 4,200 trustees are aged 18-24. Priyanka is an outstanding role model as a trustee and as a young adult. Every charity should have a Priyanka!

Priyanka Jha picture

Long Service Volunteer of the Year: 

Ken Birch,

Volunteer Link Up

Volunteer Link Up recruits volunteer drivers, befrienders and others for practical tasks like shopping and gardening to help people of any age and ability in West Oxfordshire. Ken registered with us in 1985 and since then he has been active and involved in all our projects with only a few gaps of very short duration in his volunteering. Initially he mowed lawns and tidied gardens for people who could not do this for themselves. However, since 1990 he has concentrated on driving and shopping for people. These drives have been to day centres, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, podiatry appointments, special schools and other places. Ken has always been willing to help if he can and never minds being called. He is utterly reliable and dependable. We knew that people would be well looked after with him when we arranged a drive. People appreciated his quiet manner, friendliness and unflappability.

As he was happy to take on regular transport or shopping commitments he saved us a great deal of time ringing people every week to find a volunteer. He is always willing to bang the drum for VLU and helped on stalls at the trade fairs and with any recruitment campaigns. Ken has been a valuable asset to Volunteer Link Up!

Ken Birch picture

Management of Volunteers: 

The Sweatbox


The Sweatbox is a very successful youth centre in Wantage that due to its popularity with young people and valued status in the local community has survived the decimating funding cuts to youth services which has seen so many youth centres close.

The Sweatbox host 4 weekly sessions for young people, 2 are open access and 2 are invitation only focused groups, which are for young carers and SEND young people from local schools for children with additional needs. Weekly engagement regularly exceeds 120 young people across all sessions.

They currently have a team of 32 young people, known as Squidgers and SU (Sweatbox Union), who volunteer to run sessions and attend regular meetings with the youth work team to help shape how the sessions and the youth centre as a whole is run.

They also have a team of 15+ adult Volunteer Youth Support Workers which support the staff in providing these services for all members that attend the Sweatbox Youth Centre.

The Sweatbox picture

Volunteer of the Year

Sam Shiell, 

Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support


Sam’s first interaction with OBS was as a service user in 2015. Seeking help with breastfeeding her newborn daughter, she attended her local drop-in in Rose Hill, where she found the support she needed. She became a familiar and friendly face at these sessions, chatting with other parents and offering them encouragement (and plentiful tea and cake). ‘You don’t need to have a problem to come back next week’, she would say to them. And quite often, they did come back. The following year, she formally completed OBS’ in-house peer supporter training programme, and began volunteering at other OBS venues across the city.

Sensing that OBS’ pump hire system needed to become more efficient, and scaled up in a way that was sustainable, she offered to take responsibility for storing and cleaning parts – and eventually, took on almost the entire administrative workload. During the covid-19 pandemic, our pump loan system continued to operate, and Sam – with her messages, check-ins, and occasional Zoom support for service users – was a welcome presence at an often-difficult time for new parents.

Sam’s time at OBS thus far has been underpinned by strong relationships – with other volunteers, facilitators and even service users. It has not been without its challenges. Our covid risk assessment policy does not yet permit volunteers to attend sessions with their young children, which means that Sam is unable to resume volunteering in-person just yet. It is testament to her commitment that she continues to tirelessly manage the pump loan service in the meantime.

In OBS volunteering circles, Sam is referred to as the ‘Pump Queen’. It’s not a label she would in any seriousness ascribe to herself, for she is nothing if not self-effacing. But we as a charity are keenly aware of the value that she brings to our mission: educating and empowering Oxfordshire families to achieve their feeding goals. We prize Sam’s hard work, diligence and kindness with service users.

Sam Shiell picture

Team Oxford Corporate Volunteering Award

CETA Software 



Team Oxford set up a partnership with CETA, a software development company based in Witney, Oxfordshire. They provide voluntary IT support to local charities/voluntary groups for small one-off requests. This includes:

Are you struggling to get to grips with a piece of software? Is your laptop giving you more headaches than help? Are you finding it hard to get to grips with online meeting applications? Perhaps your website needs a small alteration to improve its functionality?

CETA have provided this service since September 2021 to charities/voluntary groups.

Hannah Mackie from Team Oxford receiving the award on behalf of CETA
ceta logo
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