Winners of the Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards 2018

All winners

They are the people who give up hundreds of hours of their time
every year for no reward except to make the lives of others

Among the winners of the Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards this
year are an 80-year-old woman tackling strenuous physical tasks at
wildlife reserves, a teenager helping in the fight against modern
slavery and human trafficking, and a Red Cross volunteer who
‘dropped everything’ to rush to the Grenfell Tower fire scene.

The presentation of the awards run by WCVA will take place at
2pm today, Wednesday 13 June, at The Cornerstone in
Cardiff, with the ceremony hosted by WCVA Vice President
Tom Jones and Chief Executive Ruth Marks.

A total of 21 winners in the six nomination categories of
adults, young people (under 25 years), groups, green volunteers,
digital volunteers and trustees are being presented with awards to
mark their fantastic contributions.

‘Wales is famous for being a welcoming nation, and we’re
increasingly acknowledged for our willingness to help others for no
personal gain,’ said Ruth Marks.

‘WCVA is very proud of our seemingly endless supply of amazing
volunteers and our awards programme is a fitting opportunity for us
to show our gratitude in front of a national audience.’


Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards 2018 – the winners

Adult category (25 years and over)

Glenys Benford-Lewis

Glenys Benford-Lewis

Glenys Benford-Lewis has helped hundreds of people ‘find their
new way in the world’ following the loss of their loved

Glenys, 60, of Pontardawe, has volunteered with Cruse Morgannwg
since 2007 as a trainer, bereavement volunteer, supervisor,
management committee member and unofficial ‘ethical

Following her initial training as an adult bereavement volunteer
she trained to help children and championed the need for them to
get good bereavement support to enable them to carry on and lead
productive lives and engage with education. 

‘Glenys has worked with people who have experienced multiple
suicides, had family members who have been murdered and supported
the elderly in intense grief when they have lost their partner
after 60 years of marriage,’ said Cruse Bereavement Care Morgannwg
Area Coordinator Susan Richards-Hoskin. 

‘Many weeks she has worked all day, taken phone calls in the
evening and trained new volunteers at the weekends. We have many
volunteers who go the extra mile, but Glenys goes the extra mile
and another one on top. 

‘Without Glenys, many adults would not have found their new way
into the world, would not have restored themselves back to what
they perceive as some kind of normality and rebuilt their


Laura Kilvington

Laura Kilvington

Laura Kilvington is supporting hundreds of people to cope with
mental health problems while also reducing the stigma attached to
the condition.

The 27-year-old volunteers as Community Writer with Taff Housing
Association, meeting members of its community groups to find out
what issues they face. She then researches the issues and writes
case studies for articles published across a range of Taff Housing
media streams and on her blog, ‘Picture the Positive’.

‘Laura’s main focus is on reducing the stigma surrounding mental
health, particularly Bipolar, and the impact it has on
relationships, friendships and employment,’ said Housing
Association Community Investment Officer Clare Dickinson.

Laura from Fairwater, Cardiff, talks openly about mental health
in relation to motherhood, body image and the importance of
self-care. Her articles not only help reduce stigma but also show
others that they are not alone.

‘The mental health awareness project Laura is involved with will
have a lasting impact on the community,’ Clare added. ‘One in four
of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives.
It is therefore important that employers take steps to promote
positive mental health and support not only tenants and local
residents experiencing poor mental ill health but staff too.

‘Laura recently did a talk as part of mental health awareness
week. The talk was attended by a mix of staff, fellow volunteers
and community members. Laura is an inspirational young person who
is a role model to others – her dedication deserves


Robert Clapham

Robert Clapham

Without the volunteering of Robert Clapham, thousands of young
people in Neath Port Talbot would not have had benefitted from
taking part in life-changing activities. 

Rob, 72, of Pontardawe, pioneered the formation of Glantawe
Outdoor Education Academy while also ‘almost single-handedly’
running Riverside Community Park – of which he is Secretary – doing
everything from clearance of overgrown areas to cutting the grass,
cleaning and maintaining the centre. 

The 25-acre park is used by thousands of people every year and
also provides programmes for disengaged, disadvantaged people and
groups to volunteer, gain practical skills and improve their
personal wellbeing. 

Although it is open to everyone, the focus is primarily on
people living with mental illness, people who find it difficult to
get work experience because they have a prison record, and those in
need of practical and social skill interventions.  

‘Rob raised finance to purchase equipment and provide employment
to the team who run programmes in the park, allowing his own
business to deteriorate to ensure the project’s success,’ said
fellow volunteer Suzanne Chapple. 

‘He continues to work tirelessly to further the interest of the
charity and we feel that without his drive and sheer number of
years, days and hours spent on the project, neither the academy nor
the park would exist in their current form – certainly many young
people would not have had the benefit of life-changing


Lorraine Smith

Lorraine Smith

Lorraine Smith was one of the first British Red Cross volunteers
from Wales to travel to help out at the Grenfell Tower fire,
‘dropping everything’ to be on the first train to London. 

The team leader with the Red Cross’s Emergency Response service
in South East Wales worked in the Grenfell Tower community
assistance centre, helping people displaced by the fire to access
services and support. 

She later returned to help with the relief effort again, this
time working in an NHS outreach team, going around the estates
surrounding the tower, knocking on doors to offer support to
residents. Most of the people she spoke to told her it was the
first offer of support they had had. 

‘Lorraine is trained in how to speak to people who have recently
been though trauma,’ said Red Cross Service Manager Vern Cornish.
‘This helps her give emotional support, which can range from
offering a cup of tea and a friendly ear to helping guide people to
decisions about what to do next and how to start putting their
lives back together.’

As well as her emergency response role, Lorraine, 63, of Penarth
is an Emergency Response trainer delivering Continuing Professional
Development sessions across Wales, and a tutor on the British Red
Cross foundation programme, the entry level for all new volunteers
and staff across the UK. 

‘During the response to Grenfell Tower it became clear that more
volunteers were needed on the ground urgently,’ Vern Cornish added.
‘Lorraine was called at around 8pm on Saturday night and dropped
everything to be on the first train to London the next

‘Lorraine’s passion for supporting people was absolutely clear
in the Grenfell response. She made sure people got the help and
support they needed and that they felt cared for and listened to
when they came to the centre. Her dedication really made a
difference to a lot of people who were going through the hardest of


Fay Jones MBE

Fay Jones MBE

The exceptional voluntary contribution made by Frances ‘Fay’
Jones is helping people across North Wales with sight loss to enjoy
books, knitting and socialising. 

Since being diagnosed with Macular Degeneration and helped by
RNIB Cymru (Royal National Institute of Blind People) eye clinic
liaison officer at Ysbyty Gwynedd, the 76-year-old has spent the
past 12 years tirelessly volunteering with, fundraising for and
championing the needs of other blind and partially sighted

Registered blind, Fay from Holyhead is hugely passionate about
RNIB. She credits the charity with giving her back her life after
her own diagnosis and felt she wanted to give something in

She was instrumental in setting up a unique initiative on
Anglesey, the RNIB Cymru Listening Books Group, which involves
people with sight loss getting together to read books and chat
about them. 

The success of the group in Holyhead has led to Fay setting up
groups in Menai Bridge with plans to start two more bilingual
groups on Anglesey. The Welsh Libraries service now plans to work
with Fay to roll them out across North Wales libraries into Gwynedd
and Conwy. 

Fay has also started ‘Knit and Natter’ groups where people can
get together to socialise while knitting to raise money for

‘Fay has made such a difference to so many people’s lives and
believes that it is as much about books as it is socialising,’ said
Ansley Workman from RNIB Cymru.  ‘Many people with sight loss
are at risk of feeling isolated, which is why initiatives such as
Fay’s are so important. 

‘Fay is an exceptional individual, very warm and caring. She
also received an MBE for her work in fundraising for Ysbyty Gwynedd
before her own sight loss diagnosis.’ 

‘We’re so grateful for Fay’s commitment which helps us support
the 107,000 people with sight loss in Wales.’


Young volunteer (under 25 years)

Elizabeth Haven

Elizabeth Haven

At the age of just 17, Elizabeth Haven is helping people learn
about modern slavery and human trafficking and the work being done
to combat it across North Wales. 

Elizabeth, from Conwy, takes part in a range of volunteering
activity, including with local scout groups – she is currently
completing her Queen Scout Award – coaching a youth netball team
and working towards her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. 

An accredited Young Trustee, she is currently volunteering at
Haven of Light CIC in Colwyn Bay, which aims to prevent, raise
awareness of and provide support for survivors of modern slavery
and human trafficking in North Wales. 

‘Elizabeth has raised awareness with many citizens of all ages
about the signs of slavery, the effects it is having, and the work
being done within North Wales,’ said Ali Ussery, Director and
Project Coordinator with Haven of Light. 

‘She has shown passion and commitment to all her volunteering
opportunities, is a credit and excellent example of a proactive
young volunteer and an excellent role model to other young people
who say they don’t have time to volunteer,’ Alison added. 

‘We were informed by the Scouts that Elizabeth is the most
mature, grounded, intelligent teenager they have ever met. If
anyone wants to reaffirm their faith that the future of the world
is safe with the youth of today, introduce them to Elizabeth.’


Alex Williams

Alex Williams

Alex Williams’ volunteering with a cancer charity has had an
‘astounding’ impact on its work, raising more than £4,000 for vital
equipment and attracting new recruits as the face of a national

The 23-year-old from Maesteg has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro,
carried out a skydive and donated ‘countless hours’ to Tenovus
Cancer Care – all while working full-time and caring for both of
his parents. 

He reached the top of Kilimanjaro, despite ‘horrendous’ weather
conditions. Some of the money he raised was used to fund telephony
nurses, who are available to give help and advice around the clock.
It has also funded benefits support workers. 

‘The money goes towards literally bringing treatment to
patients’ communities,’ said Alex’s friend Gemma Richards. ‘It’s no
secret that some cancer patients have to travel miles for
treatment, but Tenovus brings it to them in the form of their
high-tech mobile unit, which is kitted out with state-of-the-art
technology, allowing nurses to administer chemotherapy.’ 

Alex is qualified to advise people how to stop smoking and puts
on sun awareness courses to show the dangers of not using
sunscreen. A poster with his face on was displayed in every Tenovus
shop in England and Wales to encourage more people to

‘His impact on Tenovus has been astounding,’ Gemma added. ‘He’s
a carer to his mother and father, and to do all the errands for
them – while working full-time and committing himself to helping
cancer patients and their loved ones – truly shows him as an
exceptional example to people.’


Luke Morgan

Luke Morgan

Luke Morgan has helped bring ‘great joy and happiness’ to the
lives of thousands of unwell children, most of them

Through his ‘Make a Smile’ volunteering project, set up in 2017,
Luke’s Cardiff University student colleagues dress up as well-known
characters and visit children to interact and play games with

‘His idea was driven by his belief that every child deserves a
happy childhood and that, sadly, some children who are hospitalised
or face other hardships miss out on this,’ said John Steele of
Cardiff University Students’ Union. 

The project has provided rewarding volunteering opportunities
for almost 200 young people, developing their confidence and
providing them with new skills and opportunities to give something
back to their local community. 

So far, the group has visited more than 3,000 children and
volunteered over 1,000 hours, ‘lighting up children’s faces and
bringing a little joy to their lives to help them forget about
their afflictions’, John Steele added. 

Luke, 21, dresses up regularly as Peter Pan – the boy who never
grew up – encouraging children to use their imagination and embrace
their childhood by creating games around pirates and treasure

‘His actions have brought great joy and happiness to the lives
of hundreds of sick children in the locality, literally making them
smile and forget about their illness for a moment in time,’ said


Geri Escott

Geri Escott

‘Outstanding’ teenage volunteer Geri Escott has taken
responsibility for organising inter-generational activities in a
rural village, bringing together young and older people. 

‘She reaches out from her youth club to the wider community to
the pensioners’ group, to the churchgoers, to parents of young
children…and is an outstanding ambassador both for the club and the
younger generation,’ said Youth Club Leader Conway

Every week, Geri makes an hour-round bus trip from her home in
Llantwit Major to Wick Youth Club in the Vale of Glamorgan, where
she helps with paperwork and supports members in arts and craft and
sports activities. She also helps run the tuck shop. 

Recently, a fellow volunteer died in tragic circumstances and
Geri applied for a grant to fund a mini local volunteering award in
his memory. Called Harry’s Blue Sky Awards, it will be presented
each year to one young volunteer. 

Geri has taken over running a Christmas Dinner for local
pensioners and a Halloween party for children and pensioners. ‘In
fact, there are no club activities over the past three years that
Geri has not been at the heart of,’ Conway added. 

‘Geri plays a major role in keeping the club running and has
become central to all that we do. In particular she has played a
major role in improving relationships between young and not so
young in the village. She is inspirational.’ 


‘Green’ volunteer (individual of any age who volunteers
with an environmental organisation or project)

Sam Adams

Sam Adams

Sam Adams is motivating disaffected young people to gain skills
and qualifications while working on a scheme aimed at tackling
climate change through building a ‘unique’ community

The 22-year-old of Trallwn, Swansea, has volunteered for the
past three years with the Gower-based Down to Earth Project, a
social enterprise offering training programmes for young people and
adults from disadvantaged backgrounds in traditional and natural
building methods. 

As part of the project’s Building Sustainable Communities
initiative, Sam helped in the construction of a sustainable
training centre, using a range of sustainable building methods
including straw bale construction, larch cladding, sheep wool
insulation, clay plastering, lime rendering and green roof

He is currently part of the Murton volunteering team which
completes a variety of tasks each month including land management,
woodland management, animal husbandry and organic and sustainable
food production.

‘Building Sustainable Communities is already having societal,
economic and huge environmental impact through a solutions-based
approach to tackling climate change with the people who will be
most impacted by it – the most impoverished and marginalised young
people,’ said Kate Denner, Down to Earth Project Group

‘When Sam first joined our volunteering team, he lacked
confidence and struggled with social situations,’ she added. ‘He
has grown into a confident young man, capable of expressing
himself, joining in with social situations, and able to make
presentations to other volunteers, participants, and funders. He
has a great work ethic, is focused, and trustworthy. 

‘He has become a valued and well-loved member of our team; a
true asset to our organisation. His smile and his enthusiasm are
contagious and have helped motivate other young people to get
involved in their community. We cannot think of anyone more
deserving than Sam to receive the accolade of Volunteer of the


Bronwen Jenkins

Bronwen Jenkins

At almost 81 years old, Bronwen Jenkins works at nature reserves
across Radnorshire, carrying out strenuous physical tasks including
fencing, coppicing, cutting bracken, hoeing thistles and clearing

‘As a woman of very mature years, Bronwen demonstrates that age
is no barrier to contributing fully to the community,’ said Chair
of Radnorshire Wildlife Trust (RWT) Chris Ledbury. 

Having begun volunteering with the Trust almost 30 years ago in
1989, Bronwen is an expert botanist who leads wildflower walks on
the reserves, has taken part in a series of flora and fauna surveys
and established a wildlife-friendly community garden in her home
village of Builth Road near Builth Wells. 

She is also a member of a group of textile artists and
specialises in machine embroidery. An exhibition of textile art
that she organised at RWT’s flagship nature reserve Gilfach ‘opened
many people’s eyes to the wonders of nature and brought a large
number of people to the reserve for the first time’. 

Chris Ledbury added: ‘It’s unusual for someone to be equally
competent and enthusiastic in practical conservation work,
scientific understanding and artistic interpretation. Bronwen’s
volunteering embraces all three. 

‘She is always willing to help in many other ways – distributing
newsletters, helping to organise visits, standing in at short
notice when help is needed – a true powerhouse despite her


Edgar Llewellyn

Edgar Llewellyn

Edgar Llewellyn volunteers six days a week every week, helping
people in poverty or on low incomes to benefit from recycled
furniture and other household items. 

The 53-year-old of Tylorstown, Rhondda, volunteers in re-use and
recycling charity toogoodtowaste’s transport and warehouse
sections, which collect and deliver the items donated or sold
through its showrooms. 

‘As the main part of a team that collected over 87,000 items
during 2017, Edgar is an integral team member and has become our
reuse champion, seeing the benefits of reuse on all aspects –
social, environmental and financial,’ said toogoodtowaste Manager
Shaun England. 

‘Edgar has been unemployed for a number of years and lives in
one of the most deprived wards in Rhondda Cynon Taf, so he sees
poverty and the need for the essential service that toogoodtowaste
can offer on his doorstep, every day,’ Shaun added.  

‘Edgar is a great ambassador for toogoodtowaste and mentors new
volunteers, sharing his life story to help put people at ease, or
to help others who are struggling with life and come to
volunteering as a way to help them focus and find purpose – or even
find the skills – to gain employment. 

‘Edgar is the most humble person I have ever met, never taking
praise for things that he has achieved, always supporting and
wanting to help everyone have the chances and opportunities he has
had since joining the organisation.’



Nerys Edmonds

Nerys Edmonds

The ‘amazing’ work of its chair of trustees has prevented the
closure of a project helping disadvantaged people overcome
depression, learn new skills, and contribute to the local

At the beginning of 2017, Swansea Community Farm had been unable
to secure enough funding to meet its budget and reserves were
quickly running out. Nerys Edmonds, who had recently become chair
of the board, ‘became critical to the survival of the

The financial situation required a staff restructure and the
redundancy of the post of director. Nerys stepped in and has
since been leading the staff team, fundraising, developing
partnerships and ensuring effective working practices. 

The farm – which has a range of rare breed farm animals,
allotments, wildlife areas, training space and a café – is in one
of the most deprived wards in Wales, said colleague Ruth

It exists to improve health and wellbeing, build skills and
increase social inclusion, every year providing volunteering
opportunities, training, play activities, community events and
school workshops. 

Nerys, 45, volunteered over 300 hours in 2017 – even helping to
feed the animals on a Sunday – alongside working in her own paid
job in public health and bringing up a young family. 

‘The people the farm helps range from eight to 80 years old,’
Ruth Domoney added. ‘Many live in poverty and face multiple
disadvantages including long term unemployment, food poverty,
physical and mental health issues, disabilities and social
isolation. The breadth of the contribution Nerys makes is


Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle

‘One in a million’ Peter Mayle has been pivotal to the
development of a Cardiff charity working to improve the lives of
hundreds of people affected by acquired brain injury. 

Peter, 71, of Llantwit Major joined Headway Cardiff & South
East Wales as a trustee after his son sustained a serious brain
injury in 1992, and has been treasurer since 1997. 

Headway was set up to support patients discharged from Rookwood
Hospital and Peter also volunteers in its Independence and
Wellbeing Centre, based at the hospital. 

‘Pete has first-hand experience of the difficulties encountered
by survivors and their families and this is evident in the way he
is able to relate to our service users and his dedication to the
organisation as a whole,’ said Volunteer Coordinator Kathryn

‘He provides crucial support, advice and management and focuses
especially on finance and HR,’ she added. ‘He is present at
fundraising events, training days and meetings and is always ready
to help and assist staff members when we need him. 

‘We really feel that Pete is one in a million. He gives so much
and invests so heavily in our organisation, dedicating his time to
gain a complete and deep understanding.  By doing this, he has
become so well-known and much loved by everyone here at Headway
that we wouldn’t know what to do without him.’


Dr Elinor Kapp

Dr Elinor Knapp

A retired psychiatric consultant’s dedication to her role as
trustee at a Cardiff hospice has helped ensure it consistently
provides a world-class standard of specialist home-based palliative

81-year-old Dr Elinor Kapp became a trustee of George Thomas
Hospice Care on its foundation in 1984, contributing her clinical
knowledge as a consultant in child and adolescent psychiatry and
her experience in achieving high standards of care in a clinical

She continued in the role beyond her retirement after 50 years
service to the NHS, seeing the charity adopt its new identity as
City Hospice in 2017.  

In the past year, a record total of 750 new patients with
incurable illnesses were referred to the hospice. 

The Clinical Governance Committee chaired by Dr Kapp since 1984
is charged with overseeing the quality and standard of care
provided by City Hospice’s clinical team, and ensuring it provides
a world-class standard of palliative care, working collaboratively
with colleagues in primary and secondary care.  

‘She has offered the board sound advice on all clinical matters,
and her judgement and wise counsel has proved particularly valuable
on the rare occasions when the continuity of the service might have
been under threat, or in arguing for investment in the clinical
service on grounds of increasing demand or enhancing quality, or
both,’ said Chief Executive Mike Walsh. 

‘She balances diplomacy with humour and a sound understanding of
medicine, people and the complexities of providing palliative and
end of life care to patients in their own homes and living with
their families. 

‘Nothing is ever too much trouble and her commitment to her role
in time, energy and enthusiasm has been and continues to be


Groups (two or more individuals, whether as an informal
group or a formally constituted organisation)

Cardiff University Student Safety Walk Scheme

Safety Walk Scheme

Cardiff city centre has become a safer place at night due to a
student ‘patrol’ group looking to help vulnerable people. 

The Student Safety Walk Scheme was launched in 2016 following a
spate of sexual assaults near the University buildings during 2015
freshers’ week.  

A group of students led by Alastair Babington, a first year
bio-science student, approached Cardiff Volunteering with the idea
of a project involving student volunteers patrolling the area
around the University on Wednesday and Saturday evenings between
10pm and 3am. 

They would help students and other people who were alone and
vulnerable, lost or disorientated or intoxicated and unwell. This
would include providing them with water/appropriate
footwear/assistance to a safe place – such as the Students’ Union
or University Halls – or referring them to the Students’ Safety Bus
or police if necessary. 

All the volunteers receive training in Basic First Aid and
Conflict Resolution. Almost 400 students and non-students have been
supported since the launch of the scheme. 

‘This group of students – led this year by two student lead
volunteers Geoff and Petar – are loyal, committed and completely
community spirited,’ said Sean Hoare of Cardiff University
Enterprise. ‘They turn up to volunteer twice a week, giving up
their own time at very unsociable hours to help others. 

‘They are a credit to themselves, Cardiff Volunteering, the
Students’ Union and the University and I believe that what they
have achieved, and how the project has gone from strength to
strength since its small beginnings, is inspirational.’


Young, Migrant and Welsh Project

Young Migrant Welsh

A group of 24 young black, Asian and minority ethnic volunteers
in Swansea is ‘bravely and creatively’ challenging racism,
far-right extremism and Islamophobia. 

The Young, Migrant and Welsh project run by Ethnic Youth Support
Team (EYST) Wales and funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), was
set up for young people who have migrated alone – or with their
families – to Wales, either as asylum-seekers or refugees, as
economic migrants, or as second or third generation

The volunteers have been trained by staff at the Waterfront
Museum in Swansea in research and interview skills and in archiving
material for future generations. They then designed a unique
exhibition for the museum showcasing who they were and challenging
stereotypes around young people, ethnicity, religion and gender.
They also featured in their own film exploring themes of heritage,
identity and experiences of growing up in Wales. 

‘The project has brought people together to form a strong unit
of ambassadors who through their experiences will champion the
message of tolerance and inclusion within their own grassroots
communities,’ said local resident Adebowale Omole. 

‘This group deserves recognition because they are bravely,
creatively and relentless standing up to face the prejudices
threatening the fabric of our community. 

‘Through their targeted approach, they are challenging racism,
far-right extremism, and Islamophobia at the grassroots level and
doing their best with limited resources to stop the spread of
negative narratives about being different.’


Penparcau Community Forum

Penparcau Community Forum

A charity set up following the end of the Communities First
programme is continuing to make life better for residents of the
largest disadvantaged area of Ceredigion.

Penparcau village near Aberystwyth is primarily made up of a
large housing estate with around 3,200 residents, including 800
young people, 40% of whom live in poverty.

Penparcau Community Forum was formed – after Communities First
funding was withdrawn in 2013 – with the aim of developing
sustainable and inclusive activities and facilities for the benefit
of all.

Since then, the Forum has secured a total £1.2m to build a
community centre which houses a café, training kitchen, youth zone,
training room and changing facilities, all of which are aimed at
upskilling young people and families.   

The Forum also runs a food co-op and much-needed foodbank with
surplus food from local supermarkets given out to residents every
Saturday. The group’s Youth Forum runs a year-round programme of
activities and events for children and young people, while the Hub
also hosts a dance school and Bounce Fit, and courses and workshops
for various ages and groups. 

‘Penparcau Forum is held up by many as an excellent example to
other communities and especially as a resilient community,’ said
Debra Croft of Aberystwyth University. 

‘It really does stand out as a forum where the volunteers use
all the skills available to them to make life better for the wider
community. As well as developing training and skills, they look at
the wider picture of wellbeing, including environmental, health,
safety and finance initiatives.’ 


Mind Matters

Mind Matters

Almost 1,000 young people living in the South Wales valleys have
more of a sense of belonging to their communities after taking part
in a wellbeing initiative. 

Mind Matters is a mental health and positive wellbeing project
for young people aged 14-25 living in Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent,
which recruited and trained volunteers to deliver 45 peer-led

They also set up a ‘feel good’ group for people with low-level
mental health issues such as anxiety or problems with peer
pressure. As well as sharing self-help strategies with their peers,
they took part in sports activities they would not have had the
confidence to previously. 

‘All the young people have increased mental resilience due to
greater awareness of how to look after their mental wellbeing and
what support is available,’ said David Williams of partner
organisation Torfaen Youth Service. 

‘Over 95% of the volunteers stated that they now feel more of a
sense of belonging to their community by gaining more local
knowledge of support and services available to them and via the new
connections developed with their peers,’ he added.

‘The project also had an impact on the wider community,
especially on the families of the young people who have gained
knowledge and fed this indirect support back into the family

‘Mind Matters is an excellent example of outstanding youth
volunteering work through embedding the key purpose of youth work
throughout its approach and delivery.’


‘Digital’ volunteer (an individual who has helped tackle
digital exclusion and helped others to experience the benefits of
using ICT) supported by Digital Communities Wales

Mohan Patel

Mohan Patel

Mohan Patel is opening up the world to vulnerable adults
recovering from drug and alcohol misuse by helping them become more
at ease with new technology. 

The 60-year-old from Grangetown, Cardiff, volunteers with
several Recovery Cymru groups and has set up his own supporting
members to use email, social media, PCs, laptops, mobile phones and

The project is helping people to grow and learn, keeping them in
touch with family and friends and allowing them to access online
recovery resources and shopping, said Andrew Sims of Recovery

‘Mohan is so easy to learn from, willing to share so humbly such
valuable knowledge which makes such a significant difference to the
lives of our members, their friends, families and loved ones,’
Andrew added. 

‘People will accept his help because his attitude is “If I can
master it, you can”.  It opens up a whole new world of
possibilities some of our members believe are the preserve of

‘He is a real enabler, helping to make vulnerable adults in
recovery more tech-savvy and offering them a bigger world.’


Martin Hunt

Martin Hunt

Residents of a North Wales village are overcoming some of the
difficulties of rural living thanks to the IT skills and patience
of Martin Hunt. 

The volunteer Digital Champion runs a digital drop-in session at
the library in Penygroes, Caernarfon, every Friday afternoon and
also makes himself available on alternative days for people who
can’t get there on Fridays. 

‘In a tight knit community like Penygroes, having an asset like
Martin available is a tremendous boon,’ said Daniel Richards of
Gwynedd Ddigidol. ‘As with most villages in Wales, Penygroes has
seen the loss of local services such as banks and shops, which –
along with rising travel costs – makes rural living very difficult
unless the internet is utilised. 

‘Martin has the special ability of being able to talk with
people, and explain technical details in a language they
understand, without scaring them away with too much information,’
Daniel added. 

‘He has a wonderful patience with people, with one senior
attendee who started coming over a year ago gradually moving on
from simply calling in to use Google maps, to using e-mail – and
now transferring her father’s war diary to an electronic

Martin, 64, worked on a number of digital projects while in
employment. Having had to retire early on medical grounds, he gets
great enjoyment from helping others and giving guidance using his
years of experience. 

Daniel concluded: ‘I have managed a number of volunteers in the
digital field over the past few years, and the majority have been a
great boon to helping others. But I have never before come across
such a passionate and skilled volunteer as Martin.’

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