Sunderland College Health and Social Care student, Olivia Shepard, has been named Young Volunteer of The Year after being nominated by children’s charity Love, Amelia.
The VCAS (Voluntary & Community Action Sunderland) Open Arms Awards celebrate the fantastic work taking place within Sunderland’s voluntary sector which has an impact on the local community. There are 22 awards in total broken down into 11 categories for small and large charitable organisations.
The award nominations are shortlisted by a panel of respected leaders across Sunderland’s voluntary sector and finalists are then voted for by the community.
Olivia received the award earlier this month at Sunderland Minster – a remarkable achievement as she volunteered whilst also completing her full-time college course, working a part-time job, and supporting a younger sibling.
She said: “I enjoined every minute of this placement. They welcomed me with open arms and truly are the best people.
“I will always try and make time to go and volunteer there. What they do is amazing, and you see the impact you have with your own eyes which is so rewarding.”
Olivia joined Love, Amelia to complete a placement for her Health and Social Care course but gave up many more hours of her free time at the weekend to help collect donations and put together donation boxes – gaining confidence and getting involved in many aspects of the charity, challenging herself and continuing her learning.
Programme Lead for Health and Social Care, Laura Athey said: “This is a fantastic demonstration of everything our health and social care department is about. Olivia has gone above and beyond to help families in need.
“I am so proud of Olivia. She often used to come and tell me stories of all the wonderful things she was doing with Love, Amelia and it was wonderful to see such passion and care from one of our students. She will be a fantastic addition to the health and social care sector when she leaves the college this year.”
Volunteers are the backbone of the voluntary sector, and these awards acknowledge the significant contribution of volunteers.
Steph Capewell, Chief Executive at Love, Amelia said: “I nominated Olivia in the Young Volunteer of the Year category following her involvement with our charity over the last year. Olivia is an inspirational person with a great work ethic, and I was proud to nominate her for her efforts.
“This specific award recognises the commitment and impact of individuals, under the age of 21, who act as volunteers within the City of Sunderland.
“Olivia is a star, but this award recognises her contributions and celebrates the impact she has made.”
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