Care Volunteer Award Nominees

Candy Nicholson – Pathway Kitchen Leeds
Despite raising five children and being the main carer for her 33 year old daughter who is living with both Cerebral Palsy and Williams Syndrome, Candy started caring for the homeless in Leeds four and a half years ago.

At the age of 20 she herself was diagnosed with CHIARI (kee-ar-ee), an incurable neurological brain condition.  She had surgery in 2012 and the following year climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise over £7500 for research into this condition.

In 2014 she was preparing to walk the Alps to raise money as a thank you to her surgeon, whose son was ill, but not enough people signed up, so it meant that she would have to wait for another year. She looked around for something else she could do to help people.

She remembered that, as a child, she had seen a soup kitchen in a film.  She put together a wheelie shopping bag full of sandwiches and flasks of soup, and set off to Leeds City Centre. Not knowing the city well, she parked up and set off, just turning left each time to bring her back in a circle to her car.

Gradually friends and volunteers started to help, and Pathway Kitchen Leeds was created.  They still follow the same route to this day.

Every Tuesday evening throughout the year they walk the route dispensing hot dinners, sandwiches, hot drinks and cakes to the street sleepers. All these items are donated and cooked by volunteers, and distributed along with care packs, sanitary products, clothing and sleeping bags when available.

She has provided friendship to many and, through Pathway’s Facebook page, helps source items for any street sleepers who have decided to move into accommodation.  She is considered to be a personal friend to many of the regulars.

In the four and a half years that Pathway Kitchen Leeds has been running, she has worked tirelessly alongside the volunteers she attracts through her enthusiasm and inclusive approach. She has vowed that ‘if her legs go’, she will get them to push her in a chair, so she can still interact with her friends.  She truly deserves to be recognised for what she does.

Breast Cancer Action Group (BCRAG)
Breast Cancer Action community group was founded by Margaret Stead (BEM) in 1994 and is made up of breast cancer survivors and their supporters. This dedicated group of women organise events throughout the year raising valuable funds for Leeds Cares in aid of breast cancer research at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.  These events include pamper evenings, coffee mornings and charity auctions in the local community.

The BCRAG ladies also give up their valuable time to volunteer on the Breast Unit at St James’s Hospital and to run the Leeds Cares charity stall in Jubilee Wing at the Leeds General Infirmary. Sandra Ramsden and Pam Kennedy from the community group run a trolley service providing refreshments for patients on the Breast Unit.  They also sell BCRAG merchandise to raise funds.

So far Breast Cancer Action has raised a phenomenal £1 million through Leeds Cares, helping to support vital breast cancer research in Leeds.

Leah Gash – Selby Hands of Hope
Leah is a wonderful volunteer. She has been supporting a number of local charities for over five years now. Although Leah is registered as severely sight impaired herself, she continually supports local organisations and individuals. As a volunteer for Selby Hands of Hope nothing is ever too much for Leah, always rolling her sleeves up and getting stuck in. She also works as a support volunteer, enabling people with physical and learning disabilities to also volunteer by shadowing them and supporting them. This enables individuals to have a purpose and has made such a difference to their lives. Leah is an advocate for those with disabilities in the local area and such an asset to the voluntary sector.

Day One Ladies
Day One Major Trauma Support is a service delivered by Leeds Cares. Day One is a unique service that offers holistic support for non-clinical issues faced by trauma patients and their families across West Yorkshire.

One of the most valuable services Day One offers is the support of a dedicated team of volunteers, who are often former trauma patients themselves or close relatives of former patients. The volunteer’s own experience helps them build a connection with trauma patients, providing emotional and practical support for patients and their families throughout the recovery journey and giving a real insight into what life might be like outside of the ward.

Some of the inspiring female Day One volunteers who deserve special recognition for their dedication include Moira Jordan, who, following her retirement in August, gives up her time every fortnight for two hours. Debbie MacPhee has been volunteering with Day One since last spring for four hours per week, despite being in and out of surgery herself. Former trauma patients Catherine Clark and Fredarika West both benefited from the support of volunteers whilst on the ward and have been Day One volunteers for a number of years, dedicating four hours per week to support patients and their loved ones.

What is special about the Day One volunteer ladies is that they go the extra mile to help patients.  Even once they have been discharged from the ward, volunteers travel to the homes of ex-trauma patients to visit them and see how they are adjusting to normal life again.