North Yorkshire Awards 2014

Helmsley Walled Garden dates back to 1759, but sadly after WWII, it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Local people rescued it 20 years ago, and their mission is to conserve and restore its fabric and return it to full productivity. It is now an exciting visitor attraction – local residents have free entry with tourists paying an admission fee. But as importantly, it provides work and support to vulnerable local people with physical or learning disabilities or mental health issues. In doing so, the Walled Garden community has developed some very special skills to support vulnerable people through horticultural therapy.

Dementia Forward was only set up two years ago, but in that short space of time, they have created a resilient North Yorkshire support network for people with all stages of dementia. Their work encompasses one-on-one support, a help-line, admiral nursing, befriending, signposting and awareness courses. A core aspect is that dementia sufferers act as volunteers allowing them to enjoy a ‘normal life’ and giving them a sense of purpose. Dementia Forward is very much a local organisation and it intends to remain so, if only to keep the paperwork burden to a minimum!

Ryedale Carers Support, which started in 1991, has over 100 volunteers working across a large rural area of North Yorkshire. They provide all manner of support for often isolated carers and older people. The charity supplies tailored, sometimes unorthodox individual support including a sitting service as respite for carers, a visiting service for elderly people who live alone, overnight support, and befriending for elderly people in residential care. The once a month Songs and Scones in partnership with Live Music Now brings isolated people together and provides “shared laughter, fun and friendship – it’s better than any medicine”.

Paperworks, based in Harrogate and Leeds, employs people with physical and/or learning disabilities in a print finishing, mailing and packing business. There are over 50 trainees learning on-the-job, some of whom may move on to other employment. People who might otherwise spend all day at home watching TV do useful work – envelope-filling and mail-shots for businesses, conferences and the local council. But rather than being simply an employer of people with disabilities, Paperworks is a truly sustainable social enterprise working in a properly competitive market. It looks and feels like a business, but one which brings dignity and purpose to its employees.

Tadcaster Volunteer Car Service Association, is described as “a local service run by local people for local people”. However, it is far more than just a taxi service for its 200 regular users. Clients are generally those, who by reason of age or disability, require more assistance than provided by public transport. The volunteer drivers, who use their own vehicles, go that extra mile for their clients – ensuring they get to the right hospital department; wait to take them home again; help their clients with their shopping, reaching articles on top shelves and trundling it back to the car.

Ryedale Youth Theatre welcomes over 70 children, aged between 8 and 18-years old, to learn to sing, act or dance and to engage in back-stage activities. Unfortunately, they are the lucky ones, because there is also a long waiting list. The youth theatre provides an excellent out of school facility in a rural area and one end result is a yearly performance “good enough to transfer to the West End”. Participation boosts the young people’s confidence and self-esteem and it provides a positive outlet for excess energy. A classic example of what voluntary time, effort and teamwork can achieve.

Stokesley and District Community Care Association helps the elderly and disabled to have a full and active life, live independently and be active members of their community. The breadth of services is amazing and all carried out by volunteers who say how much they love helping their own elder people to achieve a positive and active social life. The Association, including both its helpers and its members, has between them created a very vibrant organisation.

Tockwith and District Show now in its 69th year, is notable not only for its longevity, but also its high standards of management and organisation and its community spirit. The annual Show draws in the whole community around Tockwith to educate the young and not so young in rural ways, and to raise funds for charities. Spin-offs from the Show include a community bonfire and fireworks display and a fund-raising Food, Flower and Fun Day. The Show’s continued success rests on a large band of enthusiastic get-up-and-go volunteers.

Carers’ Resource started some 22 years ago and today it provides individually tailored information for carers through its centres in Harrogate and Craven. The 6,000 registered users range in age, from 7 to 95. The support they receive is unparalleled and includes everything from signposting, filling in forms, helping to claim benefits, attending events and organising respite support to emotional support, such as helping carers deal with their sense of isolation, increasing their confidence and being on-call to listen to their daily struggles. The Carer’s Resource is an invaluable “source of comfort and friendship”.

Open Country enables people with many forms of disability to access, enjoy and contribute to the North Yorkshire countryside. It caters for all abilities because it believes disabled people can be carers as well the ‘cared for’. So the less able and the able are both challenged to do real environmental conservation work as well as enjoying the countryside as visitors. As part of the process, Open Country has recently launched the North Yorkshire Directory for People with Disabilities, which was compiled by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.

Whitby, Scarborough and Ryedale Disability Action Group is an organisation for local disabled people. It provides information, advice and practical support to enable independent living for disabled people and it organises educational, leisure and volunteering opportunities, transport, holidays and much, much more. It is truly a user-led organisation, where 80% of the board must be ordinary members. The result is a well-knit team, laid back, but with a steely determination to serve their community. They are currently hard at work expanding into the surrounding large, isolated rural area of East Yorkshire.

Derwent Valley BRIDGE Community Library and Resource Centre is the direct response of a local community to the prospect of losing a vital library service in a rural area. This grassroots organisation has 55 active volunteers and they have taken over a public service and developed it into a community resource. The BRIDGE at West Ayton serves 10,000 people in 14 village communities. The only independent, totally volunteer-run community library and resource centre in North Yorkshire, the BRIDGE is the result of a very positive “let’s get on with it” approach.

Washburn Heritage Centre, which opened in 2011, is designed to enhance Fewston Church’s facilities so that it can offer a broader programme of local social activity and awareness/education of the local heritage. The Centre has grown beyond all expectations with 300 members and 80 active volunteers and a tearoom which attracts visitors to come and see the exhibitions. This is a well-run, well-managed, well-directed and, as the comments in the visitors’ book indicate, a well-received outfit – “What a delightful place! We are so impressed.”

The Hovingham Village Market started in 2009 when the 548 residents decided it should be the centre of their community plan. Five years later, 100 enthusiastic volunteers have run 50 markets raising £35,000 for good causes. The emphasis is always on local traders selling self-grown, reared or made produce. The volunteers hope The Duke of York Community Initiative Award will spur the community on to even greater things in the future.