A soup kitchen in West Yorkshire has received a £1000 donation after one of its volunteers was named Volunteer of the Year in the inaugural Social Impact Awards.

Organised by Together Housing Group and funded by its charitable arm Newground Together, the awards recognise and celebrate the great social value work its staff contribute to in their spare time.

Diane Tyrone received the top prize for her contribution to Soup 4 Em in South Kirkby.

When she’s not busy in her role as Sustainable Communities Worker for Newground Together, Diane volunteers at the soup kitchen two days a week, where she manages four other volunteers.

In addition to collecting donations of food, clothing, bedding and hygiene products, Diane prepares and cooks a hot meal for up to 38 people twice a week. She also liaises with partner agencies to come in and support people who need help accessing benefits, housing or employment. In addition, she offers out of hours support to those who need it.

Mick Smith, Managing Director of Newground, said: “We already have our internal STAR Awards which celebrate staff who go above and beyond in their day job but we recognise that their contribution to the communities we work in doesn’t stop when they clock off.

“We launched the Social Impact Awards to reward our colleagues who not only demonstrate passion and commitment to helping others in their professional lives but also in their personal lives.

“It was truly humbling to learn about all the good causes our colleagues support in their spare time. The judges were blown away by the quality of the entries but what stood out was the holistic approach of Soup 4 Em, which is clearly heavily influenced by Diane’s skills and experiences from her day job.

“It isn’t just a place where vulnerable people can get a warm meal, they can also get advice on everything from budgeting to housing. Diane has also been involved in education outreach work, with soup kitchen users talking to young people about how bad choices have impact on their lifestyles.”

Two other projects in West Yorkshire, as well as two in Lancashire, also received £500 each after a volunteer at each was highly commended:

  • Wakefield City Cheerleaders

Ebony Gillespie, Lettings and Sales Receptionist, volunteers as a trainer at this not-for-profit troupe. She also organises fundraising for uniform and equipment as well as social events. The troupe includes dancers from the age of three to 28. They welcome everyone regardless of experience, gender, background or disability and the troupe regularly performs locally as well as competes in competitions.

Ben Moorhouse, a Customer Services Advisor, established the charity to support parents of stillborn children following the stillbirth of his own daughter. Ben has channelled his pain and grief by fundraising tirelessly for a new maternity bereavement suite at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, raising an astonishing £22,000 in only 10 months.

Sara Knagg, Reuse Centre Manager, is the Technical Director and a committee member of this youth club in Preston. The group put on two big performances a year at a large theatre and two smaller shows in a local hall, as well as performing at other events such as summer fairs throughout the year, to raise money. The young people nominate a child in need or a children’s charity each year and any funds raised go towards that. In the past, the group has raised money for therapy lights, specialist wheelchairs, children’s wards and wigs for a child who had lost their hair during cancer treatment.

Gillian Fox, an ICT Service Desk Manager, volunteers as a Commanding Officer of the Bamber Bridge Squadron, holding the RAF rank of Flight Lieutenant. She coordinates all aspects of the squadron from administration and auditing to teaching, training and mentoring young people, helping them achieve qualifications such as BTECs and Duke of Edinburgh Awards and developing life skills such as leadership, teamworking, first aid and public speaking.