The winners of the Let's Do It Awards, run by the Chronicle and Barclays to support essential work in the community, were finally announced last week. Rupert Basham reports
ORGANISATIONS whose members work tirelessly for the benefit of the community have been recognised in the Chronicle's Let's Do It Awards.
The Chronicle and Barclays joined forces to launch a competition for local groups and charities to win cash and financial training.
We had a great response to the call for nominations and our judging panel of Chronicle editor Adrian Seal, Barclays Gloucester Road branch manager David Ohl, and Barclays Premier relationship manager in Hammersmith Andy Green, had a difficult time picking the winners.
In the end the victors were Furnish, Age UK Kensington and Chelsea, Ray's Playhouse, Care UK with Mary Seacole House and the Grove Neighbourhood Centre.
Representatives from all five charities were invited to the King Street branch of Barclays for the awards ceremony last Friday (29), attended by Hammersmith and Fulham mayor Belinda Donovan.
Editor Adrian Seal said: "The Chronicle is absolutely delighted once again to be working with Barclays for the Let's Do It Awards.
"It's great to acknowledge those organisations that make a real difference in their communities. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated."
Up for grabs was a £1,000 cash prize, two runners-up prizes of £500 each, a team of volunteers offering their services along with a grant of up to £750 and a Barclays Money Skills Award which consisted of £1,000 cash, plus training in money management.
Vanessa Lavery, Barclays area director for Hammersmith, said: "It is great to recommend the smaller charities because they do so much. We need the local charities to forge relationships with the local branches of Barclays so we can both service the community. We would like more charities to come forward as we want to work in the local community."
Winner of the Barclays Money Skills Award: Grove Community Centre, Hammersmith
Located in the heart of Hammersmith, the centre is a public hub with space for baby and toddler groups, social groups and health and fitness groups, to name just a few.
Every year around 4,000 people pass through its doors.
The £1,000 is a welcome boost and will help to buy a new computer and scanner.
Volunteer Vicky Wood, said: "We're very excited about getting a new computer, we've wanted one for so long.
"We have a lot of elderly people who don't have computers, so they come in and we teach them about using email and online shopping.
"The financial workshops will be really useful as many people would really like to have some financial advice about savings and what to do with their pensions.
"We're over the moon."
Winner of the £1,000 cash prize: Ray's Playhouse, Fulham
Funding cuts in 2010 meant the Sands End Playhouse was forced to shut its doors - but the community did not take the decision lying down.
Thanks to business and independent funding from the Bender Family Trust, set up in memory of long-time Fulham resident Ray Bender, it re-opened as Ray's Playhouse in September last year, providing support for disadvantaged families with children under five.
Here they can take part in arts and crafts, have a hearty meal and even sleep over.
The money will go towards new toys and play equipment.
Centre manager Sue Lamb said: "We didn't expect it and we want to give a huge thank you. We will identify the needs of the families we help in order to purchase the right equipment."
Winner of the £750 grant and volunteer team: Mary Seacole House, Hammersmith
The residents of Mary Seacole House will be able to sit back and relax in their new landscaped garden once the Barclays volunteer team are finished with it.
Based in Invermead Close, Mary Seacole House offers elderly people a more independent and comfortable way of life.
Managed by Hannover with Care UK, staff encourage the 32 residents to avoid isolation by joining in regular activities and events.
Doris Derghan, activities manager and fundraiser, said: "Unfortunately many of the residents don't even go out of their front door so they're at risk of being isolated.
"I am so happy we won £750 for the residents, they will get a luxurious landscaped garden now, which is a great step forward."
Winner of the £500 runner up prize: Age UK Kensington and Chelsea
Elderly people in Kensington and Chelsea will be getting their dancing shoes ready as Age UK is planning to use its money to organise tea dances and trips.
Ben Long, of Age UK, said: "We're going to be running some extra tea dances, which will be very popular, I'm sure.
"The idea is that they will assist people who might be at risk of isolation, people that wouldn't be able to get out normally. We hire minibuses and get people out of their daily environment into a new fun and exciting environment.
"The dances are so popular that at one stage they used to be oversubscribed. With this we'll be able to do a couple of trips and a couple of dances."
Winner of the £500 runner up prize: Furnish, Shepherd's Bush
Through its warehouse and shop, Furnish is helping the unemployed of Shepherd's Bush get back on their feet.
By taking old and used furniture and giving it some tender love and care, something that was destined for the scrap heap soon becomes something for the home.
Furnish helps unemployed people by offering them work experience and providing them with training.
Project manager Mark Hardy said: "We didn't expect to win anything so we're delighted. We hope to run some training, maybe put two of the volunteers through a Word or Excel course, or some sort of CV enhancement."