We are thrilled to announce that two of our volunteers have been shortlisted to receive awards at a Volunteer Awards Ceremony organised by Third Sector, Dumfries and Galloway. They are John McCreadie for Adult Volunteer of the Year and Andrew Simister for Board Member of the Year. Both volunteers were put forward by Project Manager Anne McLauchlan for their outstanding contributions to volunteering!
John is our janitor and ‘resident photographer’, a title he has earned himself because he captures everything going on around here on his tablet and constantly inspires all of us with his cheeky smile and his ‘can do’ attitude.
Anne has described him as “an exceptional man with an exceptional story.” And so he is! Even though he has experienced terrible tragedy and battled severe mental health issues, he continues to serve others by giving his time diligently to help those less fortunate than himself.
When John was first referred to the charity, he was on medication and did not get out of bed for 6 months. Fortunately, he was able to take back control of his life after receiving support from the team here at Kate’s Kitchen and through that help, he regained his confidence and sense of self worth. He became healthier and started to contribute more and more.
John greets everyone with a smile, loves to pull peoples’ legs and just generally cheers people up. He arrives early to open up, puts the heating on, sweeps, mops, helps to clear up after meals and is usually the last to leave the building. His contribution to Kate’s Kitchen is astounding and enables those who are in crisis or are socially isolated to access free hot food and the support they need to take back control of their lives. Kate’s Kitchen would struggle to operate effectively without John’s input.
John’s volunteering has made a tremendous difference to many in the community, but he has felt the greatest impact in his own life.
“Volunteering has really changed my outlook to life. I used to have panic attacks but now I am confident, fulfilled and I have developed many new skills. I just don’t want to sit around doing nothing.”
In the last year, he has given a staggering 1,250 volunteer hours and is now completing his Discovery Award, has a social circle outside the project with other volunteers and his life has purpose and meaning once again.
Sadly, John lost his son a few years ago and says he is forever indebted to the Chair, Catherine Dale, who officiated at the funeral ceremony. He thanks Kate’s Kitchen for the help and support he has received over the years.
Andrew Sinister is the second volunteer nominated by manager Anne McLauchlan and shortlisted by Third Sector, Dumfries and Galloway. Andrew serves as volunteer and service user representative on the Board of Trustees and is also the Health and Safety officer for the charity. His role on the Board gives him insight into how the organisation is run and he supports the Trustees to be service user lead.
Andrew was himself a service user of Kate’s Kitchen who was initially referred to the charity by a partner organisation. He felt socially isolated and had an extreme lack of self confidence and panicked at the thought of attending sessions at an organisation like Kate’s Kitchen. Andrew also suffered from anxiety and struggled to communicate. This gentle giant is still not one to talk much, but when he does, it is with wisdom and authority and people listen because they know what he is saying is meaningful. He is more aware of his value and has gone from only being able to volunteer for short periods at a time to being an active volunteer who has run the kitchen and prepared the meals during the cook’s absence. He is a valuable part of the board of trustees and a great member of the team.
“Andrew has grown and developed in many ways but his confidence levels are the greatest significant development. He recently completed both a Fire Risk and a Health and Safety Assessment of our new building, ‘The Beacon’, on Bank Street in Annan. Both were huge pieces of work and reflected his growth and development since coming to the charity. His contribution is extremely valuable and he is greatly revered by both his peers and the other trustees. His volunteering means that those who are disadvantaged lead the agenda at the charity as he not only brings a personal perspective, but also represents the voice of the service users.
We are really proud of their achievements and wish both John and Andrew the very best and hope they win the awards they have both been nominated for. Well done, John and Andrew!
The Volunteer Awards Ceremony will take place on Thursday 2nd June, 2016 at The Usual Place in Dumfries as part of Volunteers’ Week. This is an annual event organised by Third Sector, Dumfries and Galloway, and recognises volunteers and volunteering within the region.