Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 13.53.50North Yorkshire County Council has today (Tuesday 1 March) launched its annual community awards to find the county’s unsung heroes, the volunteers who help to deliver the services their communities need.

The awards, which were held for the first time last year, recognise and celebrate voluntary work by individuals and organisations countywide. There were 114 nominations for the inaugural awards from a wide range of community groups, organisations and individuals.

Organisations and individual volunteers make a huge contribution to lives across North Yorkshire. The awards recognise and celebrate the wealth of voluntary work undertaken by people to make their neighbourhoods better places to live and to aid the council in delivering critical services, such as providing social networks that reduce isolation and enable people to live independently for longer.

There are four categories in the awards:

  • Best community project: recognising a community project that has resulted in real benefits for their community.
  • Best community group: recognising an inspirational community group that has made a positive impact on a community and/or people’s lives through on-going, day-to-day activity.
  • Volunteer of the year: recognising an inspiring individual who has made an outstanding contribution to their community through volunteering above and beyond their normal role.
  • Young people volunteering award: recognising projects run by an individual or group aged 11 to 25. It is awarded to a young person or people who have made a difference to other people’s lives by volunteering their time and skills to help to solve a problem or to provide a service.

“Volunteers are becoming the backbone of an increasing number of aspects of life in North Yorkshire,” said County Councillor David Jeffels, who as chairman of the County Council launched the awards last year. “Out of the financial challenges we have seen, and will continue to see, unsung heroes have emerged in our communities to help those around them.

“These awards have emphasised what a wealth of skills and caring we have in the county and, even more importantly, the many people who are prepared to share those skills to the benefit of those less fortunate in our communities.”

County Councillor Val Arnold, vice-chairman of the County Council, added: “The inaugural awards highlighted so much excellent work, so I can’t wait to find out what this year’s nominations will bring. There are many hundreds of dedicated volunteers in our communities and they all deserve our thanks. These awards are a way of honouring some of these people and organisations and, by extension, showing our appreciation for all of them.”

The closing date for nominations is 31 May 2016. Nomination forms can be completed online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/communityawards. Anyone who is unable to complete the nomination online can call 01609 780780.

A panel of judges, including representatives from the council, volunteer organisations, employers and young people, will identify three finalists from each category. All finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony at the North Yorkshire Wider Partnership Conference on the morning of 21 October 2016.

The winner of each category will be awarded £1,000 for the relevant project, group or nominated relevant local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. Two runners-up in each category will receive £250.