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GMB's 1 Million Minutes Awards: We celebrate the unsung heroes who have helped others

Welcome to the 1 Million Minutes Awards, hosted by Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway.

Watch the awards show here.

The Awards celebrate those who have gone above and beyond improving the lives of others in this the most difficult of years.

Katherine Jenkins, Davina McCall and Bear Grylls were all on hand to help deliver awards to the winners.

And Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband Scott Mitchell sent a heartfelt message to the winner of the award named in her honour. It is the first time he has spoken publicly since the icon’s death last week.

Pledge your time to help end loneliness here.

Take a look at the winners.

Community Award

WINNER: JAWAD & ASIYAH JAVED 

Husband and wife duo, Jawad and Asiyah Javed, were both brought up with strong principles of helping others less fortunate than themselves. When they bought their convenience store in Falkirk, Scotland they realised there were a huge amount of local people suffering with a variety of difficulties and struggling to make ends meet.

They have used their store over the years as a local support - most notably with food parcels. When the pandemic began Asiyah and Jawad increased their food parcels to over one hundred food parcels per week.

 Volunteer of the Year Award

WINNER: RENU DEWAN

Renu Dewan has been volunteering for Grief Encounter since 2017. After experiencing the death of her mother at 11 years old, she recognised the value of professional therapeutic support.

Renu now volunteers as a coordinator for Grief Encounter and does everything from helping set up craft workshops, attending children focused events as a mentor, registering volunteers within the charity as well as matching them with suitable and specific tasks. 

Her standout achievement over the last two years has been coordinating the Grief Encounter Children’s Choir.

Renu was overwhelmed when singer Katherine Jenkins was on hand to help deliver the news. Speaking about how she lost her own father at the age of 15, Katherine explained: “They are such an incredible charity. I lost my own dad when I was 15…Singing makes us all feel better and helps our well-being. They are special children and it’s amazing to see someone put so much energy into it.” 

Mental Health Champion Award

WINNER: DAMIEN REYNOLDS, The Wolfpack Project

Damien Reynolds launched The Wolfpack Project in 2019 in the East Midlands to help combat loneliness for young people in his local area. He was inspired by his own experiences with isolation.

The Wolfpack Project provides a network of projects where individuals can access help, establish new friendships and form a wider support network.

This year alone, 750+ individuals across Nottingham have accessed The Wolf Pack and to mark the charity’s one year anniversary, an office and community space was opened to give hundreds of individuals access to drop-in support sessions. 

Davina McCall presented him with the award, he said: “I’m so shocked! And I’m shocked my partner has managed to keep it quiet!” 

Young Loneliness Champion Award

WINNER: JAKE WALKER

Jake Walker is a 17-year-old who has devoted himself to supporting others, and making sure that nobody is left behind. He’s a keen army cadet and spends a lot of his time raising awareness and funds to support military personnel and veterans who are lonely and isolated. He was inspired after reading the book, ‘Broken By War’ written by Afghanistan veteran, Anthony Lock.

He marched 65 miles in 23 hours to raise £6,000 for SSAFA; Armed Forces charity, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, all whilst wearing his army boots.

Jake received his award from Bear Grylls last week. Bear said to Jake that if he goes in the Marines he will go to his passing out parade. 

Special Recognition Award 

WINNER: VERITY RHODES (Vee's Place)

Verity Rhodes will be 80-years-old next year and she’s been volunteering in her local community for nearly two decades. 

In 2002, Vee retired from work and was living alone with depression. She set up a weekly get together in her local leisure centre for the community to meet and talk and 'Vee’s Place' was born. They attracted over 300 members in the first six months, as they provided urgent support for families, young people, isolated elderly people and for those who are at risk of homelessness and mental health issues. 

During the pandemic, Verity remained proactive with Vee’s Place and offered a drop in service which was open every day from 11am to 2pm for whoever required it. She told Ben and Kate: “You don’t do this for the recognition but boy, will I treasure this [award].”

Animal Loneliness Champion Award

WINNER: NATALIA BATE - Dogs for Development

As a young girl Natalia Bate was bullied and as a result, she suffered from severe loneliness. She’s always been passionate about wanting to help other young people who have experienced bullying and anyone who might feel socially excluded.

Five years ago Natalia set up a non-profit organisation called Dogs for Development, after noticing the profound and positive impact her own rescue dogs had with children in the special needs school where she worked at the time. 

Dogs for Development focus their work on young people who are suffering from severe depression and loneliness. 

Frontline Hero Award (new category)

WINNER: RUTH CHALONER, The HelpHub

Ruth Chaloner set up The HelpHub at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. 

She knew something about loneliness, grief and living alone after losing her father recently, so she was convinced her idea could help.  

Ruth met with the CEO of Blenheim Palace to talk about fundraising to provide a bursary for local people in Woodstock & Bladon who would benefit from a free therapy service. The impact of Covid-19 transformed the original idea into an online service, providing 20 minute sessions of emotional support to those who could not afford it and the concept has grown and grown. Dr Hilary presented the award live tonight.

He said: “When the pandemic first loomed and ripped through Britain in March this person saw that there would be some big mental health issues looming. She recruited an army of volunteers and therapists... I’m delighted to announce our frontline loneliness hero, Ruth Chaloner.”

She said: “I knew it was needed and that it was going to be needed but I had no idea about the scale. I had planned to do something in West Oxfordshire where I lived. Wow, I’m a bit overwhelmed.”

Dame Barbara Windsor Award

WINNER: NASSRAT BI

Nassrat Bi has been with Bluebird Care Birmingham East and North for two and a half years and primarily works with clients who receive palliative care.

When the pandemic began Nassrat observed the changing needs of the clients, adapted the way she worked and supported the families clients offering reassurance at all times.

During the pandemic she lost her own father to Covid-19.

She said: “It’s a bittersweet moment. I would like to offer my condolences to Dame Barbara Windsors’ family and friends, who have lost a special one. Dame Barbara Windsor was an icon who worked tirelessly to highlight and bring forward awareness of dementia in the elderly.”  She added: “I’m lost for words.”

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