Jon and I recently attended vInspired's National Awards which celebrates the work of some amazing young volunteers such as Jordan Bone and Stephen Sutton.
After a serious road accident at the age of 15 Jordan has poured her considerable energy into campaigning with a number of road safety charities. She also goes into schools to help newly qualified drivers realise the importance of road safety, which takes more than a little courage. The accident which left her in a wheelchair was caused by someone who'd just passed their test.
Stephen has incurable cancer – that's an incredibly scary thing to have to face at any age – but for someone so young, I can't imagine how you cope, let alone do the things Stephen's done since he got his diagnosis. Stephen's raised over £560,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, achieving some unbelievable feats from his bucketlist along the way.
vInspired National Awards
These are just two of the amazing stories Jon and I heard at vInspired's National Awards last month at the IndigO2 in London. The Awards are vInspired's showcase event of the year. Only a select few Regional Award Winners get through to the National Awards, each nominated against one of seven categories varying from individual awards for volunteering, to group and entrepreneurial awards for services to the community.
Up close and personal
Although we get a taste of what vInspired's amazing young volunteers get up to through our work with the organisation's Digital Team – most recently integrating all their websites into one – rubbing shoulders with so many young volunteers on the Awards night really helped us to understand what volunteering means day to day for these young people.
It was great to having Jordan sitting with us on our table. She was up for the first award of the night: 'All Round Commitment to Volunteering' so we were obviously rooting for our new-found friend when it came to be announced.
A worthy winner
Unfortunately, it wasn't Jordan's night; instead the award went to another inspirational volunteer – Stephen Sutton. As each nomination was announced, we watched a short video giving the nominee's backstory and Stephen's really stood out for Jon and I.
And there's more
The rest of the night continued in the same vein. Each award with a list of nominees, all equally worthy of winning, and some incredible stories. Highlights included 'Nanna P' and her amazing work supporting the young people in her community, Kieran Strong who at just 14 runs after-school sports clubs for young people of different ages and abilities (looking back, at 14 I spent most of my time kicking a football against a wall) and Bethan Rimmington who won the 'Most Outstanding Social Entrepreneur' award for her project HOPE. Bethan's from Sheffield and so got a big cheer from our table.
A night to remember
All in all we had an amazing evening celebrating young people's selfless volunteering. As well as meeting young people and their supporters, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting more of vInspired's team face to face and two of the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) Early Careers team, the event's main sponsor. We even got to hear Maureen Cave performing who'd been chosen by Daybreak as a special Mother's Day surprise.
I was planning on tweeting all evening, but couldn't take my eyes off the stage and the videos about each of the nominees, so I managed just one solitary tweet.
By the end of the proceedings I was astounded and truly honoured to have shared an evening with these amazing young people. I also love the fact that Yoomee's been given the opportunity to help them in some small way by developing a new website providing online services and support to continue their great work.
Overwhelmed by positivity
Looking back I still can't believe there's so much positive activity and selflessness happening every day around us. Young people in the UK have had a really bad press, especially the last couple of years, but seeing and hearing about each of the nominees proved this reputation is unjust. Jasmine Dotiwala of The Huffington Post captured this brilliantly in her article.
A new website
To catch up on the Awards you can read about all the nominees, their stories and even watch the back stage show which was streamed live on the night using the new beta website developed by Yoomee. Please do check out the new beta site and let us know your feedback in the comments below.