Posted on: Tuesday 1 March 2022
Volunteers with Torfaen Council's Play Service have been thanked at a special awards ceremony.
More than 100 guests gathered at the Congress Theatre, in Cwmbran, last night for the event, which also marked 20 years of the Play Service's youth voluntary programme.
Among the winners were Bethan Hughes, 17, who was named Volunteer of the Year and Tayla Hinwood, 19, who won the Long-term Commitment to Volunteering Award.
Bethan, from Llanyrafon, who has been volunteering since the age of 14, said: "I was shocked to win the award. I used to go to play schemes when I was younger so I really enjoy being able to volunteer with them now."
Tayla, 19, added: "I volunteered during pandemic because I didn't want to sit there and not do anything when I could be helping. This award shows me I made a difference."
Bethan was recognised for her voluntary work during term time and school holidays, as well as helping with Play and Respite sessions on weekends.
Tayla was rewarded for his commitment to volunteering with the Play Service over the past five years, particularly during the pandemic.
There were also awards for summer volunteers, term time volunteers and kickstart play apprentices.
So far this year, 120 volunteers, between the ages of 16 and 25, have provided more than 15,750 hours of volunteering in community play settings such as play schemes and camps, after school clubs, play in the park sessions, projects for children with disabilities and projects linked to schools.
Over the past 20 years, the Play Service has supported more than 1,700 young people to volunteer in community play settings, accumulating more than 170,000 hours of volunteering, as well as running hub schools for vulnerable children and children of key workers during the pandemic.
Speaking at the event, Council Leader Anthony Hunt said: "Our Play Service is envied across Wales and beyond.
"The volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of young people and their parents and carers. Thank you for all that you do."
Play Service manager Julian Davenne added: "We want to say thank you to all the young people who have volunteered with us over the past 20 years.
"Our youth voluntary programme is the backbone of our service. As well as helping us to provide a wide variety of sessions for children of all ages and abilities, it offers our volunteers the chance to learn essential skills, make new friends and make a positive difference to their communities."
The Play Service is recruiting for volunteers for this year's summer play schemes. To request an application form, please email firstname.lastname@example.org