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Mental Health volunteers shortlisted for national award

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VOLUNTEERS who operate the Warrington Day Service, will find out tonight (Thursday) whether they have been named volunteer team of the year.

The volunteers, all aged between 26 and 70, have been recognised by the judges for providing a safe space for people living with mental health conditions to socialise and eat a meal each week day. The volunteer-run day centre, on Allen Street, is open to all adults who attend the Warrington mental health service.

The day centre volunteers – eight men and one woman – deliver a Monday-Friday catering service from 10am to 4pm, with a freshly prepared hot lunch, tea bar and refreshments.

The team organise themselves into shifts to cook a midday meal, serve hot drinks and snacks, keep the area tidy, take payment, order and monitor stock and socialise with members to make them feel welcome and comfortable.

The majority of the volunteers are members of the mental health service and have to balance their own mental health needs with their time at the day centre. Between them, they have clocked up over 50 years of volunteering.

Every volunteer is given training in health and safety, hygiene and everything else they need in order to run a busy catering service. They gain a lot of transferable skills they can use when looking for paid employment, as well as references for potential employers.

The annual award for which they are finalists is presented by charity magazine Third Sector.

The winner will be announced at a gala awards evening tonight (Thrsday Sept 19) at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square.

Paula Spence, performance and quality manager, Making Space, said: “Warrington Day Service has always relied on the generous time given to us by our volunteers. We are extremely grateful and humbled by people who just want to do things for nothing in return.

“Some of our volunteers just simply want to say thank you for all the past support they’ve been given. They’ve done this by giving the centre their time, skills and effort to help others in their journey to good health.

“Some are more serious about wanting to improve their knowledge and experience to look forward to a career, so we are only too pleased to help this happen by offering training and opportunities whilst in a true working environment.”

Gary, 60, who has volunteered with Warrington Day Service for 10 years, said: “Volunteering has helped me to build my confidence and talk to people. I like people knowing my name and feeling appreciated.

“I’ve gained new skills in customer service and completed courses including health and safety and food hygiene. It’s good to feel part of a supportive team, and I feel appreciated by Making Space and always listened to.

“The centre is somewhere I can talk to people and has helped me through some very dark times.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with Making Space, at the Warrington Day Service and other projects, can contact volunteering@makingspace.co.uk or speak to Antonia Pike, Liz Butler or Mark Thornton on 01925 581747.

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