Plymouth volunteer honoured in national awards
A volunteer in Plymouth who helps people experiencing homelessness was recognised at a national awards ceremony.
Lyndsey Withers – who volunteers at Plymouth’s Devonport House Lifehouse, Park Avenue – received the Exceptional Contribution to Homelessness Services accolade at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire, during The Salvation Army’s Social Services awards ceremony.
The awards recognise those who have made an exceptional contribution to the church and charity’s work in helping transform the lives of people in every community.
Lyndsey is a regular volunteer at the Plymouth Lifehouse, a residential centre offering support to people experiencing homelessness.
During her time volunteering Lyndsey has set up a literacy and numeracy programme, where lots of residents continue to learn to read and write, she has also been engaging residents in developing an allotment which has won a number of awards in the town.
Alongside this work, Lyndsey has set up a cooking programme and holds weekly cookery classes to help build residents’ self-esteem and confidence. She has built excellent links with the university and introduced healthcare to the centre, with regular visits and treatments from the dental school and other health initiatives.
At the awards ceremony, Territorial Director for Homelessness Services Mitch Menagh said: ‘Lyndsey has been nominated no less than 20 times for this award. She invests much time and effort into the residents and is admired by them and staff alike. Her joy is to see the residents’ lives improved and goes out of her way to ensure this happens.’
Lyndsey was unable to collect her award in person, but Devonport House’s acting service manager Jane Barwick collected it on her behalf.
On hearing she had won an award, Lyndsey said: ‘This is quite a shock – a very pleasant one. I am delighted to have been nominated but recognise that none of us works in isolation – this award is for a contribution that is not mine alone.
‘I am very fortunate to work alongside some exceptional people, and in that I include our residents who have allowed me into their lives. It is a privilege to share a small part of their journey and witness the courage with which they confront huge challenges.
‘I thank The Salvation Army for its inclusiveness in allowing me to volunteer, especially for the freedom I have been given to build a programme of activities.
‘I also want to recognise our partners in different organisations, particularly the staff and students of the University of Plymouth, including the Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.
‘By working together, we are able to further our complementary aims, be it helping our residents to improve their health and wellbeing today, carrying out research that will benefit them tomorrow or training the practitioners of the future.’
Major Paul Kingscott, Territorial Social Services Secretary in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, said: ‘These awards are about the winners and winning centres which tell a story of dedication to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need in every community.
‘This awards ceremony was an opportunity to recognise their hard work, support, and self-sacrifice. These people are there for others no matter how dark and difficult the circumstances and are truly good Samaritans helping others who might need compassionate support, a listening ear or practical help.’
Image: Devonport House Lifehouse acting service manager Jane Barwick (who accepted the award on Lyndsey Withers’s behalf) is pictured with The Salvation Army’s national leaders Commissioners Clive and Marianne Adams (both in uniform)
(from a press release)