Mayor’s Champs get Royal recognition

A Council-run volunteering scheme, which helped keep Tower Hamlets moving during the Olympic Games, has received royal recognition.

The Mayor’s Community Champions programme, which was jointly funded by NHS North East London and the City, was today (December 12) announced as one of sixty recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012 by Buckingham Palace and the Cabinet Office.

The scheme brought together 100 people living, working and studying in Tower Hamlets with local public services in a programme which ran for the duration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

The Community Champions, who came from a range of backgrounds to reflect the diversity of the borough, were on hand between 10am-7pm each day, welcoming visitors to the borough, signposting residents to the Games and to local places of interest.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who launched the scheme in May, said: “I’m delighted that the hard work of the Champions has been recognised in this way. The scheme itself has been a huge success – the Champions were the face of the Games, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors to our borough and it was fantastic that we were also able to give them a chance to gain new skills.”

The volunteers completed accredited training delivered by the Council, Police and NHS as part of the scheme, honing their Customer Services and Health and Safety skills.

In addition to providing a signposting service, the Champions also promoted key public health messages and distributed over 5,000 bottles of water and 6,000 tubes of sunscreen during the summer.

Somen Banerjee, Director of Tower Hamlets Public Health at NHS North East London and the City said: “It is excellent news to hear the volunteers are being recognised so highly. The Royal Society of Public Health awareness training we provided gave volunteers the confidence to deliver public health messaging as local ambassadors. Since then, many have continued to volunteer as health champions, supporting the work of health trainers to help people in Tower Hamlets live healthier lives.”

Local resident and champion Carol Johnston said: “I was privileged to part of a team of volunteers of Mayor’s Champions in Tower Hamlets. I helped to welcome both international and national visitors to the borough, and shared my knowledge of the borough which I’ve acquired from having lived here for more than 25 years.

“My experience as a Mayor’s Community Champion in Tower Hamlets has been one of the most positive, rewarding and enjoyable volunteering experiences I have ever had and am very keen to continue to be involved in the Mayor’s Champion programme.”

The local popularity of the programme with volunteers and residents alike has ensured that the Mayor’s Community Champions scheme will continue.

Community Champion Co-ordinators, who will play a key role in supporting parts of the borough to shape the services they receive, will be recruited by the council in January 2013.

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December 12, 2012