Volunteers who help St Giles Hospice to care for bereaved children, young people and older people are celebrating after winning prestigious awards at the Support Staffordshire Volunteer Star Awards 2021.

Volunteers for the Phoenix service, based at the hospice in Whittington, won the Volunteering Support for Young People Award in Lichfield and District, and volunteers at Uttoxeter Cares won the Volunteering Support for the Over 65s category in the East Staffordshire awards.

Phoenix at St Giles offers one-to-one and family group support, a peer support group, and a range of other activities from boxing to crafts. It also works with other organisations offering advice and training to schools and professionals to give them the skills to better help young people who have lost a loved one.

From left, St Giles volunteer Dick Whittington, Family Support Worker Sarah Cooper, Family Support Worker Shelley Coglan, Phoenix Clinical Lead Jodie Phillips, volunteer Sandy Prince, Support Staffordshire Locality Officer Claire Ferris and volunteer Clare Evans with the Phoenix award.

Uttoxeter Cares is a community partnership between St Giles Hospice, Katharine House Hospice and the Hermitage Charitable Trust, which brings people together for groups and activities with a focus on health and wellbeing, offering key hospice services such as a lymphoedema clinic, bereavement support and complementary therapy so that people can access these services locally.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, both Phoenix at St Giles and Uttoxeter Cares adapted their services so that they could continue providing support – replacing face-to-face meetings and appointments with emails, and video and telephone calls.

Phoenix Clinical Lead Jodie Phillips said: “We are so proud and so thrilled to win this award, which recognises all of the vital hard work that our volunteers do. Our volunteers always make such a difference, but this was especially true through COVID-19 when their commitment did not waver for a second and they really went above and beyond to support our families.

“I think we have got the most amazing group of volunteers, who are highly skilled and bring us real dedication and passion. Without them we could not run the Phoenix service and we are so lucky to have them.”

Ian Leech, Community Development Manager at Uttoxeter Cares, said: “Our centre couldn’t open last year because of the pandemic, but the volunteers – many of whom were shielding themselves– led by Michelle and Kerry took it upon themselves to maintain contact with our service users and between them they spent more than 1,000 hours on the phone, which I think is incredible.

“Our service wouldn’t be where it is today without the efforts of our volunteers and we are so grateful for everything they’ve done.”

The Volunteer Star Awards are presented by Support Staffordshire, a countywide organisation which supports voluntary, community and social enterprise groups. More than 1,200 people attended its award ceremonies across Staffordshire in 2019, but the events had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and took place online this year in June to maintain social distancing rules.

Support Staffordshire Locality Officer for Lichfield and District, Claire Ferris, said: “These events aim to publicly recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements and commitment of volunteers and organisations who go the extra mile to support our communities.

“Congratulations to the volunteers. You are all absolute stars and an inspiration to us all.”