Merton recognises Library Volunteers at Annual Celebration Award Event

A celebration award ceremony was held on Thursday 8 March at Merton Arts Space, Wimbledon Library to recognise the work of Merton’s amazing Library Volunteers. The event was presented by the Mayor of Merton, Councillor Marsie Skeete, Councillor Nick Draper, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Community and Culture and Merton Voluntary Services Council’s Sarah Hanningan.

Over 600 library volunteers were honoured during the event. Speaking of their work, Councillor Nick Draper, said: “Our devoted volunteers give up their time, week after week, to help our staff make Merton’s libraries as fabulous as they are.  Thanks to their invaluable efforts our libraries are not only the best value of any in London, they have also been voted the best based on customer satisfaction and customer usage. My sincere thanks go out to them all.”

All volunteers were presented with a certificate in recognition of their contribution to Merton’s Libraries, with special awards going to: –

Outstanding Contribution Award – Winner: Paul Drewett, West Barnes Library
Awarded for Outstanding Contribution was Paul Drewett who has been a volunteer for just over two years at West Barnes Library. During this time, Paul has contributed to the library and local community in various ways by giving his time each week to help with shelving, shelf checks and meeting and greeting customers. He regularly stays on over his hours to help set out tables and chairs for the Tuesday Rendezvous Club to help support the older community which they appreciate greatly and he provides cover whenever there is a shortage of volunteers. Paul also bakes cakes which he donates to the Friends of the library when they run fairs and makes refreshments for customers attending local history groups.

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Volunteer Team of the Year – (Joint) Winner: IT Support Team, Mitcham Library
This year, the contributions from the volunteer groups were of such a high standard that two joint winners were awarded. The first winner of this category was the IT Support Team at Mitcham Library who collectively provided over eight years of support to the general public to provide general IT assistance at a level of unparalleled quality. Their role often requires patience, commitment and communication skills that transcend language barriers and a variety of other obstacles. They have assisted with job applications, information on housing benefits, hardware troubleshooting, personal research and everything in between with each of the team recognising the importance each customer’s enquiry.

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Volunteer Team of the Year – (Joint) Winner: Aged 16 and Under Volunteer Team, Wimbledon Library
The other joint winner of this category was the Aged 16 and Under Team at Wimbledon who were also recognised for their contribution to a whole range of tasks throughout the week at Wimbledon Library. The twelve Duke of Edinburgh students currently offer their time, as well as two students from Kings College who offer IT classes, and two further young volunteers who offer their time each week simply as they wish to dedicate some time to their community. Over the summer there were 26 Summer Reading Volunteers who helped the staff with the smooth running of the annual challenge and donated over 330 hours of their time. All the volunteers are valued by staff and customers for their patience, teaching skills and willingness to help.

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Volunteer of the Year Award – Winner: Yvonne Smith, Carved in Stone Project Volunteer, Heritage Centre, Morden Library
Yvonne has been a valued member of the Heritage team since 2012, first volunteering on the Merton Memories project before moving on to support ‘Carved in Stone’, which focuses on Merton’s First World War heritage. Over the past year, Yvonne has pieced together the life stories of many Merton combatants, making information available to the public for the first time. Tricky and painstaking work, this has involved many hours checking online databases, websites, local history books and archives. Conscientious and determined, Yvonne has refused to give up searching until she has found material which highlights the sacrifices made by these courageous men – enabling publication of stories previously hidden from history. Yvonne has also helped to produce a local history exhibition conducting extensive research and display work to raise awareness of life in Merton and Morden during the Great War. She has been of great assistance and her people-skills have made her very popular with staff and customers. Yvonne regularly volunteers many hours over and above her normal shift to assist with the promotion, preparation and running of events.

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Long Service Award
This year, Merton Council presented a special award in recognition of the Home Visits Library Service which has been running for over 10 years and continues to go from strength to strength. Home Visits Library Service provides an invaluable free service to Merton residents who cannot get to their local library and have no one to go for them. In these situations, they take the Merton resident to the library or visit on their behalf.

The team of Debby Brooker and her volunteers, recruited and managed by Merton Voluntary Services Council, cater for all interests, tastes and ages, providing a wide range of material from the whole of the library services every four weeks, including community languages, audio-visual material and a range of information in particular books in large print and talking books. To organise a home visit Library Service Volunteer contact 020 8274 5910.

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Young Volunteer of the Year – Sanjana Poddar, Wimbledon Library
Sanjana was a 2017 Summer Reading Volunteer and completed an impressive 46 hours volunteering over the few weeks of the summer holiday. Her help at the beginning of the challenge helping to set sessions up and ensure that everything ran smoothly was invaluable to the staff. Her attention to detail with the administration was outstanding which she demonstrated well to her fellow co-volunteers. Sanjana helped out when no other volunteers were available and was proactive in ensuring Summer Reading resources were tidy and topped up. She was enthusiastic when interacting with the children, parents and staff and was good at encouraging and engaging the children she spoke to.

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For anyone interested in becoming a Library Volunteer, please contact your local library, or visit merton.gov.uk/libraries and click on the Volunteering link.