Emotions are running high for both volunteers and the staff who support them at the announcement of a momentous award for The Fed’s My Voice project.
The My Voice volunteer team has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS)! The accolade is the highest award possible for a UK voluntary group and is equivalent to an individual receiving an MBE. And the joy and excitement in the air is palpable.
Whilst run by our Volunteer Services department My Voice is a standalone project which supports Holocaust Survivors and Refugees in recounting their whole life stories. These are published into hardback books and provide priceless, treasured legacies for the Survivors families and future generations. Additionally they offer valuable first-hand accounts for Holocaust education.
Volunteer Services Manager, Juliette Pearce, explains more:
“My Voice celebrates the Survivors’ entire lives – not just the years of persecution, but their childhoods in communities which were decimated, and the rebuilding of their lives from nothing. We help to validate their lives. Their stories tell of their successes, the wonderful contributions they have made to the Greater Manchester community and beyond in terms of work, communal office and so forth. They are stories of triumph.
“This accolade however is for the 50 plus dedicated volunteers involved in the project, who undertake a variety of roles to enable these stories to be told. They befriend our storytellers over many months recording conversations which are then transcribed and go through a meticulous editing and proof-reading process, before being individually designed and illustrated with photos.
The care, sensitivity and exactitude of the task is breath-taking. These volunteers are from all walks of life with a huge range of skills but above all they are passionate and committed individuals who take on an enormous responsibility – not just to the Survivor but to the loved ones they lost – in helping ensure they will never be forgotten, and that the positives in their lives will be celebrated.”
A story-teller listens intently to a public reading of her book by her volunteer.
A volunteer and Survivor celebrate the presentation of his story in print, watch by Juliette (R).
To date My Voice has published the stories of 28 Survivors and a further 11 are currently at various stages of production. A set of volumes is archived at Yad Vashem, World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
My Voice is Heritage Lottery funded and also supported by dictate2us. It is one of under 250 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children’s bereavement charity in London; a support group for those living with dementia and their carers in North Yorkshire; a volunteer minibus service in Cumbria; a group supporting young people in Belfast; a community radio station in Inverness and a mountain rescue team in Powys.
Representatives of My Voice will receive the award crystal and certificate from the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester later this summer and two volunteers from My Voice will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s Award.