Jessica Ennis-Hill to present inaugural Make a Difference Awards

Pictured are VAS judges Richard Wright, Alyson Fender OBE, Debbie Matthews and George Connell


Former Olympic and World Heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill will present the inaugural Make a Difference Awards spearheaded by Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) to celebrate its 90th anniversary.   

The accolades recognise and celebrate the quiet heroes of local community groups, charities and voluntary organisations and the huge contribution they make to the people, communities and the economy of Sheffield.  

The shortlist for the awards – which take place on November 24 at Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield – follows 140 nominations from more than 100 groups and organisations. Two organisations have been nominated in nine awards categories, a further nine organisations have been highly commended – and a Special Judges Award will go to Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity to recognise The Herd of Sheffield project.  

The finalists are Roundabout, Sheffield Young Carers, Buzz, Recovery Enterprises, Assist Sheffield, Sheffield Volunteer Libraries, AFC Unity, Handmade Cinema, No Panic Sheffield, Sheffield Environment Weeks, Ashiana Sheffield, Sheffield Citizens Advice, Cavendish Cancer Care, Manor & Castle Development Trust, Excellence in Partnership Working, Alzheimer’s Society Sheffield,  Sheffield Alcohol Support Service – Peer Mentor Scheme, Save our Sandwiches Sheffield and Upscribe.  

Supporters of the awards are hlw Keeble Hawson – one of Yorkshire’s biggest law firms with offices in Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster – South Yorkshire Housing Association, South Yorkshire Community Foundation, Sheffield Business Improvement District, Unity Trust Bank, Ackroyd &  Abbot, Sewell Moorhouse, Yorkshire Bank and the Blunkett Family.   

Debbie Matthews, VAS Chair said: “We were extremely impressed with the quality of all the entries and inspired by the dedication, ingenuity and determination behind them to improve the lives of people across Sheffield.  

“Choosing just two to shortlist from each category was difficult and we congratulate every organisation or group that took part and all the wonderful workers and volunteers that keep them going. Every one of them really does make a difference to others and helps to make our city such a special place to live even when times are tough.”   

Maddy Desforges, chief executive at VAS, said: “We have been delighted by the standard of entries. Too often, we in the sector are almost apologetic that, despite our best efforts, we can’t do everything, for everybody all of the time. The reality is that every day, and often with very little resources, people across the city achieve amazing things making a real difference to people’s lives. 

“It is our privilege at VAS to support and work with around 800 local community and voluntary groups each year and we are delighted to help celebrate the amazing breadth and diversity of voluntary and community work happening in Sheffield.” 

The judging panel comprised Debbie Matthews, VAS chair and CEO of Manor and Castle Development Trust; Richard Wright, CEO of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce; George Connell from Sheffield Town Trust and Alyson Fender OBE, an independent lay member.


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