A Yorkshire homelessness charity has hosted its first Supporters Party and awards ceremony.
Simon on the Streets organised the event to celebrate its dedicated supporters who go the extra mile to raise vital funds and awareness for the charity, which is solely funded by donations and partnerships.
Established in 1999, Simon on the Streets is a local, independent charity which supports those sleeping rough or at risk of rough sleeping in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield.
The organisation offers outreach support on both an emotional and practical basis, as often these individuals struggle with complex mental and behavioural issues which prevents them from accessing mainstream services.
The event, which took place at Parkside Tavern, saw more than 60 people in attendance for an evening of celebration and recognition of the outstanding contributions from the charity’s champions.
The inaugural Simon on the Streets Supporter and Volunteer awards saw winners in various categories receiving a trophy for their contribution and dedication to the cause.
The charity’s two longest-serving volunteers, Steve Taylor and Alastair Bowie, who have collectively been working with the charity for 36 years received the award for ‘Long- Term Contribution’.
Sam Toolsie, who supports the charity with her time and skills continuously, including photographing the majority of the charity’s events, was awarded the ‘Outstanding Contribution’ award.
Peter Haughton was named as the ‘Most Enthusiastic Volunteer’ award, due to always being happy and willing to help the charity with anything they need.
The award for the ‘Most Innovative Fundraising Idea’ went to David Stoneman, who raised funds for the charity and also broke a Guinness World Record for the fastest person to run the London Marathon in their pyjamas.
David said: “I see more and more people who have had to resort to sleeping rough on my way to and from work every day and I wanted to support what Simon on the Streets is doing for them in the local area. Breaking the world record for the fastest time running a marathon in Pyjamas was the best I could come up with.
Long distance running is usually a lonely pastime so I have been taken aback by the fact so many people took an interest in the attempt, to also then receive the recognition of the award for most innovative fund-raising idea from the charity was the cherry on the icing on the cake.
Leeds-based businessman, Tim Collins, received the award for “Most Innovative Corporate Support”. Tim has raised substantial funds for the charity as part of his business’s corporate social responsibility initiative, the ‘Pay Fair’ scheme. Through the scheme Tim suggests an hourly rate, and any payments made above the hourly rate are donated directly to Simon on the Streets. Tim also recently marked the company’s success by donating the full payment received from its 500th client.
The final award for “Faith in Humanity”, was granted to Manjit Kaur, who runs the award-winning Manjit’s Kitchen in Leeds Kirkgate Market. Following an extremely negative experience in which she was racially and physically abused by a homeless woman, Manjit decided to turn this negative into a positive by organising a raffle for the charity.
Manjit’s raffle, which raised almost £6000 for Simon on the Streets, gained widespread coverage and inspired many people across the region to come together for the cause.
Manjit Kaur said: “The supporters party was a great night. It was good to meet the volunteers and find out more about the work they do. I’m honoured to receive the award and we are hoping to do the raffle again this year.”
The event also featured an interactive KwizzBit quiz, live music from local rock and blues band Snake Oil, a raffle offering a range of prizes, as well as a speech from Gordon Laing, general manager at Simon on the Streets, in which he outlined the mission and values of the charity, and appreciation for the dedicated supporters.
General manager at Simon on the Streets, Gordon Laing said: “We had a fantastic time at the Supporters Party, it was great to be able to show our supporters how much we appreciate them and especially provide awards for a couple of those that have gone above and beyond to help over the last few years.
“We’re delighted that so many people came along to celebrate with us. With homelessness so prominent across the region, it’s really great to see people come together to support our hard work in helping homeless people turn their lives around.”