Berkhamsted charity Sunnyside Rural Trust recognised for going above and beyond during the pandemic
High Sheriff Awards celebrate charitable projects in Hertfordshire
Sunnyside Rural Trust was among the charities recognised at the High Sheriff Awards hosted by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Henry Holland-Hibbert.
Ten representatives from the charity, based in Northchurch, joined the online celebration for the spectacular work that has taken place by voluntary groups and individuals in Hertfordshire, in quite exceptional circumstances.
Henry Holland-Hibbert, the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire publicly recognised and rewarded eight voluntary organisations in the county at the 2021 High Sheriff Awards ceremony held virtually, on March 11.
The 26th High Sheriff Awards wanted to recognise groups that have shown particular excellence in supporting their local communities or beneficiaries during this pandemic.
The awards focused on highlighting Hertfordshire organisations who went above and beyond to help their communities during the pandemic.
Henry Holland-Hibbert said: “Although my year as High Sheriff was in no way a traditional High Sheriff year, I was fortunate to engage with so many wonderful charities and voluntary groups.
"Through these organisations I have seen the very best of the spirit of Hertfordshire, the resilience and the determination to make things happen and to give support to others, in truly challenging circumstances.
“Members of the judging panel were inspired by each of the nominated organisations and it was an extremely difficult job for the panel to shortlist the winning organisations.
“I am delighted to have had this opportunity to recognise the exceptional work done by so many in Hertfordshire to support those in need in their communities during the pandemic.
"It is an honour to celebrate and share their successes and thank them for the exceptional difference they make to the lives of others in our county during these extraordinary times.”
Sunnyside Rural Trust offers training and employment to young people and adults with learning disabilities across three sites, including two farm shops and a café.
During the pandemic it adapted its services and provided activity kits to young people and adults at risk.
It also ran courses to provided therapeutic support through animal care to those suffering with mental health issues.
The charity has also raised funds and is now building a bakery, which will offer employment to vulnerable people and fresh bread for the community.
During the pandemic, Sunnyside has been able to offer vital services to its vulnerable trainees, families and the wider community, reacting quickly and adapting to the changing situation as it has and continues to unfold.
The charity began by ensuring it could operate safely and then looked at resources so that it could help in the wider community.
This included valuable respite for parents and carers, supporting families of their trainees to work by continuing to offer a service, outreach support to people’s homes and ensuring trainees had a robust understanding of how to stay safe.
Keely Siddiqui Charlick, CEO, said: "We all feel very proud of the work we do and how we have sustained our creative and innovative response reflects our commitment to our community.
"To have been presented with a Heroes of Hertfordshire award and High Sheriff Award, means so much to our team, volunteers and trainees."
The other groups recognised were:
> The Hospice of St Francis, Berkhamsted: Since the pandemic the hospice found new ways to care, underpinned by the belief that no one should die alone, and no carer should be isolated. Seen as a lifeline during lockdown its nurses provide a much-needed hand in all the darkness and its inpatient unit is treating very unwell people who would have previously been treated in hospital.
> Electric Umbrella: A collaboration of professional musicians and learning-disabled people; writing, experiencing and performing music and using music to combat social isolation for learning disabled people.
> Drum (Disability Recreation Unity Movement): Provides activities, services and support to adults with physical and/or sensory disabilities living in South West Hertfordshire.
> Playskill: Provides free expert therapy and support in a playgroup setting for children living with a disability.
> Small Acts of Kindness: The group distribute practical gifts and information that reduce the negative impact that feeling lonely. During lockdowns it has provided cooked meals to over 70 older people and provided over 3,000 activity and gift bags to older people across the county. In addition, it distributed 7,000 warm winter bags to help older people across the county.
In recognition of their outstanding work, each organisation received a financial contribution funded through the High Sheriff’s Fund, a charitable fund managed by Hertfordshire Community Foundation.
Helen Gray, foundation director for Hertfordshire Community Foundation said: “We are delighted to once again be involved in the High Sheriff Awards which give countywide recognition to the outstanding work of groups in Hertfordshire.
"This year’s awards are even more significant as they are a wonderful way to give recognition to some of the organisations that have helped Hertfordshire’s most vulnerable residents during the pandemic. Congratulations to each of the award winners.”
In addition to the High Sheriff Awards, High Sheriff Personal Awards were also presented to the following organisations:
> Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Youth Engagement Team and Volunteers: Engage children, young people and their families in supporting the wider community and promoting the fire service message of fire safety and prevention. During the Covid-19 pandemic the Youth Engagement Team provided pharmaceutical deliveries to shielded and vulnerable residents.
> Feed Up Warm Up: Provides drop-in centres once a week in both Hitchin and Stevenage where those who are homeless or in need can receive food, clothing, care and support.