Two Tower Hamlets residents supported by Clarion Futures named Platinum Champions in recognition of volunteering

Following a weekend celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, two women from Tower Hamlets have been recognised for their volunteering as part of the Royal Voluntary Service’s Platinum Champions Awards.

For more than 30 years, Lorraine Walsh has been running the Tredegar Community Centre in Bow, making a difference to so many people’s lives. Volunteering her free time, she manages the community centre with support and funding from Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, and organises activities to meet the needs of local residents, helping to tackle loneliness and isolation.

During the pandemic, she worked tirelessly to keep up people’s spirits, and the Centre has now reopened, with activities five days a week such as a Somali women’s sewing group, bowls, bingo and so much more.

Another local resident to be named a Platinum Champion, Safia Jama is the founder of Women’s Inclusive Team (WIT), a charity based in Tower Hamlets supporting and empowering women from black and minority ethnic communities and providing a wealth of opportunities including youth and employability programmes and mental health support.

Safia has dedicated two decades to volunteering, and when the pandemic hit she swiftly adapted, responding to the sudden hardships facing local people. With the help of more than 300 volunteers, Safia set up a food bank and kitchen which provided food parcels and hot meals to hundreds of local people, as well as a telephone befriending service to tackle loneliness. Since April 2020, WIT volunteers have given almost 11,000 hours of service, with funding provided by partners including Clarion Futures.

Launched by the Royal Voluntary Service in honour of their Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, the Platinum Champions Awards are an official Jubilee project to celebrate outstanding volunteers across the country who are making a difference every day.

Thousands of people aged from 16 to 101 from all over the UK were nominated and from these nominations, 490 volunteers were hand-picked by a judging panel presided over by The Duchess of Cornwall. All 490 Platinum Champions receive a specially designed pin and a signed certificate from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

Safia was amongst 70 Platinum Champions selected by the judging panel to attend the Platinum Party at the Palace on Saturday 4 June and the Eden Project’s Big Jubilee Lunch in London on Sunday 5 June where she met Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall. Safia also received an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List.

Lorraine Walsh said:
“I’ve been volunteering at the Tredegar Community Centre for longer than I care to remember but it’s something I love to do, helping to bring local people together. When I found out I’d been selected as a Platinum Champion I couldn’t believe it – things like that don’t happen to people like me. It’s a real honour and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had from Clarion Futures over the years as I couldn’t do what I do without them.”

Safia Jama MBE said:
“Being named a Platinum Champion is such amazing news and I couldn’t wait to share it with the rest of the volunteers that make up Women’s Inclusive Team. This award is for them as much as it is for me, and I’d also like to say thank you to the amazing team at Clarion for nominating me and most importantly, for always supporting the work that WIT does.”

Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures, said:
“Lorraine and Safia are great examples of the power of volunteering and the difference it can make to communities, and we’re delighted to have supported them through Clarion Futures. It’s fantastic to see their contribution to Tower Hamlets recognised with them being named Platinum Champions – an honour that’s very well deserved.”