The awards are a community-funded event auspiced by The Factory Community Centre. The Waterloo and Redfern Neighbourhood Advisory Board Events Group which runs the awards received over 200 individual nominations this year, including the SSH’s own Sandra Beeston.
Executive Officer of The Factory, Mike Shreenan, who initiated the Volunteers Awards seven years ago, had to miss the day to keep The Factory doors open, and it didn’t seem quite right listening to someone without a Glaswegian accent reading Mike’s speech. Still, the message of pride in his adopted community shone through.
“[I] find it interesting that people always assume when you say, ‘I work in Redfern-Waterloo’ that you therefore work in a ‘poor community’… but the fact of the matter is I am working in a rich community, a community that I am proud to work for, one that is rich in culture, diversity, commitment, passion, tenacity and neighbourliness, something you will see a lot of other communities struggle to develop.
“The level of volunteering and the difference it makes is massive. Volunteering not only demonstrates this country’s commitment to mateship; volunteering leads to tangible changes in policies, service delivery, in people’s day to day lives and even saves lives. Volunteers achieve more than any NGO or government could ever claim to achieve. That is why it’s important that we recognise it, celebrate it and continue to invest in it. With over 200 nominations this year – representing hundreds more individuals behind them – it equates to millions of dollars of in-kind labour and it speaks volumes, or should, to those who complain about apathetic communities … it demonstrates that they are talking shit. On behalf of The Factory Community Centre board and staff team, along with our partners, I say thanks a million, you are all pure dead brilliant (as they say in Glasgow).”