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Charity loses her fear and wins big!

Who’s been making the news round your way this week?

29 November, 2019 — By Calum Fraser and Nick Ferris

Volunteer of the Year Charity Nyirenda at the award ceremony with Positively UK co-worker David Riddington

A woman with HIV says that volunteer work made her feel “free”. Charity Suzyo Nyirenda, 49, was named Volunteer of the Year in the 2019 Voluntary Action Islington awards at a prize-giving ceremony in Pentonville Road on Wednesday night.

Charity, who was born in Zambia, was diagnosed with the disease in 2003 and she was terrified of telling anyone. “My consultants told me about support groups I could go to but I was scared to go in case I met people from my country,” she says. “There is a stigma there. You would be disowned and called all sorts of names.”

She was eventually convinced to go along in 2007 and they recommend that she start volunteering.

More than a decade on she credits her volunteer work with transforming her life, especially an advertising campaign with the Terrence Higgins Trust where her face was put on posters around the country. “When I saw that campaign, I was jumping up and down. I said to myself, I am free. I am not hiding, I am sticking up for other people and I will help educate people to be tested,” she says.

She now volunteers regularly with Islington-based charity Positively UK which supports people living with HIV.

Charity also helped launch the Catwalk4Power project in 2017 when dozens of women with HIV attended workshops to build up to a catwalk performance. “We made very elaborate masks, as well as the clothes, so that the

women could hide their identity,” she says. “They were very nervous. But on the day of the show they threw off their masks and it made me feel very happy. They were not scared to show themselves and it was empowering.”

Sherrie Giraud was named Young Volunteer of the Year for her help supporting people with disabilities learn mixed martial arts. The Older Volunteer of the Year award went to Wendy Barnes; while Volunteering Team of the Year was won by the shop and gallery assistants at Peter Bedford Outpost Shop and Gallery in Holloway Road. Centre 404s Paul Formosa was recognised with the Pat Haynes Memorial Trustee of the Year award.

Renato’s care work reaps reward

Renato Alteza receives an award for Dignity in Care from Earl Elliot of Cheverton Lodge

An Islington care home worker has been crowned a winner at the London edition of the 2019 Great British Care Awards.

Renato Alteza, who works at Cheverton Lodge near Archway, received the Dignity in Care Award for the London region on

November 16. More than 400 care workers were there to see him win at a ceremony held at the Hilton in Bankside.

Renato now qualifies for the national finals. He says working in care has its “challenging moments” but believes it all becomes worth it “when you win an award like this”.

He added: “I wish to thank my team and my peers for their support, and all my lovely residents and families. I will do them proud at the National Awards in 2020.”

The judges said: “Renato is a devoted Cheverton Lodge staff member who has contributed to the success of the home. He takes a lot of pride in knowing his residents well, and keeping up the staff morale so challenging days feel easier.”

The London Regional Awards are part of a series of nine regional awards celebrating excellence across the care sector.

Cheverton Lodge was classified as ‘Good’ at its last Care Quality Commission assessment in 2017. It is run by Barchester Healthcare, whose managing director Natasha Lazovic said they were “immensely proud” of Renato’s achievement.

The national finals of the Great British Care Awards will be held at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre on March 20.

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