Charity Camp Simcha has been recognised for its good practice in volunteer management with a JVN Heart of the Community award.

Stuart Etherington, chairman of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, who presented the award to Camp Simcha’s Head of Services and Volunteering Daniel Gillis, said: “The judges noted this was a particularly tough one to call. Daniel was chosen as the winner due the numerous ways he makes volunteers feel at home at Camp Simcha and the ways in which he shows the volunteers that he and the organisation appreciate everything they do.

“Many volunteers after they step down go on to fundraise to complete challenge events and even apply for professional roles within the charity due to the family the team creates.”

Volunteers are at the heart of the service provided by Camp Simcha, which supports families coping with serious childhood illness. Its Big Brother and Sister volunteers are trained to be special friends for seriously ill children and their siblings – or ‘ambassadors of fun’ in CEO Neville Goldschneider’s words.

Mr Goldschneider said: “We are thrilled that the JVN has recognised the fantastic work of Daniel and his team with this award for good practice. Our volunteers are so important – they visit the children we support on a weekly basis, planning fun activities and also taking them on Camp Simcha outings, joining them at retreat.”

“We know though that this vital job they do isn’t always easy, but Daniel and his team make it a priority to ensure they get everything they need from us in terms of support, but also that it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

Volunteer Hannah Goldstein said: “While I knew about the work Camp Simcha did and wanted to be part of that, honestly, the reason contacted them originally was because they have such a good reputation for looking after their volunteers.

“The team are so respectful and appreciative of our time and incredibly flexible which is really important when you are trying to work around a university or work schedule.”

Another volunteer praised the support she received from the charity after the little girl she supported passed away.

She said: “I can honestly say her death was one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with but Daniel and Camp Simcha were with me every step of the way.  I felt so supported in the weeks and months that followed. It was obvious that Daniel and his team prioritise a volunteer’s well-being when the worst happens and that there is an excellent support system in place.”

Daniel said: “We are really honoured and humbled to receive this JVN award, which is definitely a testament to the great team of staff at Camp Simcha. Our volunteers are the life blood of charity and we are all so grateful for the incredible commitment and love they give the families we support.”