A Burnham-On-Sea community group has won a top volunteer award during National Volunteers’ Week to recognise the time and commitment it gives to the local area.

Voluntary organisations and members of the public across Somerset were asked in February to nominate ‘Somerset Star’ volunteers who deserve special recognition for the voluntary work they do.

Over 70 STAR volunteer nominations were received from across the county and each nominee was invited to attend special district events during National Volunteers’ Week. From each of the five districts, one volunteer was crowned the district winner by local voluntary organisations Engage and Spark.

Hands of Change won the Sedgemoor district award. It started in January 2016 as a small group of friends wanting to do some good in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge. Just over a year later, they now have 538 members.

They work on the basis that a little kindness can go a long way. Hands of Change have organised and run a wide range of activities in the community, including a fortnightly tea party for elderly and isolated people, a monthly craft session for people with mental health issues, a fortnightly social group for people with aspergers and autism, and a fortnightly drop-in for anyone at all. They also ran a Christmas party for isolated and elderly people in partnership with a local restaurant.

They have a children’s group that recently helped restore a sensory garden at a local community centre, and they have a regular walking group.

They have also collected clothing for a homeless person and arranged with a local restaurant for a ‘pay it forward’ tree, where diners can leave a donation on the tree, so someone who is homeless can go and have a free meal.

A Hands of Change spokeswoman thanked everyone who voted and gave an update on its latest project to help a local homeless man which we recently featured here.

“Thanks go to the generosity of everyone who donated items, which includes a lady from Oxford who used to visit Burnham for her holidays as a child. The homeless person, Matthew, is now in a local B&B.”

“He is grateful to have a safe, comfortable bed as well as things we would take for granted, like being able to make himself a cup of tea.”

“Our volunteers have been supporting him by working on his CV, providing food and smart clothes for potential interviews. They are hoping that this will give him the best opportunity possible to improve his situation.”

“We welcome new volunteers to help us in the community. If you are interested we can be found on facebook or by email at handsofchangebos@gmail.com.

Cllr David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “We are very proud of all our Somerset volunteers who tirelessly give up some of their spare time to help others. Volunteers do so much to help others and this is a chance to recognise the fantastic work they do. A huge well done to all those who were nominated and particularly to those who were crowned district champions last week. The County’s ultimate Star Volunteer winner will be announced at the Chairman’s Awards in the autumn.”