WEA West Midlands Volunteer Celebration and Awards 2016

WEA West Midlands Volunteer Celebration and Awards 2016

WEA West Midlands Volunteer Celebration And Awards 2016

July 12, 2016

To show our appreciation and impact our volunteers have in the community we decided to hold our regional volunteer celebration event on Friday 10th June, in line with National Volunteers week, at Austin Court.  We wanted to show our volunteers they deserve recognition for all the contributions they make in helping the WEA achieve its mission and to celebrate in style!

The day kicked off with an overview of the volunteers amazing achievements by our Regional Chair, Neil Bromley. He spoke about the success of student volunteering scheme in the West Midlands which seeks to attract undergraduates and graduates from all walks of life to volunteer on a placement or internship with the WEA and the wider benefits of volunteering as a whole on health and wellbeing.

Neil then handed over the first half of the morning to one of our guest speakers, Pearl Ryall, (the Membership and Volunteer Development Manager, WEA Association Services) who spoke about the value and impact of volunteering nationally across the WEA.

Up next was our next speaker Neena Chauhan, Regional Communications Support and Volunteer Coordinator for the WEA West Midlands, who presented her experience of regional student volunteering programme.


 Neena spoke about attracting young people from Universities in the Midlands including University of Birmingham and Aston University has delivered key communications, marketing, administrative and impact support to the region. As a result these volunteers have developed skills that are contributing towards being prepared for employment.

What better way to showcase this then in action! So Neena presented a video showcasing our regional volunteers from all walks of life which positively received by the audience.

You can view the video below:

Our regional volunteers in action! .. Watch our volunteers from all walks of life make incredible contributions to the WEA's vision of 'a better world - equal democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society!

After the video there was some live case studies from Umi Mungula and Angela Conway who shared their journey from being a WEA volunteer to rightfully earning their spot as a WEA employees

Angela started her journey from WEA volunteer (Classroom Support) to a support worker due to her dedication and long-term commitment for the WEA. 

“I decided to apply to volunteer as support with the next enrolled course at Northside and was accepted!  It was most definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was an incredible moment when I realized my tutor thought I was capable of such a role.  I applied and was interviewed and accepted!  I have just started paid work with the WEA after eight months of volunteering”

Alison Taylor, Former Volunteer NOW WEA Support Worker

Umi continued and shared her journey from volunteering in the regional office (Communications support and Administration) to securing her position as Regional Administrator with HR responsibilities. She made an inspiring speech encouraging even more students to get involved…

“I would encourage anyone who is a student or a graduate to volunteer to gain new skills because being in a working environment of a big /small company you are able to learn new skills and gain valuable experience and knowledge that will give you confidence in anything that you choose to do in life."   

Umi Mungula, Former WEA Volunteer NOW WEA Regional Administrator

The day moved on to presentation of our Regional Volunteer Awards where Neil was joined by West Midlands Regional Education Manager, Louise Williams.

The awards were presented to those with exceptional volunteering achievements and were awarded in 3 categories:

1.    Supporting educational activity & students

2.    Marketing, recruitment & outreach

3.    Supporting operations & delivery

Firstly there was supporting educational activity & students. This was awarded to Alison Taylor.

“Alison provides invaluable support to the tutor she normally works with enabling greater involvement of all students in the classroom and study group visit activities.

She promotes volunteering opportunities in the community and acts as an ambassador for WEA”

(Luda Ruddock,  New Links Project Coordinator, WEA Coventry)

The Marketing, recruitment & outreach award went to Dennis Tran Duy Thinh.

“Dennis has been involved in many key communication elements in the WEA. He approaches each task with ease and works in such an efficient manner whilst tailoring his work to his style and creativity. He is an amazing asset to the WEA and I am very proud of his input and achievement.  He has had nothing but positive feedback from colleagues at the WEA and our students”

Neena Chauhan, Regional Communications Support and Volunteer Coordinator


Supporting operations & delivery was won by Jenny Silcock.

Jenny has built the branch up into a valuable stimulating force in the town. She has the insight and persuasive abilities to weld together an effective and forward-looking committee and continually to seek out and recruit new and interesting tutors and workers. It is hard tooverestimate Jenny's role in galvanisingthe committee and building up the influence and standing of the WEA branch in the town

Gerald Brooke, WEA Tutor

There was also one more award to deliver, the Wendy Fenn Award. This award is open to individuals or groups to recognise a particular volunteering activity or involvement over a long period of time and was presented to two winners, Gaele Pons and Jim Walsh.

"Gaele and Jim have both been volunteering for about 18 months. They help with promoting the WEA at events, in the local libraries and at Asda. Jim also distributes printed publicity widely around Telford and Gaele helps out with promoting courses via social media. Both have visited a range of local classes to speak to students and collect learner stories.

Both Gaele and Jim have busy lives but give up as much time as they can spare to help the WEA locally. They are always cheerful and positive and are great ambassadors for the WEA”

Sheila Bregeon (WEA Shropshire Programme Area Manager)

Each winner was congratulated by our Regional Education Manager and thoroughly praised for their amazing contribution and hard work and provided with a certificate and gift vouchers.

During lunch attendees had a chance to network, take pictures , some of which were in our self made selfie booth!

After lunch, we held a ‘Success masterclass’ by Karen Strunks.

Karen Strunks is a speaker, author and mentor for daring, ambitious people who know they were not born for the norm and who want something more from life. Her work has been featured in print, TV and radio such as The Guardian, BBC, Radio 4, Time Out NYC, The Telegraph, BBC Radio Wales. She regularly speaks at conferences and lectures at universities on entrepreneurship and leadership and aims to empower others to take massive action and follow their passions.

In the afternoon she delivered a masterclass on Working Smarter, the Power of Digital and the Mindset. Karen spoke out about the ambition of gaining more from life and throughout your employment. She spoke about regaining motivation, inspiration and remaining positive in hectic and busy day to day life. Some of her tips and advice included:

1.    Asserting your right to be you

2.    Expressing yourself

3.    Giving up worry

4.    Don’t be afraid of the big NO

To conclude the event was significant for the WEA West Midlands as we launched our new awards for volunteers and wanted to give an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of all our volunteers as a region.  The event clearly shows the scale and impact the volunteers have for the WEA.

What attendees thought about the EVENT....

"Huge congratulations to all the winners and nominees for their achievements! We are grateful for all your time and support"

"A very inspiring and invigorating day"

"Really enjoyed hearing from volunteers and their experiences. Also really liked the workshop in the afternoon by Karen"

"To have a chance to chat with some of the award winners to learn more of their work, to feel that this WAS a worthwhile event to attend and that the WEA continues to meet many educational and community needs"

"A fun and uplifting event, well done to everyone who organised it!"