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Wokingham student wins volunteering award

University student Victoria Taylor from Wokingham has won a prestigious award for her commitment to volunteering at the Invisible Walls project in HMP/YOI Winchester.

Victoria (23) offers support and guidance to families visiting the prison by staffing the play area and Visitor Centre, run by Spurgeons Children’s Charity, as part of her BSc (Hons) Sociology and Criminology degree at the University of Portsmouth.

Victoria impressed the judges to win her Best Newcomer award, with her volunteering duties which include welcoming the children and families of inmates to the prison to ensure they have a positive visiting experience. Victoria also supports play activities with the children.

Spurgeons’ volunteering coordinator Vicky Baird said: “We are delighted that Victoria’s hard work, commitment and enthusiasm has been recognised through this award. We are always astounded at the dedication our volunteers give and so pleased to have had the opportunity to celebrate the support volunteers like Victoria give to children and families during what can often be a very traumatic time”.

The annual volunteering and community engagement awards at the University of Portsmouth provide an opportunity to celebrate the volunteering partnerships between students and the community. This includes Spurgeons Children’s Charity, which provides training and support while students volunteer.

Victoria said: “I was really happy when I won the award for Best Newcomer; it was such a pleasant surprise. It was great to be recognised for the work that I have done at such a lovely evening. I have really enjoyed volunteering with Spurgeons. I have met so many interesting people and have improved many of my own skills. The way the charity helps out offenders and their families is of great interest to me. I even completed my final year dissertation on offenders’ families and was very keen to help a charity that makes a positive impact to these families’ lives”.