Grove Cottage member and volunteer, Ben Wallace, 25, was delighted to receive a Personal Award at the 2019 High Sherriff of Hertfordshire Awards on Thursday 14th March for his involvement with Grove Cottage. The award recognises Ben’s personal growth and development which he has gained through ongoing volunteering both at Grove Cottage @ Thirst Youth Café, as well as within the Grove Cottage Special Needs Nursery.
The annual awards held at County Hall in Hertford, celebrated the excellent work undertaken by charitable groups and individuals who have made a significant contribution to Hertfordshire’s communities.
Ben Wallace, a member of Grove Cottage – the home of Mencap in Bishop’s Stortford, has been volunteering at the Grove Cottage @Thirst Youth Café for over two years, as well as helping out in the Nursery one afternoon a week.
The Grove Cottage Café, which runs from the Thirst Youth Café on South Street, Bishop’s Stortford (hired from BSYP), is run by Grove Cottage on Wednesday and Thursdays during term-time between 10am and 2pm and offers a place for people with learning disabilities to volunteer and gain much valued work experience. Life Skills sessions are also run from the café and provide courses for members on topics such as food hygiene and employability skills. For those who don’t wish to volunteer, it also serves as a wonderful place to socialise and make new friends.
When Ben first started volunteering at the café he would attend with support workers but now has the confidence to travel on the bus independently. The independence and social skills that Ben has learnt at the café have enabled him to start volunteering at Grove Cottage’s Ofsted-regulated Special Needs Nursery. He now has new skills and a new-found confidence in his own abilities. He understands money more, says he feels more independent and has learnt valuable employability skills – he has even applied for some paid work. He loves seeing his friends and would recommend volunteering at the café to anyone.
Ben said: “I am so happy to be presented with this award. I love going to the Café each week and also helping with the children in the Nursery. It has helped me to gain confidence, make new friends and learn lots of new skills.”
Freya Boittier, Manager at the Grove Cottage @Thirst Youth Café and staff member within the Nursery commented: “Ben is a well-respected and liked member and he enjoys coming to the Café every week and takes his responsibilities of waiting on our customers and being a resident DJ very seriously. He is also a great asset in the Nursery. Ben often says he would just sit at home all day if it wasn’t for his weekly volunteering and socialising at Grove Cottage; hearing this gives me and everyone that works with Ben huge pride and job satisfaction. We are all so proud of how far he has come and how much he has achieved.”
Suzy Harvey, the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire said: “I was thrilled to present Ben with his High Sheriff’s Personal Award. He is a wonderful young man, volunteering his time to help others in the cafe and nursery and during my visits to both I could see he was an integral part of the team. He is a shining example of a young person giving back to his community,
a fantastic role model and a true asset to Grove Cottage.”
Helen Gray, Foundation Director for Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF) said: “On behalf of HCF I would like to personally congratulate Ben who is a worthy winner of this award. It’s wonderful that his personal growth, commitment and enthusiasm can be celebrated. HCF was delighted to once again be involved in the High Sheriff Awards which gives countywide recognition to the outstanding work of groups and individuals working for the for the benefit of the community.”