News / Barnet’s Unsung Heroes Celebrated in Awards Ceremony

Barnet’s Unsung Heroes Celebrated in Awards Ceremony

News / Blog / Community Awards

F&BF Communications

31 / 01 / 22

By Nick McDonald

Places of worship hosting a vaccine drive, mental health initiatives, organising foodbanks, inspiring youth schemes, environmental projects…these are just some of the areas where Barnet residents benefit directly from the involvement of organisations and groups with faith and belief at their core – and yet they often go unnoticed.

The Barnet Faith & Belief Awards looked to change this, gifting £250 to 5 amazing projects that have worked tirelessly to exceptionally improve the lives of Barnet residents, a partnership between Barnet Multi Faith Forum, Middlesex University and the Faith & Belief Forum.

At the inaugural awards ceremony, on the 26th January, the winners of the Barnet Faith & Belief Awards were announced in 5 categories, along with performances and speeches by key figures. President for the Barnet Multi Faith Forum Esmond Rosen said it was “an amazing evening of high drama from beginning to end, showcasing what the faith sector has achieved for the benefit of all who live, work, learn, study, play and pray in Barnet.”

The 19 inspirational projects shortlisted were scrutinised by a judging panel made of leading figures in Barnet’s community sector, including Martin Russell DL and Cllr Caroline Stock, amongst others. They had the difficult job of whittling down these shortlisted projects into the Award winners.

The award categories and the winners of the evening were:

  • Environmental Sustainability: MTO Sustainability (MTO Shahmaghsoudi, School of Islamic Sufism) won by demonstrating their commitment to environmental sustainability in the design, construction and operation of their buildings; the maintenance of green spaces; as well as their partnerships with local environmentally minded charities and organisations.
  • Health and Wellbeing: Burnt Oak Community Food Bank was starting in March 2021, and has already helped over 10,000 local people with a steady group of 17 volunteers to provide a range of items for those locally in need.
  • Inspiring Youth: The Bahai Community of Barnet channelled their youthful energy and enthusiasm into supporting the local community with spiritual, emotional, physical and practical needs, including English classes for asylum seekers.
  • Outstanding Initiative in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic: The Paperweight Trust provides multi-generational support to those in the Jewish Community struggling with multiple issues. The Trust dealt with over 3000 separate case issues, in 2021 alone, accounting for more than 50,000 volunteering hours.
  • Interfaith Relations: Together in Barnet is a night shelter that has been successfully supporting people experiencing homelessness for over 17 years, and won in this category due to the initiative of provided essential care packages with over 20 volunteers twice a week to over 100 clients who had been placed into Temporary Accommodation across 8 London boroughs.

There was also a special commendation for Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, the first mandir to open a Covid Vaccination Centre, which vaccinated over 20,000 people from January to May 2021.

The prizes were generously provided by the Barnet Group, who manage work to prevent homelessness by managing over 15,000 council homes across the borough.

Professor Nic Beech, Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University shared how “it feels more important than ever to work together to support one another, to respond to the needs on our doorstep and in wider society.”

Malcolm Deboo, President Zoroastrian Trust Fund of Europe, said he was honoured to be part the awards judging panel, as it gave an opportunity to learn what is being done in Barnet to improve life for all. He said the Zoroastrian community recognizes “these Awards will raise the profile of the groups and individuals who converted challenges into opportunities to empower others and build an increased sense of wellbeing, while seeking to build fellowship based on taking the right action to increase sharing resources and building happiness for all in Barnet.”

Jessica Hazrati, Programmes Officer for the Faith & Belief Forum highlighted the importance of celebrating these inspiration groups, saying that “this work that happens at the grassroots often goes unnoticed by wider society, due to the humility of those delivering the work but also sometimes due to incorrect assumptions about the role and influence of faith and belief in society.”

You can watch the show here:

YouTube video

This project was possible with the kind support of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London’s Council on Faith and the City Bridge Trust.  


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