Sova Celebrates!

Sova’s 40th Birthday celebrations conclude with our annual Staff Conference and Volunteer Awards Evening. 

November has been a very busy month for Sova staff and volunteers, proving the perfect antidote to the approach of winter weather!

On the 9th of November staff from across the organisation travelled to Birmingham to attend our annual staff conference – which this year had a birthday party theme! Staff enjoyed party-themed icebreakers and team building games and sessions on Mindfulness by Ruth Bradley from RMB training and Juliet Yardley from Laughology ; both of which gave our amazing staff team skills to take back to the workplace for the year ahead.

There were two particular highlights during the day. The first came from service user Andrew who lit up the room with his heart-warming story about the support he had received from Sova staff and volunteers – all agreed that he had confidence and communication skills well beyond his years. The second was the Value Awards. In preparation for the conference staff had nominated their colleagues to receive an award for Passion, Fairness, Focus and Integrity – Sova’s newly launched values. Winners were announced throughout the day to much cheer and celebration. None can deny how worthy our winners were:

Fairness - Imran Rasool, Sova METRO (Birmingham)

Integrity - Craig Milner, Sova Mentoring North East (North)

Focus - Mya Pincott, Sova Families First (Cardiff)

Passion - Amana Wilkins, Sova – Strengthening Communities Programme Manager (London)

On the 20th of November volunteers from all Sova project were invited to attend our first national Volunteer Awards evening in over 10 years. Volunteers enjoyed the glitz and glamour of our Oscar-style awards evening; which saw them entertained by magician Sean Carpenter, local musician Chris Tye and our DJs Sam and Joe.

Now an old hand at speaking at such events, service user Andrew once again spoke about his experiences with Sova, leaving everyone in the room with a very clear impression of the value of volunteering!

As with the staff conference, volunteers had also been nominated for values awards. Chief Operating Officer Sophie Wilson and National Quality and Participation manager, Chris Black were delighted to announce the winners. Whilst two of our winners were unable to attend the evening it was touching to hear Ruw Fletcher speak about Passion winner James ‘Jimmy’ Lawlor, and incredibly moving to hear Darren Smith reflect on not just the dedication that Volunteer of the Year Linda Rigby has shown over her 16 years of volunteering with us, but of all Sova volunteers – without whom we simply could not deliver our services.

 Whilst originally conceived as part of our 40th birthday celebrations, Sova are already considering how we can make the evening an annual event.

Our winners on the evening were –


Runner Up  : Carol Walker – Sova Thames Valley

Winner :  Charlotte Pitt – Sova Moving Forward (Wales)


Runner Up:  Ross Levy – Sova Nottingham FIP

Winner:  Emma Hooper – Sova Herts Projects


Runners up : Rita Tromblin & Jodie Oware – Sova Support Link (London)

Winner: Sarah Mander - Sova Staffordshire and Shropshire Young Peoples Project


Runner Up: Lucia Thompson – Sova Camden Young Peoples Project

Winner: James Lawlor – Sova METRO (Birmingham)

Special Awards

Sova Ambassador : Andrew

Sova Legend : Stan Blacklock

Volunteer of the Year  

Linda Rigby – Sova Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley Appropriate Adult Scheme

Reflecting on both events, Sophie Wilson stated: “At our national volunteering event, a member of staff said to me that Sova was the best organisation she had ever worked for. I replied to her that Sova is only the sum of its parts. The staff, volunteers and service users are what make Sova the very special organisation it is. Being able to recognise the contribution of our staff and volunteers in living out our values of Passion, Integrity, Focus and Fairness was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate what we do and I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. I had an absolutely brilliant time at both events, and cannot wait to do it all again next year! My congratulations go to the winners and runners up of the awards, but also my thanks goes to all our staff and volunteers for the work they do; day in and day out, in support of our service users” 

Craig, Imran, Mya and Amana - our award winning staff
Mira and Tryone are ready for their closeup the Volunteer Celebration Evening!
Project Manager Darren Smith accepts the Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Linda Rigby