Team of the Year


Category criteria

  • This category is open to teams of employees working within any sector and within any size of business.

  • The team could form a department with a business or, within smaller organisations, perhaps the entire workforce could be classed as the team.

  • The team will have proven success in encouraging one another’s strengths and leveraging these to achieve results.

SYTECH Consultants

Team of the Year entrant

From its offices in Stoke-on-Trent and South Wales SYTECH provides all aspects of digital forensics and cyber services for national public and major blue chip organisations.
Founded in 1978, the company works predominantly on behalf of the Criminal Justice System and associated stakeholders.
It has a highly experienced, multi-disciplinary team of professional expert witnesses and analysts who specialise in complementary areas, working to understand the unique requirements of each business.
SYTECH secured eight new contracts with a projected value of £11 million over the last 12 months. The business won a series of competitive tenders for public sector bodies including four separate police forces, Police Digital Services and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
For several contracts SYTECH will provide a comprehensive service to secure, recover and evaluate digital evidence for criminal, civil or corporate investigations, covering all aspects of computer forensics, mobile phone forensics and geo-location analysis, including expert witness provision and evidential presentations.
The team of industry-leading in-house analysts will work closely with other organisations to provide subject matter expertise for projects including the generation of Ground Truth Data and the validation of methods and tools.
SYTECH celebrated international expansion with the recent success of a major government project in Belize.
The company is proud to be creating high-aspirational careers and improving social mobility in its workforce areas.
Daren Greener, Managing Director at SYTECH, is an active participant in the nationwide Speakers for Schools programme. Daren provides inspirational career talks to highlight university pathways and the diverse range of jobs in the sector, enabling young people to feel empowered about their future.
The firm is embarking on a major recruitment drive and wants to grow the existing 70-strong workforce by at least 30% over the next 12 months. SYTECH is looking for experienced analysts, entry-level technicians and administrative staff and is interested in speaking with IT professionals, data analysts or former police officers keen to migrate into digital forensics and cyber services.
SYTECH has entered the Small Business of the Year and Team of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Norfolk and Derby Street Pharmacies

Team of the Year entrant

A beloved grandmother who was an inspiration to her Muslim community and a best friend with a debilitating condition were the motivations for Navid Kaleem’s healthcare career and a business with a turnover approaching £4 million.
The 44-year-old pharmacist always wanted to be a doctor, inspired to make a difference in healthcare after growing up with a best friend who had muscular dystrophy.
He completed a pharmacy degree at Bradford University before heading to London to work at Guys and St Thomas Hospital. But his grandmother missed him hugely - which soon saw him return back to his Shelton roots which is now the home of one of his very successful pharmacies.
Navid, who started out as a locum locally, owns and runs Norfolk Street Pharmacy in Shelton and Derby Street Pharmacy in Hanley.
In 2022-2023 his businesses had a combined turnover of £3.44 million, an increase of 13% from the previous year. In, 2023-2024 that rose again by 15% with a turnover of £3.95 million. The father of five has built and grown his businesses from scratch.
“My grandfather was the first in my family to come to the area in the 1960s. He worked incredibly hard at Shelton Bar and the pottery industry, and my dad followed suit.
“My gran who was affectionately known as Beji, made a massive difference to the local community. Her door was open for people, she always listened, when a baby was born, she was the first to be knitting clothes and when people lost someone close, she was the first to comfort them.
“Growing up seeing how hard my family worked and the difference my gran made to the community made me want to do the same,” he said.
When Shelton Primary Care Centre opened its doors in 2009, Navid spotted the opportunity to open a pharmacy next to it and thanks to his dad, who give his life savings to finance it, that opportunity soon became a reality. Working there also meant he could see his beloved Gran at lunchtimes, as she lived in the next street.
At first Navid was working 100 hours per week, working six days a week - 7am until midnight and then sleeping on a Sunday to keep the pharmacy going.
But as the business grew, by 2012, he was able to bring in more support staff and in 2014 Navid opened his second pharmacy in Derby Street, Hanley.
He now employs 29 staff across both pharmacies, which have dispensed more than 3.15 million prescription items over the years to tens of thousands of patients.
During the pandemic, when the Coronavirus vaccine first became available, under Navid’s guidance and leadership they were one of the first pharmacies to voluntarily participate. Meticulous planning, unwavering commitment and seamless coordination saw them vaccinate more than 30,000 individuals.
Since then, Navid has continued to develop the business, bringing in additional services across both pharmacies to support the local community’s health needs.
In the last 12 months he has introduced the new Pharmacy First Service, which supports people with seven common conditions, including shingles and sinusitis, freeing up GP appointments for those that need them most. Blood pressure and hypertension services have also been introduced.
In the last year alone at Norfolk Street Pharmacy 3,336 blood pressure checks have been conducted – ranking them 26th across pharmacies out of 11,522. Their Community Service has supported 9,851 patients with an average of 17,885 items dispensed each month, placing them as the provider in the local area.
Navid’s path to success hasn’t always been easy: “I had a speech impediment which saw me lash out on occasions and I ended up going to three different schools. I dropped out after my first year at university studying chemical engineering, thinking that education wasn’t for me. I then went to work for Toyota but after a year I just couldn’t imagine doing that for the rest of my life and found myself back at university studying to be a pharmacist.
“It was then that I found the path I was meant to be on – supporting the community my family have loved so much.
“It’s not and never has been without its challenges. Stoke-on-Trent’s status as one of the most deprived cities in Staffordshire has brought with it a set of difficulties that have tested myself and my team. We face abuse and violence on a regular basis. We’ve had harrowing incidents where one of our staff was held at knifepoint. Yet we’ve pulled together as a team to support each other to carry on because we really do want to make a difference.
“I have dedicated my career to prioritising the health and well-being of our community. My vision has always been to serve and care for the people around us, a commitment that’s never wavered despite NHS funding challenges.
“Coming from a deprived background in Shelton, where opportunities were limited, I am extremely proud of what I have achieved. It has surpassed all my expectations. My success so far though has been down to the prayers from my community, the work ethic my grandfather and father showed me and the love and inspiration I received from my Gran every day.”
Navid has also played a pivotal role in shaping future professionals by providing student placements, giving them invaluable hands-on experience and mentorship to complement their academic learning. He has offered more than 150 work experience placements for schools and trained more than 17 pre-reg pharmacists.
Every year through the business Navid donates around £50,000 to charity locally including to the Wendy Jones Trust, the Haji Bashir Foundation, local mosques, The Dougie Mac, Donna Louise, Medical Aid for Palestine and unwar.
Navid, who also has a property portfolio, hasn’t ruled out opening further pharmacies in the future if the need arises.
Navid has entered the Entrepreneur of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and has entered his pharmacies in the Small Business of the Year and Team of the Year categories.

Boots the Chemists Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent city centre

Team of the Year entrant

The Boots store in Stoke-on-Trent city centre has been named as one of the best in the UK by the national chain.
The branch in Market Square, Hanley, led by store manager Tracey Barker, was named first runner-up in the Store of the Year 2023 category of the Boots Best of the Best Awards.
Now Tracey has nominated her staff in the Team of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards in recognition of their hard work and their commitment to the city centre.
She said: “Time after time the store receives outstanding high praise on visits from all sectors of the business.
“The team are the key to this success. The care they have and their love of the citiy’s culture and being part of it shows daily.
“The team are committed to building a better Hanley and to looking at the future and how we can support the high street around us and the people who shop here.
“Last year the team came first runner up in the region’s Best of the Best awards. The nomination was based on the team’s standards, how engaged and how caring the team is. It recognised the hard work the team has put in to grow the business and the high standards the team keep.”
After being on the high street for many years, the store has been located in Market Square since 1976.
The store’s pharmacy team works with more than 2,300 patients and has a second dispensary to cater for people living in care homes.

The AMRICC Centre

Team of the Year entrant

The official launch of The AMRICC Centre in February marked the end of an eight-year collaboration across the Midlands to bring the £10 million research facility together.
Positioning the Midlands at the centre of the multi-billion pound global advanced ceramics sector, collaboration and teamwork from across business and academia have been at the heart of its development. It’s a world first, brought to Staffordshire with the support of team members and the wider community.
The AMRICC Centre operates under an open-access format, translating materials, processes, and technologies into real-world products and solutions by enabling product and process development to be carried out at an industrially relevant scale.
The development is the physical outcome of the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group’s £18.27 million four-year research programme, funded by Government under UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund in 2021.
By providing open-access to technology that would not normally be available to industry, organisations are able to trial new products at commercial pilot scale, so helping to de-risk the use of new technologies much more quickly.
The Centre also provides a superbly equipped environment to train the next generation of material scientists, enabling them to develop new skills in an industrial setting, in conjunction with key university partners.
Businesses and universities in the region’s advanced materials sector can have the support they need to help develop, prove and deploy concepts from an initial idea into commercialisation much faster and more effectively to meet changing market needs and achieve results.
Lucideon hosts and manages The AMRICC Centre on behalf of the sector, realising its primary purpose: to enable companies to take innovative ideas and place them on the fast-track into commercial product.
The AMRICC Centre includes an equipment suite with more than 350 pieces of high-value technology, collectively offering unique capabilities for users.
Access to The AMRICC Centre and its entire range of cutting-edge kit capabilities is open to all on a pay-as-you-go basis.
This gives the opportunity for those using the open access centre to not only benefit from the equipment but to build on the strengths of scientists, engineers, data scientists, computational modellers and other experts who operate within the facility, who can help turn innovative ideas into market-ready technologies for users.
Dr Cathryn Hickey, CEO of The AMRICC Centre, said: “Recent forecasts for the value of advanced ceramics industry place it at £143 billion, and The AMRICC Centre strongly positions the Midlands region, an area long associated with ceramics, to play a key role in this highly valued sector.”
The AMRICC Centre has entered the Team of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.


Team of the Year entrant

Helen Bancroft-Morris has a mantra that a happy team makes for happy clients which is why she makes sure her team’s morale comes first.
She founded Stafford-based telemarketing company HBMtelemarketing in 2020 using her 30 years of sales experience in the leisure and business services industry.
In a short time she has put together a team of seven who share her values and passion for quality data and excellent customer service.
Helen has concentrated on developing her staff and equipping them with the skills and support they need so that whilst being a part of the team she can also concentrate on strategic issues and developing the business, using her management experience and leadership skills to empower the team to deliver.
Staff are offered hybrid remote working and flexibility with working hours to fit around school commitments and caring duties.
Helen believes in a flat team structure, not telling people what to do and if there is a high workload she will pitch in and get on the phone to clients.
An office move last year effectively tripled the workspace available. Helen was mindful that the researchers need a quiet space whereas the telemarketing team thrive off a busier environment where they spark off each other and can pick up on different and innovative ways to interact with people.
Liam Collins joined the team in 2022. He was 26 at the time and due to his autism had not previously worked. Helen had connections with the autism charity New Directions and she offered Liam a six-month placement as a researcher.
As Liam grew in confidence he developed his linguistic and communication skills and now has a new role as a telemarketing executive. Not only has he developed his research skills but he can also sell, equipping him with career skills for life. All because Helen saw the chance to offer an opportunity to someone who at 26 was lacking confidence and essential job skills.
Amelia Lecarpentier is a 17-year-old A Level student at Stafford College. She works around three hours a week and helps in school holidays, providing cover for team members who have school aged children. She is paid way above minimum wage and Helen sees potential in Amelia to join the team on a permanent basis when she completes her studies.
HBMTelemarketing has entered the Team of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

ChattyDuck Creative

Team of the Year entrant

A Stoke-on-Trent creative agency has given more than 600 hours of free-of-charge services to local charities and non-profits – equivalent to more than £50,000 of work at its standard hourly rate.
ChattyDuck Creative, based in Fenton, has a team of four staff working across writing, multimedia content creation and quality assurance.
Since the business was founded in 2021 it has donated more than £2,300 to local causes, representing more than 4.5% of its post-tax profits for FY 2021/22 and FY 2022/23.
It works with clients in sectors including real estate and construction, manufacturing and industrial, automotive, logistics, energy and utilities, infrastructure, technology, travel and tourism, education and R&D, charities, non-profits and government.
Set up by Managing Director James Morgan, the company works with clients across the UK as well as in Europe and the Middle East.
James said: “Our modest size makes it easy to ensure we champion charities and non-profits that are close to our employees’ hearts, with each team member having a say in the causes we support.”
ChattyDuck is accredited by the Living Wage Foundation and is committed to having a healthy work environment.
All members of staff receive 30 days of paid annual leave plus the period between December 23 and January 2, no one other than the MD has access to work emails on their mobile phone and everyone is told to not work other than during their allotted work hours.
James added: “We understand that work-related stress is not only preventable, but also an organisational issue as well as a personal one.
“We appreciate that operating in a high-pressure, client-centric industry with exacting standards and tight deadlines can have a detrimental impact on employees’ mental wellbeing if not managed effectively.
“To this end, ChattyDuck has implemented a stress evaluation and mitigation tool that identified a series of mental health-related risk factors based on team members’ responses to an in-depth questionnaire. We then developed an Employee Wellbeing Policy designed to mitigate these factors and ensure a healthy work environment for everyone at ChattyDuck.”
ChattyDuck Creative has entered the Team of the Year and Business in the Community categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.


Team of the Year entrant

A Staffordshire-based group which encompasses three separate businesses is celebrating the best year yet for each of them – breaking through the £1 million turnover mark with plans to double it over the next three years.
The Hewitt&Carr Group, based in Cheadle, encompasses Hewitt&Carr Architects, Hewitt&Carr Services and Hewitt&Carr Developments.
Across the group turnover has increased by more than 60%, Architects has increased by 53%, Services by 93% and Developments by 44%.
Staff numbers have grown from 12 in 2021 to 23 now with two new team members due to start soon and plans to recruit further this year.
Success has been achieved in a number of ways including expanding the Services arm of the business which has taken on more staff. This has enabled the creation of an enhanced offering to clients, delivering on a larger scale and increasing its client base.
The Architects arm of the business, founded in 2011, has celebrated some huge client wins over the last 12 months and is currently working on commercial projects for GivEnergy, Broxap, the Wrights Food Group as well as on student accommodation in the city.
2023’s bumper figures and client wins come as Hewitt&Carr Developments celebrates DaisyBank’s sixth birthday. The serviced office accommodation was set up to provide a social lifeline and communal base for rural enterprises in the area.
The first of its kind in the Staffordshire Moorlands its currently home to 12 units, with plans underway to attract more businesses as well as offering hot-desking facilities.
This year the Group has also moved into other areas with virtual offices in Wilmslow, Matlock, Nantwich and Whitchurch to expand their client base into Cheshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire.
Having broken through the £1 million turnover milestone across the group in 2023, the main focus will be to double turnover to £2 million by 2027.
Natalie said: “It was fantastic to see the growth across each of our businesses last year. The figures for the Services arm of the Group were phenomenal and we are in a very strong position to exceed these results this year and hit all our targets to continue our sustained growth.
“Our Group performance is something that as a team we are all incredibly proud of. To reward them and celebrate our results, each of the team has been given an extra day’s annual leave to do with what they want. We do what we do because of the people we work with and the people we work for, and our biggest mantra is that we are all about teamwork.”
Fellow Director Mark Carr added: “We’ve got to where we are with strong leadership, hard work and sheer grit and determination. We pride ourselves on the level and quality of service we deliver and want to make our clients’ lives easier, but we couldn’t do it without the fantastic team we have, and I want to thank them for all their support. We’re already looking ahead and planning beyond 2024.”
Hewitt&Carr has entered the Small Business of the Year and Team of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Mitchell Arts Centre

Team of the Year entrant

Nearly 70 years after it opened as a tribute to the designer of the Spitfire, The Mitchell Arts Centre continues to be a hub of the community and to support and entertain thousands of people.
The Stoke-on-Trent city centre venue is home to a theatre auditorium, dance studio and café plus various spaces it offers for corporate hire.
Education and community outreach play a key role. MAC Education was launched in September 2022 and in its first year supported 528 families with accessible arts and committed 1,270 hours to education.
In 2023 the centre partnered with the Hubb Foundation to provide 240 free workshops across the year for children receiving free school meals.
Other key programmes have included the cultural project You Are Here and the creation of a Youth Board.
In 2024 MAC Education is doubling its public workshops in half term and working hard behind the scenes applying for funding to provide more opportunities for the community.
Mitchell Arts Centre Education Officer Caroline Sherratt said: “Our strengths blossom from the legacy of the venue. The venue was paid for by public money in 1957 and the community spirit has continued to shine through ever since.
“The venue is used by local amateur dramatics groups, community groups and children’s theatre groups and within these connections we have made strong relationships which helps the venue stand tall in Stoke-on-Trent.”
The Mitchell Arts Centre has entered the Small Business of the Year, Team of the Year, Growth, Skills For the Future and Business in the Community categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Art UK

Team of the Year entrant

Art UK’s 33 staff and 150 volunteers are scattered around the UK but their collective impact is vast – including more than five million people visiting the charity’s website over the past 12 months.
Based in Stoke-on-Trent, Art UK’s mission is to connect anyone anywhere with the nation’s art – from schoolchildren to scholars and from teachers to tourists.
It provides a vital service to 3,500 UK art collections, ensuring they have a chance to engage digital audiences with their artworks. Over the last 12 months Art UK has developed a new Art UK Shop platform to help collections generate critical revenue, launched an education programme that will transform young lives and begun planning to add millions of object records to its site as its Museum Data Service gets underway.
Meanwhile Art UK’s staff continue their day-to-day work of adding artworks to the database, publishing fascinating stories, solving art mysteries and engaging with a wide range of people and communities.
With a distributed workforce and volunteer network, maintaining support, communication, transparency and wellbeing are key. Art UK policies help its team achieve a work-life balance and ensure they feel valued, through regular 1-2-1s and annual work reviews, wellbeing surveys and opportunities for flexible working.
It runs a variety of initiatives and activities to unite the team so they don’t feel isolated working from home. An internal newsletter, State of the Art, provides news about the achievements of staff and volunteers and highlights the work that different departments have been doing.
In its most recent annual staff survey 100% of Art UK employees agreed that the organisation treats all employees fairly regardless of ethnic background, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or age, and 97% said they are proud to be associated with Art UK. 100% said they know how their work contributes to the organisation’s objectives and 100% agreed that they are trusted to do their job.
Katey Goodwin, Deputy Director of Art UK, has nominated the organisation’s employees and volunteers in the Team of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
She said: “Although we don’t see each other in person every day our shared values and goals, and our collaborative working practices, mean that a small, distributed team can achieve a lot.”

The Hearing Centres

Team of the Year entrant

A business launched during the pandemic has grown to have 16 members of staff, a projected £1.6 million annual turnover and bases around the region.
The Hearing Centres was started by audiologist Clare Kewney in January 2021 with a premises in Bollington, Cheshire. By June the same year she had opened a centre in Leek and a year later expanded into Biddulph.
In April 2023 Clare merged the business with another local home visit hearing care provider and has gone on to open three more hearing care practices with another two planned for this year.
“We are passionate about ensuring people remain able to communicate with loved ones and involved in the community, helping to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia due to lack of social stimulation and activity,” said Clare.
“Our team are friendly and knowledgeable. They care about our patients and will go above and beyond to help and assist.
“We aim to deliver the very highest standards of service, care and expertise to our patients. Primarily we love to solve our patients’ hearing problems and to see their quality of life transformed.
“Above all we will listen to their concerns, explore treatment options and support them through every step of their hearing recovery.”
Services offered by The Hearing Centres include wax removal, hearing screening tests, full hearing assessments with speech audiometry, tympanometry, tinnitus assessments, hearing protection and hearing aid triage.
As the business is independent it has a full portfolio of hearing aids available to best suit the patient’s lifestyle, hearing and budget, all of which come with full after care service for the life of the hearing instruments.
Clare added: “Not only is there business growth but also within that we love to offer and support personal growth. An example of this is the first member of staff who was originally employed as a receptionist, then went on to train as a Hearing Care Assistant and then Wax Removal Specialist and is now Group Practice Manager.”
Clare has entered The Hearing Centres into the Small Business of the Year, Growth Award and Team of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Ten Count Boxing Gym

Team of the Year nominee

Ten Count aims to use exercise and boxing to improve the self-esteem, confidence and health of children and adults.
It organises free or subsidised family day trips and offers nutritional and wellbeing advice alongside fun fitness classes.
There is a youth group, rehab sessions for the elderly and the owners have plans for a soft play area, a music studio, a warm room for pensioners and a library area for people to study.
Ten Count Boxing Gym has been nominated in the Business in the Community category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards by Laura Bailey who runs a youth group from the gym. She has also nominated the seven members of staff in the Team of the Year category.
She said: “The success of the gym at serving its community rests on the fantastic team who work tirelessly both behind the scenes and within the gym to create an inclusive and vibrant environment where children, teens and adults come and thrive.
“Some of the young amateur boxers are now becoming increasingly involved in other gym projects as volunteers and sessional staff, building on the strength that lies within such as Bradley who young people from the youth group actively recruited to join their activities.
“Max has a busy schedule of coaching young people during the daytime who come from specialist education providers and youth offending team referrals and also within schools across the city as a diversionary extracurricular activity.
“Lee selflessly volunteers his time and specialises in teaching children and young people with a broad range of disabilitie, in his BoxSEN classes which see 16 children enjoy adapted boxing sessions weekly to meet their abilities and enhance their physical and emotional wellbeing.
“Ultimately Ten Count’s team comprises of individuals all with a shared goal of supporting people’s wellbeing and development and to be a part of that is so rewarding and motivational.”
Max Maxwell said: “When people think of gyms they think it’s for a particular type of person but it isn’t. I try to make people feel comfortable and to take away any barriers.
“We’re affordable for everyone and I want to bring in children’s soft play for just £1 or £2 so that it’s easier for parents to exercise.”

PCT Coaching

Team of the Year entrant

A football coaching company that began as a one-man-band in 2017 has grown to have 16 employees, including a current professional footballer.
PCT Coaching was set up by former Army mechanic Martyn Irvine in 2017 after an aspiring player asked him to help with training ahead of trials with football clubs.
The business now has Stoke-on-Trent’s largest indoor, private training facility at its base in Longton.
Its team of 16 coaches, including a current Oldham Athletic player, deliver tailored sessions to more than 200 children each week. PCT is also home to six junior football teams.
“If you’d told me my career would be coaching football I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Martyn, who served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for 12 years.
“I began by helping one person, coaching them in a park, and then more and more people asked me to help them.
“We support and love every single person that comes through the doors. Most of them are children. They’re not footballers, they’re young people who want to be footballers. We want to help them to be young people who can go out into society and be the best they can be.”
After starting off using a park for training, in 2021 PCT moved into part of the former ceramic factory at Sylvan Works in Longton so that training could continue regardless of the weather.
Martyn’s team of coaches support individuals in developing their social, physical, technical and psychological traits within the world of football.
They often work with children who have been turned down by football teams. So far 62 children have been placed into football teams after being told they weren’t good enough elsewhere and are now thriving under the guidance of the team of coaching experts at PCT.
Martyn added: “We just want to help as many people as we can. The biggest thing for us is that we’ve got experts who have played and coached at a high level or who are still involved in playing football professionally.”
PCT Coaching has entered the Small Business of the Year and Team of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Affordable Food Stoke

Team of the Year entrant

Affordable Food Stoke used surplus food to provide the equivalent of 157,687 meals in Stoke-on-Trent last year – but it can only continue this work because of its team of 31 volunteers.
Set up in 2016 by Staffordshire University alumni Duane Barrett and wife Nikki Barrett, the registered charity works to reduce food waste and support communities through initiatives including emergency food parcels and a ‘free food section’ where people take what they need.
Just 12 days into January and Affordable Food had already provided enough free food for 1,136 people.
“It has never been this busy so early in January,” said Duane.
Affordable Food Stoke won two accolades at the 2023 Staffordshire University Business Awards – Team of the Year and Business in the Community (Charity). It has entered Team of the Year in the 2024 awards.
Duane said: “Since the last awards ceremony we have actually taken on more volunteers to offset the demand. We have recruited two more drivers, one more kitchen staff and three lounge buddies.
“The first two positions are self-explanatory but the lounge buddy is a role we created to support our community lounge on a Tuesday and Wednesday. We offer free tea, coffee, toast and cereal as part of our lounges and to co-exist with this we recruited volunteers to just float around and sit with people. Maybe it’s their first time in? Maybe they are lonely? Maybe they are suffering with their mental health? Whatever the reason we make sure everyone is not alone when they come in. People aren’t numbers and we want everyone to feel valued and important…because they are.”
Affordable Food Stoke’s 31 volunteers work across all of the services the charity offers. Duane and Nikki offer them ongoing training and support including team building away days and a work Christmas party.
Duane added: “Our volunteers and our team are everything. They are our heartbeat and their passion and character enables everything we do to happen. It all flows through them.
“One of our core goals when we formed Affordable Food Stoke was to engage with the local community and to create positive relationships. All of our volunteers are (or were) beneficiaries of one or more of our services which just shows how important the community is to the services we provide.”

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