The winners have been announced in awards designed to honour people in Nottingham who strive to improve the health and wellbeing of others.

Finalists of the Michael Varnam Awards were invited to a special ceremony at The Council House.

The awards take their name from former Sneinton GP Dr Michael Varnam who dedicated 35 years to helping people in Nottingham, particularly residents and families in deprived areas. He died in 2006, aged 61.

Nominations were made by the public in two categories: individual and group.

Individual Award Winner: Aleks Jackowska

Aleks has been volunteering with the Jigsaw Youth Club in Lenton for over 20 years, helping to provide activities for young people with a high functioning Autism Spectrum condition. The young people she works with are often vulnerable members of society, and Aleks’ volunteering enables them to take part in weekly youth sessions, takes them on trips to various locations, and helps educate them and help them grow as people.

  • Aleks challenges young people to work, play, and learn outside their comfort zones
  • Aleks also runs the café and coffee bar inside the Jigsaw Youth Club
  • She gives long term practical help by encouraging them to take part in training which will enhance their knowledge and skills, and provide them with a greater understanding of their world and their environment

Group Award Winner: Café Sobar

Café Sobar is a social enterprise ran by Double Impact, a service that works to support people in recovery from substance abuse and alcoholism. Embedded as part of Nottingham’s growing café culture, at first glance in simply a modern café set in the heart of the city, it provides a number of important functions. It is an alcohol free premises and this means that people who do not want to be around alcohol for a variety of reasons can enjoy a great atmosphere with their friends, family and community. 

  • Café Sobar’s profits go to Double Impact, providing people with the opportunity to volunteer, receive training, and also enter employment. Offers the chance to rebuild people’s lives by providing those crucial steps that are so critical to any individual’s recovery
  • The venue welcomes a variety of community groups, and also supports cultural events, doing its part to contribute to our city’s growing reputation as a centre for literature and the arts

The awards were organised jointly and judged by Nottingham City Council, Nottingham City Health and Wellbeing Board, NHS Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), One Nottingham and the Youth Parliament.

The other shortlisted finalists were:

Individual award:

  • Valentine Nkoyo, raises awareness of Female Genital Mutilation so that survivors can receive the right support and new cases can be prevented.
  • Louise Wilkins, is manager of Nottingham’s drug and alcohol services and has been an important figure in Nottingham’s drug and alcohol services for many years.

Group award:

  • Imara, they support children, teenagers, and families in Nottingham   following a disclosure or discovery of child sexual abuse.
  • Nyasa Daughters of Nottingham, they are a local community group in St Anns ran by women from Malawi. Having set out to provide help for the disadvantaged and vulnerable members of their own community, their support and scope has grown and now they help anyone in need in their local area no matter where they come from.