Platinum Champions: Tameside woman who helps other beat loneliness given royal award

Sarwar Ibrahim from Tameside with Catherine Johnstone of the Royal Voluntary ServiceSarwar Ibrahim from Tameside with Catherine Johnstone of the Royal Voluntary Service
Sarwar Ibrahim from Tameside with Catherine Johnstone of the Royal Voluntary Service | Royal Voluntary Service

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Sarwar Ibrahim from Ashton-under-Lyne charity Khush Amid has been named a Platinum Champions volunteer by the national organsation dedicated to those who give up their time for free to help others.

A Greater Manchester charity stalwart who pulls out all the stops to support older ethnic minority women in the city-region has been recognised with a prestigious award.

Sarwar Ibrahim was given a Platinum Champions award by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) at a very special lunch.

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The panel giving out the awards were amazed by her dedication to Khush Amdid, a Tameside charity which supports older ethnic minority women at risk of social isolation.

Sarwar said supporting people in her local community is her passion.

What has Sarwar Ibrahim been recognised for?

The judges of the Platinum Awards were stunned by how much work Sarwar does for Khush Amdid, which is based in Ashton-under-Lyne and has a name meaning ‘welcome’ in Urdu.

Now in her 80s, Sarwar is still at the heart and soul of everything the charity does to support elderly black and minority ethnic (BAME) women who might otherwise face loneliness and isolation.

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She helps to improve the health and wellbeing of people in her community by running activities such as chair-based exercises and supporting those experiencing mental health issues through getting them down to Khush Amdid’s activities, listening and guiding.

Her efforts have given the women who have attended more control over their healthcare and lifestyle and this has helped to reduce the strain on the NHS as well as transforming lives in Ashton.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sarwar was a dedicated ambassador for Khush Amdid, combating loneliness via phone and WhatsApp messaging as well as organising food deliveries.

She also worked to ensure vulnerable members of the BAME community with language barriers were cared for and their needs met.

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Sarwar’s dedication and time commitment to the charity were such that she was recognised as one of the 70 most inspirational and extraordinary Platinum Champions award winners out of 490 people who were recognised across the country.

That meant she was invited to The Big Jubilee Lunch at The Oval in London, held to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s seven decades on the throne.

At the event the RVS president the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales presented Sarwar and the other Platinum Champions volunteers with their awards, a specially-designed pin and a certificate.

What are the Platinum Champions awards?

The RVS set out to find people with an unwavering dedication to volunteering and received an incredible 3,000 nominations, including 331 from the North West.

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The final award winners were picked by a panel of judges presided over by the Duchess of Cornwall.

The awards were a national Platinum Jubilee project put together in honour of the Queen, who is also the RVS patron, and her extraordinary 70-year reign.

What has been said about the Platinum Champions and what did Sarwar say about being recognised?

Sarwar said: “Volunteering is my passion, I have spent decades doing it because I love it and I want to support the people in my community.

“It was an honour, and a wonderful surprise, to be presented with a Platinum Champions Award at such a special event.

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“Donating your time to others is rewarding enough in itself, but I feel very humbled and grateful to be recognised as a Platinum Champion.”

Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said: “It has been an honour to run the Platinum Champion Awards with our President, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.

The Big Jubilee Lunch recognising the 70 most inspiring Platinum Champions award winnersThe Big Jubilee Lunch recognising the 70 most inspiring Platinum Champions award winners
The Big Jubilee Lunch recognising the 70 most inspiring Platinum Champions award winners | Royal Voluntary Service

“Every Platinum Champion is doing something unique in their community, but all were chosen because of the immeasurable difference they’ve made to the lives of others. I can’t commend them enough.

“All of the Platinum Champions are heroes in my eyes and it was wonderful to meet and thank some of them in person. The Big Jubilee Lunch really was the perfect way to come together and celebrate their extraordinary voluntary service.”

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The Duchess of Cornwall said: “The Platinum Champions Awards, launched by Royal Voluntary Service in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s 70 years of service, have given us the opportunity to celebrate the remarkable contribution of all volunteers, who truly are the backbone of our country.

“Congratulations to all our Platinum Champions – and my heartfelt thanks to you and to the millions of volunteers across the UK who give their time and talents so generously.”

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