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CoS Trustee wins award

City of Sanctuary Trustee and Refugee Council Worker, Rose McCarthy has received a national award for her commitment and dedication to the local community at a recent award ceremony.

The Access to Nature Volunteer Awards were held in Birmingham to honour the contributions of the thousands of volunteers who have been involved in the Access to Nature programme since it was launched by Natural England in 2007 with the aim of encouraging more people to enjoy the outdoors.

Rose McCarthy from Leeds was nominated for the ‘commitment and dedication’ award by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) for her voluntary work at Choto Moni Children’s Centre in Leeds where she runs antenatal classes and postnatal support groups for pregnant refugee and asylum seeking women, and for her work at the Refugee Council where she trains volunteers to become ‘befrienders’ for pregnant refugees and asylum seekers.

Thanks to her dedication, Rose has helped to reach out to women who were feeling lonely, isolated and extremely vulnerable as they found themselves facing difficult issues on their own during pregnancy, and sometimes experiencing mental health problems or suffering as a victim of domestic violence or abuse.

Rose has successfully fostered an environment where the women can access the information they need to have a safe and happy pregnancy and birth, and where they feel safe enough to share their hope and fears.

Commenting on receiving the award, Rose McCarthy said: “I was really touched to receive the Access to Nature Award. Through this project not only have the asylum seeking and refugee families I work with been introduced to the beautiful English countryside, they also experienced the welcoming and inclusive nature of People and the Dales. We have been moved to see that strangers care and that those ‘strangers’ can become friends.”

In 2009 Rose teamed up with YDMT’s outreach programme People and the DALES to offer her groups the chance to visit the Yorkshire Dales and experience the health and well-being benefits of the great outdoors.

Community workers at YDMT organised visits to accessible beauty spots in the Dales for groups of mums, babies and toddlers from Choto Moni. Visits often comprised of a gentle walk to explore Malham Cove or Malham Tarn, a picnic and a local art exhibition.

Judy Rogers, People and the DALES community worker at YDMT, said: “We were thrilled to hear the news that Rose had won the ‘commitment and dedication’ award at the Access to Nature Volunteer Awards. Rose has been volunteering for more than 25 years and, having given almost 4000 hours of her time to help women in need, has formed countless lasting friendships. She is a worthy winner and we are delighted to have been able to provide expertise and transport funding to allow groups from Choto Moni the chance to access the countryside, often for the first time, through the People and the DALES project.”

People and the DALES is supported by funding from Natural England’s Access to Nature programme, and so far has given 4,750 people from disadvantaged urban backgrounds the opportunity to visit the beautiful Yorkshire Dales countryside.

Elizabeth Holdsworth, Access to Nature Grants Adviser, commented: “I’m really thrilled that Rose has won an Access to Nature Volunteer Award. People and the DALES has been an incredibly successful project and volunteers like Rose really do make a difference in helping other people break down the barriers to accessing our wonderful countryside. Huge congratulations to Rose and all the team at People and the DALES for this national recognition.”