Marsh Award for Children’s Services Volunteer Team of the Year

This Award is run in partnership with Barnardo’s and recognises volunteer teams who are dedicated to helping children, young people and families across the UK, who demonstrate an exceptional level of support and commitment to their role and the clients they support.

Nominations are made via Barnardo’s and judged by a panel consisting of Barnardo’s and MCT representatives.

The Award recognises volunteers across all departments of Barnardo’s in 8 regions across the UK.

Prison Visitor Volunteers, HMP Isle of Wight 2023

This team of volunteers support children and their families when they visit a family member in prison, creating a friendly environment, engaging in activities with children and supporting families throughout the length of their visit. The team are determined, committed and motivated, working in a challenging environment but remaining resilient and non-judgmental throughout. Over the past year, they have supported over 200 children and almost 2,000 adults while they attend visits to the prison. Families have reported that they could not have got through the visit without the support of the volunteers and that the help they provide is priceless. The volunteers have engaged well with the training that they have had to complete to volunteer in the prison and as a result of their commitment, deliver a high calibre of service to families visiting a loved one in prison. 

Previous Winners

Asylum Children’s Education Support (ACES) Volunteers

The ACES Project was set up in February 2022 in response to the increasing number of children waiting for a school place while residing in contingency hotel accommodation. Many of the team members were already volunteering in different roles within the service and offered their additional time without hesitation. The Team have helped shape this project from the ground up, providing valuable input from their professions and life experience. Within each ACES session, volunteers adapt to the children who arrive at the door, forming relationships, teaching and playing. They listen to and give a voice and opportunities for these children to have fun and let off steam from their tense living environment. In the absence of school, the volunteers are attentive to the children’s progress and are keen to celebrate their achievements. They have risen to the challenge of responding to this new and emerging challenge facing vulnerable children and families in Northern Ireland. Their ongoing commitment has enabled the initial pilot programme, which was due to end in March 2022, to attract enough funding to be extended until at least March 2023.

Northern Ireland Refugee Support Service (NIRSS)

These volunteers are dedicated, reliable and diligent in their roles in the NIRSS, which supports Syrian refugees on their resettlement and integration journey in Northern Ireland. Throughout the pandemic, these volunteers have assisted the advice clinic and its service users with issues such as booking GP appointments, reporting housing issues and accessing English classes for newly arrived families. The volunteers ensure that service users are treated with dignity and can make informed choices. They offer reassurance to service users and build trusting relationships with them, so that they feel comfortable asking for help. The volunteers have gone above and beyond during the pandemic, covering extra shifts, dealing with unforeseen challenges such as food shortages for families and alleviating pressure on members of staff.  They have adapted to the challenges of volunteering remotely throughout the pandemic with patience and positivity and worked well together as a team. 


This Year’s Regional Winners are:

  • Central England – Hertfordshire Family Support Volunteer Team
  • Cymru and South West – Breastfeeding Peer Support Team
  • North England –  Eden Breastfeeding Peer Supporters
  • South East –  West Essex Virtual Breastfeeding Peer Support Volunteer Team