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

This Award recognises the contribution of a young person, up to the age of 25, who volunteers for Barnardo’s and makes a significant contribution to the work of the organisation in any area of its activity.

Winners of the Award have demonstrated levels of commitment that go above and beyond what is expected of them, and this may have been done at the same time as overcoming some personal adversity or impairments.

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

Pictured above: 2013 Award winner Jenny Rivers receiving her Award

Ruby Rose, Bristol and South Gloucestershire HYPE Service 2023

Ruby has great warmth and empathy, she understands mental health and helps young people to articulate their feelings. She encourages young people to share their experiences within the service, which has now expanded to influence the mental health strategy for services across the local area. Ruby was involved in creating a training programme for health workers, introducing them to the concept of including young people in building the services which support them. She has acted as a mentor to other young people, giving them the confidence to share their views with service leaders and creating a forum where young people’s voices can be heard. Ruby has been an ambassador of Barnardo’s values and has contributed to a number of workshops, as well as making a presentation to board members and conducting training for over 50 mental health workers. 

Previous Winners

Madison Denny

Madison has overcome personal challenges and has gone from a young person in the service to transitioning into a much-valued volunteer. She has been inspirational in managing her own mental health and disability and her lived experience gives her amazing insight in how to support and help other young people with kindness and empathy. Her ability to communicate with young people is excellent and she translates difficult subjects into creative activities and animations to help engage them in the service. Madison’s enthusiasm and personality are infectious, and she always brings hard work and lots of fun to whatever task she is working on. She has been integral to the development of the ‘Real Love Rocks: Healthy Relationships and Exploitation’ resources, bringing her own insights to create messages of hope to enable young people to understand that if they are abused or hurt by someone, that the blame lies with the person or people who hurt them. She has written scripts, produced voiceovers, and created amazing activities to educate young people about healthy relationships and exploitation.

Millie Ravenhill

Millie developed her skills quickly when she joined Barnardo’s as a volunteer, after becoming a volunteer to make the best use of her time during the pandemic. She is a fast and determined learner and embraced the volunteer training to make sure that she could be the best volunteer possible. She bonded with her mentor and pushed herself out of her comfort zone. The service could completely rely on Millie throughout the pandemic and the young people warmed to her thanks to her caring, happy manner. Her contributions have not only made a difference to her development, but also to the development of the service. She has learnt how to plan and deliver sessions and understands the individual needs of each young person, tailoring the sessions so that they can have the best experience. Millie now wants to pursue a career working with children with special educational needs thanks to her volunteering experience, and has been offered a job with Barnardo’s. 

Regional winners:

  • Central England – Jessica Forbes
  • Cymru and South West – Sophie Moore 
  • North England –  Meggan Hunter
  • Northern Ireland & Scotland – Beth Gilbert

Elinor Mason, HMP Portland

Elinor Mason

Elinor has been a dedicated volunteer to the service at HMP Portland since she approached Barnardo’s wanting to gain more confidence and understanding of how families are affected by imprisonment. Elinor supports during the visits that take place, she has a calm, friendly nature with the children & young people that puts them at ease on arriving. She is curios, enthusiastic, reflective in her role and continuously demonstrates emotional intelligence when supporting families.  

Elinor has also supported with the prisoner induction, often twice a week where she meets with new arrivals at the prison to talk about the services that Barnardo’s offer. When Covid19 stopped the visits at the prison this was a particularly hard time for the children, families & offenders. Elinor recognised this and early on during lockdown she took it upon herself to make some ‘keeping in touch’ activity packs to support the children in playing with their Dad’s during video calls and in preparation for the visits when they return. Elinor put in a huge amount of time, detail and consideration to make the packs look inviting and eye catching. These packs have been shared with other services and have been a key innovative piece in the family video calls that take place.  

Elinor has truly gone over & above in her role to make this exceptionally hard time as positive as possible to ensure that the children & families can use their video call time for some positive family experiences, which in turn will have a huge impact in not only strengthening the family relationship but as research informs, reducing the rate of reoffending

This year’s Regional Winners are:

  • – Central – Aribah Mohamed 
  • – London – Siya Raicar 
  • – Northern England – Katie Parker 
  • – South East – Remi Burton 
  • – Scotland – Eve Ion 


Khadeeja chose to continue in her volunteering role, following the end of a short-term university placement at the service. Early on in her post, she volunteered to attend an intensive ‘Independent Support’ training session, so that she could increase her skills and provide direct support to families. Khadeeja uses her bilingual skills to offer support to vulnerable and hard to reach service users who would struggle to access the service without a translator. Khadeeja brings her IT and social media skills to the role which has helped the service to increase its reach and engagement. She is an enthusiastic and hardworking volunteer, whose ‘can do’ attitude and approachable friendly nature has been appreciated by both staff and service users alike.

This year’s Regional Winners are:

• South West and Midlands – Jessica
• Scotland – Katherine
• South East – Dina
• North West – Ella


Alex was initially referred to the Helping Young People (HYPE) Service in Bristol at the age of 16, when he was transitioning out of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Gradually, he began to take part in small pieces of participation and eventually completed a ‘recruitment training programme’. He now volunteers with HYPE, taking part in young people’s interview panels and supporting young people within the service to have a platform where their voices can be heard. Alex runs participation groups, leads activities and workshops, has assisted with presentations to train professionals and has presented young people’s films and feedback to groups.

This year’s Regional Winners are:
Scotland: Robyn, Child and Family Support Services
North West: Macauley, Barnardo’s Children’s Centre
South East & Anglia: Rebekah, Bucks CAMHS

Lauren and Marta


Lauren volunteers at Redland Nursery in Wiltshire, overcoming her own personal obstacles to provide support to vulnerable children in her community. She has built strong relationships with staff and service users and supports the children through a variety of activities, including playing outdoors, going on nature walks and messy play. Week in, week out, Lauren displays determination and enthusiasm and is a fantastic role model for all volunteers.


Marta has been an Early Years Volunteer in Peterborough since April 2014, giving her time at least one day a week, at times while studying full time at college. She is extremely dedicated to her role, even to the point of walking 2 miles in 30-degree heat to provide cover when a centre was short of staff. Marta has shown determination and resilience in her role despite her own learning difficulties and having English as her second language. Her confidence and self-esteem has grown during her time as a volunteer and she undertakes any task asked of her with enthusiasm, patience, willingness and self-determination.


Lauren volunteers with Barnardo’s in Bristol as a play worker, helping in the adventure playgrounds in some of the city’s most deprived areas. She originally began at Barnardo’s as a volunteer with the CAPI (Children Affected by Parental Imprisonment) service and had an apprenticeship with them.

Lauren also co-ordinates the ‘Kid’s Council’ which meets regularly and gives vulnerable young people the opportunity to share their views about how the playgrounds should be run and have a sense of ownership of the space they use. She has helped the members to develop their confidence, their interview skills so that they can assist in hiring staff and their cooking skills to help them gain independence.


Mark volunteers with Barnardo’s services in Preston as a volunteer young inspector, helping to evaluate children’s homes and fostering agencies. He also helps to train other young people, a number of whom have special educational needs and disabilities, to become inspectors and helps them to evaluate how suitable services are for young people with disabilities.

Mark is at the forefront of the service and has led meetings on several occasions with Lancashire County and Children in Care Council. As a Looked After Child himself, Mark works hard to contribute to others who share similar experiences to him to improve all of their lives.

Caitlin and Abby

Caitlin and Abbie have developed a service to support victims of sexual violence who have to attend court as a witness during the trial of their attackers, having spotted a gap in the services provided following their own experiences. The service users benefit enormously from the support that they are provided with, particularly as it comes from someone of their own age who they can relate to.

Caitlin and Abbie developed this service on their own initiative and are often involved in home visits and assisting staff in the delivery of Barnardo’s projects. They are very professional in their approach, appreciating the importance of safeguarding the people that they help and regularly collect feedback to help evaluate the effectiveness of their work.


Jenny volunteers much of her time to help raise funds for Barnardo’s and speaks at events to inspire staff, volunteers and clients alike, drawing on her own experiences as an ex-service user to make her a true ambassador for the organisation.

Jenny is the Chair of the newly formed Action with Young Carers Friends of Group and is a regular speaker at conferences, including giving a talk at the North West Volunteers Conference in 2011 and 2012. Although she is a busy mum, Jenny always makes time to volunteer and help Barnardo’s in any way that she can.


Nyla volunteers for the Newport Young Families Group and is a highly valued member of the team. She began volunteering at the group, having been a service user in the past and has made a big difference to the service, through her creative project design and her passion and enthusiasm for her volunteering role.

Nyla has represented Barnardo’s at a national level, at conferences and on interview panels, as well as in her local community, teaching dance and sports to young people. She has recently completed her first year at university, studying for a degree in Youth and Community Education.


Clare volunteers at Downpatrick’s Saturday Club, which she attended previously with her brother who has a severe learning disability, where she has shown maturity and empathy beyond her years. She has the ability to get on with the job, but also how to work with the children and whether they need support or need to be left alone. She is a very valued member of the team.

Clare is happy to give her time to volunteering at a number of other Barnardo’s services and projects, most recently beginning a weekly placement in the Forward Steps project, working with pre-school children who have autism.


Emma has been an exceptional volunteer for a number of years, offering emotional support and practical help on the Barnardo’s Independent visitor programme. She has overcome a number of personal and family struggles to become dedicated to her role as a volunteer, displaying outstanding commitment to helping young people.


Neil has volunteered for three years with the Howden Children’s Centre, giving his time during each and every school holiday to make a difference to children’s lives. He is involved in a number of activities which promote physical, intellectual, emotional and social development in young people.

Neil has actively encouraged parental engagement and his motivation and commitment to his role has encourages other young volunteers to become involved with the work of the centre.


Nicola has been an independent visitor for over two years, working almost exclusively with Zara, a vulnerable young girl with Asperger’s Syndrome making the transition out of care into independent living.

Nicola demonstrates maturity, commitment and professionalism in her role, managing the complex issues presenting by this specific befriending role and going above and beyond what is expected of her. Her persistence and dedication to supporting Zara has ensured that Zara’s needs, wishes and feelings have remained in the forefront.