Covid heroes honoured in photo competition

The winners are in for a Volunteers Week photo competition held by Redbridge CVS and judged by the Ilford Recorder. 

The winners are in for a Volunteers' Week photo competition held by Redbridge CVS and judged by the Ilford Recorder. - Credit: Redbridge CVS

The winners of a photo competition celebrating the volunteer heroes who stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic have been announced.

Redbridge Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) set up the contest, with the entries being judged by the Ilford Recorder.

The competition was held to mark National Volunteers' Week, which runs from June 1 to 7, and highlighted the work done by long-serving volunteers and those who started volunteering for the first time this year.

Redbridge CVS asked reporter Roy Chacko to judge the submitted photos and choose a winner and two runners-up.

The Tailor Family from Ilford won the Redbridge CVS photo competition for saving the first Christmas at Malachi Place.

The photo featuring Milan, Freena, Bhavini and Pravin Tailor took the top prize for their Christmas work at Malachi Place. - Credit: Nadine Puddle

There were dozens of submissions, with volunteers sending in a picture and their story about the work they did to help others during such a difficult year.

The contest was judged by the story behind the picture and not on the quality of the submitted photo itself.

Submissions ranged from selfies to paintings.

They came in from individual volunteers as well as volunteer-involving organisations and individuals who have benefitted from the help of volunteers.  

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The competition was stiff but the winner was sent in by the Ilford Salvation Army.

The photo highlighted the work of the Tailor family at Malachi Place, the supported accommodation project in Ilford town centre which opened right before the pandemic hit.

The family helped cook Christmas dinner for 42 vulnerable people there, for many of whom it was their first festive meal in years.

Nadine Puddle, of Ilford Salvation Army, said: "There was a slight panic when planning this as due to the Covid risk assessment only one person could safely be in the kitchen at a time."

Fortunately Pravin Tailor, his wife Bhavini and their kids Milan and Freena formed one bubble as they all live together so they offered to help.

The family, who have lived in Ilford for more than 30 years, have supported the night shelter for many years.

Nadine added: "It was a fantastic morning, great meals were prepared, and this was largely down to their efforts."

Jessica King is a runner up in the photo competition for her work volunteering at the Hawkey Hall vaccine centre.

Volunteer Jessica King is a runner-up after making the most of a difficult time when she was made redundant to help others by volunteering at the Hawkey Hall vaccine centre. - Credit: Jessica King

A runner-up was Jessica King, who has been volunteering at the Hawkey Hall vaccine centre in Woodford Green since December.

She described her volunteering experience, which came after she was made redundant in October, as "life changing".

Jessica continues to volunteer three days a week whilst looking for a new job.

She said: "It's been incredibly rewarding to see everyone's efforts come to fruition and most recently seeing my own friends and family being vaccinated.

Volunteer Jessica King said it's been incredibly rewarding to help her local community at the vaccine centre. 

Volunteer Jessica King said it is wonderful to help her community at the Hawkey Hall vaccine centre. - Credit: Jessica King

"It's a wonderful thought to know together we are helping our local community."

The other runner-up comes from the volunteers from GoodGym Redbridge, who have been helping Redbridge Covid-19 Mutual Aid at Frenford Youth Club

The exercise enthusiasts focused on keeping active while helping their community.

Volunteers at GoodGym Redbridge were a runner up in the Redbridge CVS Volunteers Week photo competition.

GoodGym Redbridge members used their time volunteering at Frenford Clubs to burn off calories and help the community at the same time. - Credit: Julia Shmotkina

The volunteers try to walk, run or cycle to the volunteer site and then use the time there to keep active while helping others.

Volunteer Julia Shmotkina said: "Our involvement started very small with individuals helping with deliveries, then doing small donation gathering in Hainault which we took by bike to the location of the mutual aid at that time in Woodford.

"As the mutual aid grew, which highlighted sharply the need for its services during the pandemic, it moved to a bigger location in Ilford at Frenford Clubs and more help was needed.

"Every three weeks around seven to 10 of our runners help at Frenford Clubs to pack and prepare household deliveries - three to four hours of great physical activity that beats being in the gym."

Volunteer Centre coordinator at Redbridge CVS, Liz Woodman, said: "A big thank you to all the amazing volunteers in Redbridge."

To find out more about volunteering in the borough, visit