Mayor awards London’s heroic volunteers

01 March 2012

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson will today salute the heroic work of volunteers to improve the quality of life for excluded and disadvantaged Londoners, support young people, reduce crime and green and clean the city, at the inaugural Team London Awards.

The award recognises the inspiring work that Londoners do in their own time, to make the city a better place. In particular the Mayor will be highlighting the outstanding work of Darwin Bernado, a 23 year old from Barnet who has been volunteering for the past seven years, touching the lives of thousands of youngsters.

At an early age Darwin experienced first hand the horror of violent youth crime, when at the age of 16 his friend died in an incidence of knife crime. Determined not to get locked into a downward cycle of crime, Darwin and friends began to set up workshops at his local school to inspire his peers who were at risk of getting involved or being a victim of youth crime.

Seven years on and the Darwin continues to volunteers, setting up the Nutmeg Community, which works with youngsters to get their lives back on track and help match them with opportunities in areas that are of interest to them. Since 2008, Darwin has worked with over 4,000 young people to help them positively engage with their local community.

Other shortlisted Londoners for Team London Awards include Frank Smith, an 89 year old partially sighted man who volunteers three times a week and Yusuf Atesogullari who didn't even speak English when he began volunteering almost 3 years ago.

Speaking ahead of the first annual Team London Awards, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘I am always deeply humbled by the heroic stories of the thousands of volunteers I meet each day, who are playing their part in helping to make this the best big city in the world. I would like to congratulate all 400 nominations and the final winners.

‘London is thriving in so many respects, but there are challenges too. How we tackle those challenges together is at the heart of Team London. I am very proud of what has been achieved through the support and commitment of London and I know we can continue to improve our local areas and communities for the better.’

The Team London Awards will celebrate the outstanding contribution of volunteers in London and their impact on our communities. In total 24 individuals, 12 organisations and 12 teams from across the city have been shortlisted for 16 awards.

Team London is an ambitious programme to mobilise an army of volunteers to help improve the quality of life for excluded and disadvantaged Londoners, helping to equip youngsters with the necessary training and skills to compete in the jobs market and green and clean the city. Launched less than a year ago, the initiative is delivering projects which are tackling some of the key issues facing the city such as crime, illiteracy, obesity, social exclusion of older people, skills training and mentors for young people.

Activities include Literacy Champions who will support more than 2,000 families and their young children in combating illiteracy, mentors for at least 1,000 boys who are at risk of getting involved in or becoming a victim of crime, and re-connecting up 1,000 older people to their community by equipping them with the necessary digital technology skills.

Boris Johnson will be supported in presenting the awards at City Hall this evening by Richard Taylor OBE, Barbara Windsor MBE, and Arsenal and England football player Kieran Gibbs.

Kieran Gibbs, footballer and volunteer said: ‘Too often Londoners and in particular young people are portrayed as not caring. I am pleased that these awards recognise the amazing that volunteers do to make our city a better place.’




Notes to editors

  1. Team London is the Mayor’s ambitious programme to mobilise an army of volunteers across the capital to improve life in London through programmes that will reduce crime, increase opportunities for youth and improve quality of life by cleaning and greening London and building stronger neighbourhoods. Since 2008, the Mayoral volunteering programmes and dedicated Londoners have joined together to reach a 100,000 volunteering milestone.
  2. The inaugural Team London Awards held on Thursday 1st March will be honouring volunteers in the following categories:
  • Improving Community Safety
  • Increasing Youth Opportunities
  • Building Stronger Neighbourhoods
  • Cleaning & Greening London
  • The four awards given out within these categories will be:
  • The volunteer who has shown the most enthusiasm and commitment within each of the above categories
  • The volunteer who has given especially valued long service or contributed particular depth of experience within each of the above categories
  • The group of volunteers that has achieved more towards each of the categories above by working together
  • The organisation showing the best practice in managing volunteers and/or showing committed and effective leadership in each of the above categories

4. The Team London Awards are managed in partnership with Greater London Volunteering (GLV).

5. For more information on Team London and to find and post volunteering opportunities please visit

6. Kieran Gibbs has been at Arsenal since joining the academy in 2004 - he is a regular at left back in Arsenal’s first team and has 2 Senior England International caps. He has been involved for many years with his local football team Old Coulson Colts. Every summer he volunteers to help out at a 3 day coaching weekend for kids age 6 – 12. He is also an ambassador for Quintin Kynaston school (London) charity project QK House – the school has a number of homeless children who live on the streets or hostels in Central London.


Press information, names of winners and photographs will be available from [email protected] and [email protected]