Thursday, 24 October 2013

Community Heroes Awards - a story

 With thanks to Kate Alan of BATCA for this guest blog

The  ‘Community Heroes’ award events run by the Balham and Tooting Community Association are a marvelous opportunity to honour unsung heroes – people from all faiths and cultures who serve others tirelessly, often with little recognition. BATCA is a network of faith and non-faith bodies that works in Balham and Tooting to bring the different side s of the community together.

The awards began in 2007 and are now in their fourth round. This year’s awards celebration will be held on Thursday 28 November (see below).  We expect to welcome a two hundred strong crowd from across the community. It’ll also be a seasonal celebration, with food and entertainment at no charge to celebrate the major faith festivals of Eid, Diwali, Hannukah and Christmas.

This is how it works: the public are invited to nominate outstanding individuals and teams. The nominations are assessed by a panel of independent judges, who have included among others our local MPs, the editor of the local newspaper, and leaders of key organisations such as the police,  fire brigade and our local hospital. This avoids favouritism and the result has always been that the award recipients reflect all faith, ethnic and cultural groups.

The presentation evening has a great feel to it. It’s led by a lively compere  (Cof E clergymen seem to have the worst jokes).  The awards are presented by local VIPs such as the Mayor of Wandsworth, Councillors  the MP, the borough police commander and so on.  A little bit is said about each recipient and their organisation. Usually, there's generous publicity in the local press.  Entertainment plays an important part, with community and church choirs, and Bollywood and Bhangra dance part of the mix.

Previous recipients of awards have been mostly volunteers, including a brownie leader, a chair of school governors, local environmental activists, a refugee charity volunteer, those looking after old people through their church, a mosque bereavement officer, and many more. Team awards have gone, for example, to the Talking Book service for blind people and a group of young Special Constables. Those honoured in their job roles include an old people's centre manager, a milkman who always looks out for his customers and makes sure they’re all right, an Asian women's charity organiser and a local pharmacist whose shop is a community hub.

Celebrating outstanding volunteers strikes a chord in all communities. People from all backgrounds have responded each time and come together for an inspiring and fun evening of community spirit.  ‘When is the next one?’ is the call each time!

   BATCA Community Heroes Awards and Seasonal Celebration
Thursday 28 November at 7.00pm
Jasmin’s Function Rooms, 202 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7TG

For more information, email or contact Kate Allan at or 020 8870 1550