Volunteers for The Fed’s My Voice team, received momentous recognition when their representatives were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The Fed’s My Voice project documents the life stories of Holocaust survivors and refugees living in Greater Manchester. Since its inception in 2016 the project has helped survivors tell their stories through the creation of their own books.
A set of the volumes are housed at Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre) in Jerusalem, Israel.
The award – the equivalent of an MBE for volunteering groups – was bestowed for “preserving the legacy of Holocaust survivors by recording their life stories”. Two of the project’s volunteers, Mandy Leigh and Sharon Eden, attended the official award ceremony representing all those involved who supported survivors in keeping their memories alive.
The group comprises befrienders – who build up close relationships with the storytellers, recording their memories in the person’s own words – as well as transcribers, editors, photographers, designers, translators, researchers and video producers. In the last 12 months they have provided an astounding 3,750 hours of support to the project, coordinated by a professional team including Louise Senderowich, project leader, Jocelyn Elton, communications and development officer and Juliette Pearce, The Fed’s volunteer services manager.
“My Voice celebrates the Survivors’ entire lives – not just the years of persecution, but their childhoods in communities which were decimated, and the rebuilding of their lives from the ashes,” commented Juliette. “We help to validate their lives. Their stories tell of their successes, of the wonderful contributions they’ve made to the Greater Manchester community and beyond, in terms of work, communal office and so forth. They are stories of triumph.
“This accolade acknowledges the care, sensitivity, dedication and exactitude of this group of volunteers. They come from all walks of life. They offer a huge variety of skills but they all have share the same passion and sense of enormous responsibility – not just to the survivor but to the loved ones they lost – to ensure they will never be forgotten, and that the positives in their lives will be celebrated.”