A CHARITY which helps hundreds of people with learning difficulties has won the Let's Do It Award 2010.
Speak Out in Hounslow, which has nearly 400 members, scooped the £1,000 top prize in the annual competition, run by Barclays, in association with the Chronicle.
It was one of five winners, receiving a total of £3,500, who were presented with their awards during a ceremony at Hounslow's Civic Centre last Thursday (April 15).
A cancer support charity and a play centre were among the other victors, who also received the offer of help from volunteers at Barclays.
Presenting the awards, Mark Flatt, Barclays Hounslow branch manager, said: "There are more than 700 organisations in this borough doing charity work but they don't always get a voice to tell people what they're doing.
"We didn't just want to hand over a cheque, we wanted to help highlight the good work these groups are doing and to give them the benefit of help from our staff, who volunteer at about 350 events every year."
Full list of winners - see page 2
Speak Out in Hounslow (overall winner - £1,000)
Running since 2002, and boasting 373 members, this charity works to improve opportunities for people with learning difficulties.
Members organise a variety of social groups and outings, as well as campaigning on issues like the battle to bring specially-adapted Changing Places toilets to the borough.
It will use the money to help fund its women's group, which meets every month with a special guest speaker offering advice on everything from staying healthy to voting.
Lisa Maher-Middleton, who helps run the women's group and nominated the charity for the award, said: "I feel really emotional. This money will make a big difference to the women's group, which is really empowering."
For more information, call 020 8758 2048
Tuesday Club (volunteering winner - £500 plus a team of volunteers from Barclays)
A social club for people with learning disabilities, aged 17 to 65, this group meets every other Tuesday at St Bridget's Church Hall, in Isleworth.
The charity, which was set up seven years ago, plans to use the cash to organise a social outing for its 40-odd members.
Co-founder Maureen Hill said: "This is a very lively social club and we're very excited to receive this award."
Brentford Toy Library (volunteering runner-up - £500)
As well as lending toys to its 500-odd members, this volunteer-led organisation runs play sessions three times a week: Tuesday and Thursday, 10am-midday; and Fridays, from 1.30-3.30pm.
Based at St Paul's Parish Centre, in St Paul's Road, Brentford, the charity was set up 15 years ago to provide poorer families with access to toys they may not otherwise be able to afford. It is open to children aged from birth to five, though older siblings are welcome in summer.
It runs music and movement sessions and art and craft classes every other Thursday, with members of charity Home-Start and local councillors on hand to offer advice and support on Tuesdays.
General manager Sally Malit said she was delighted with the award and planned to use the money to fund an outing to Legoland.
"Most of our users are on restricted incomes so this will give give them an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have," she added.
For more information, call 07510 346 513 or visit www.brentfordtoylibrary.org.uk
Woodlands Estate Residents Association (volunteering runner-up - £500)
Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, this well-established residents group plans to use the money to help restore the sports field at the heart of the Isleworth estate.
The cash will pay for a disabled pathway to ensure the facilities can be used by all of the 400 or so households on the estate.
The charity still hopes to raise another £60,000 to refurbish the two tennis courts on the estate, which are used by children with learning difficulties from the nearby Oakland School.
Joyce Diment, from the group, said: "It's a real honour to receive this award and the money will make a big difference to people living on the estate."
Mulberry Centre (Barclays money skills award - £1,000)
Based at West Middlesex Hospital, in Isleworth, this charity has provided support and advice to thousands of people affected by cancer since being established in 2001.
The centre is there for anyone who has cancer, is caring for someone with cancer or has lost a loved one to the disease in the last two years, regardless of where they live or which hospital they attend.
Open Monday to Friday, from 10am-4pm, it offers counselling, advice and complementary therapies, as well as running support groups. It also has a well-stocked library, available for people to browse at any time.
Community fundraiser Joan McIntyre said it plans to use the money to improve its welfare rights support, ensuring those affected by cancer can afford to heat their homes and meet basic living costs.
For more information, call 020 8321 6300 or visit www.themulberrycentre.co.uk