A student at the University of Chester has scooped a prestigious national award for her dedicated volunteer work in helping offenders on the path towards rehabilitation.
Julie Illingworth, aged 40, beat off competition from across the UK to win a Student Volunteer Award at the Higher Education Volunteering Awards 2008, held at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United Football Club.
Julie, from St Helens, was one of just 18 prize winners chosen from more than 750 entries into the Awards. She was recognised for devoting more than 500 hours to working voluntarily with Cheshire Probation Service, IMPACT*, and SOVA*, on placements which included mentoring offenders with mental health problems at HMP Styal.
She said: “I was absolutely delighted to win this Award. It is encouraging to see the positive outcomes of my volunteering activity, not only to myself but also to other individuals and the wider community. Mentoring has allowed me to make a real and significant difference to other people’s lives.”
Julie, who is studying for a Criminology and Psychology degree at the University, became involved in volunteering three years ago when she heard about the placement opportunities available during her Induction Week.
Julie believes the greatest impact of her work can be seen in the successful reintegration of five offenders back into society, which has also had a ripple effect on members of the offenders’ families by changing their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviour.
Hosted by TV presenter Jake Humphrey, the Higher Education Volunteering Awards 2008 was a celebration of the achievements of staff and student volunteers across the country.
Claire Britton, the University’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, who nominated Julie for the Award, said: “The Student Development team is thrilled that Julie has won the Student Volunteer Award. Julie has dedicated a huge amount of time to her volunteer placements over the past three years, and her outstanding achievements deserve this high profile recognition. It's great that this standard of volunteering has been recognised officially outside of the University."