Major award to Rotherfield group

Rotherfield St Martin charity award. Members and volunteers with Jo Evans.
Rotherfield St Martin charity award. Members and volunteers with Jo Evans.

A village support group has won a £10,000 award presented at a star-studded London ceremony this month.

Rotherfield St Martin founder and manager Jo Evans and her team were invited to the ninth annual awards ceremony of the Centre for Social Justice at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. The occasion was the £10,000 award won by RSM after a successful bid to the Centre, the brainchild of Iain Duncan-Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

More than 350 people attanded the ceremony celebrating some of the country’s most effective grassroots poverty-fighting organisations. Awards were presented by John Frieda, June Sarpong, Neil Morrissey, Sgt Johnson Beharry, Esther Rantzen CBE and Ian Duncan-Smith MP.

Jo Evans said: “We were shortlisted with 15 other organisations out of the 200 which put their names forward. We attended an interview and hosted a visit. We’ll be using the money for ongoing development and work, including developing dementia support services such as day care.”

The award followed a grant of £3,688 given by the Sussex Community Foundation.

Jo said: “We are delighted to have received these awards. It means we can continue to support older people in our community and we’re really grateful for the continued support of Sussex Community Foundation and its donors.”

Rotherfield St Martin is a Church-in-Community Charity which provides support and care services to senior citizens and vulnerable adults in Rotherfield and the surrounding area. From humble beginnings just over eight years ago, it now has a membership of 350 and a volunteer team of 140.

The group provides social activities, a comprehensive health programme including therapies, exercise and hydrotherapy, volunteer driver scheme to take members to health appointments, computer training, art projects, outings, Holiday at Home running for three days in the summer and a befriender scheme to keep an eye on members, visit them at home or in hospital.

“We have one gentleman who lost his wife and went to live with his daughter who was determined he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life watching TV,” said Jo. “He’s a changed man. He comes to many of our activities and has benefited from exercise classes and hydrotherapy sessions. Most importantly he has made many friends and feels part of the community.”

The group recently received a Service Level Agreement with Wealden District Council to oursource the model of what it does.