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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Laycie Beck

Woman who makes a 'real difference' helping others in her community

A woman who has devoted her life to helping others has shared what it's like to be responsible for helping so many families in her Nottinghamshire town. Ginnette Hardy, 53, of Newark, has been helping others her whole life and but has been actively volunteering for a range of causes since the 1980s, including domestic violence, homelessness, housing and bereavement.

In March 2022 Ginnette set up the Newark Food & Well-being Hub which now helps around 80 families each week by selling bags of food valued at £10-£12 for £3.50. Ginnette explained that it was her husband who encouraged her to be more active in the community, saying: "I have volunteered on and off for the district council since 1988 when I was in homes accommodation.

"Then I met my husband and he got me into doing more volunteering as he was St John Ambulance, and anything and everything he volunteered for and of course he dragged me into it. He took poorly and sadly died five years ago from cancer, so I sort of said I would carry on and this is my way of giving back.

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"I’m unable to work and I’m disabled so I do what I can to make a difference. It’s nice to have the recognition but it’s really not my kind of thing, I prefer to go under the radar and just keep doing what I do.”

Speaking of the food club she runs, Ginnette said: "People think it is just putting things in 80 bags, but it's not just that. It can be stressful and it can be very rewarding, it's the little things like when a little lad comes up to you and says thank you for the shampoo that makes it worth it.

Some of the food that has been donated (Laycie Beck)

"I know I'm struggling right now so other people are struggling too. There is one lady that comes in and she takes four bags a week and that's all she can afford apart from buying a bit of milk and bread.

"You can be working or not working, it doesn't matter if you are in a council house or just a resident, we don't care." Ginnette is determined not to let anyone go hungry, and has even been called in the middle of the night with requests for help and created her own food boxes to provide help.

In addition to Ginnette there is around 20 volunteers who help with the food hub, most of which are in social housing and enjoy being able to "give back" to the community. Volunteer Joanne Wyld, 58, of Newark, said: "I volunteer because I'm unable to work at the moment and I feel like I'm giving a bit back to the community.

"We put in around 30 hours sometimes more, like this week I've done about 50. Newark resident Tania Morley, 55, has been volunteering for around three weeks. She said: "It's lovely, I'm really enjoying it.

Ginnette Hardy, Liz Hanbury, Joanne Wyld, Tania Morley and Yasmin Anderson (Laycie Beck)

"Sometimes I wonder how everyone else does it week by week, they all put in so much hard work." Fellow volunteer, Liz Hanby, 64, added: "I have been volunteering here for about six months and it's nice, I've always done something for charity but it was my daughter who introduced me to this."

Ginnette described the hub as "a real community effort" as it was initially created alongside a charity group who later backed out, and when "they left, we took it over as we couldn't let the families down." She added: "It was around 40 that were depending on us and now there is about 80 families."

For all her hard work with the food club, Ginnette was recognised for her dedication to the community with the ARCH Community Champion Award earlier this month. The award recognises individuals or groups who have dedicated their time to making a difference in their community and to the lives of people living in social housing.

Speaking of the award, Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Ginnette is a star in our local community supporting those who are in great need of help. She should be really proud for what she has achieved and the whole community is thankful for her determination and courage she has shown.

“During a time of great challenges and difficulties, Ginnette is a making a real difference to the lives of many.” In addition to picking up a food box, people can also have a free cup of tea and a chat with others in the neighbourhood as part of the food club.

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council handing over the ARCH Community Champion Award to Ginnette (Newark and Sherwood District Council)

Despite also being a carer and her own disabilities, Ginnette also runs a fortnightly hygiene bank, provides training opportunities and organises special events and courses for the community. Ginnette explained: "We did a kid's Christmas party and we are doing an Easter hunt which is part of the regeneration as they are knocking part of the estate down and rebuilding.

"We are looking at doing health and wellbeing sessions and a community meal at some point in the future. We are also looking at doing a slow cookery course and that will last for six weeks and then when what happens at the end of the six weeks is that they will get a slow cooker for free."

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