The Argus' Pride of Gwent awards were held last week, in which a plethora of dedicated volunteers were hailed for their hard work during the pandemic. Here we highlight just one of them.

THE Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by United Welsh, has been won by Zuhaib Ullah for his work with The Gap Wales.

Zuhaib devotes several hours a week to fixing bikes for refugees to use to get about.

South Wales Argus: winner: Zuhaib Ullah

His voluntary work has provided well over 100 people with transport and a means of exercise, and prevented usable items from ending up in landfill. During the first lockdown he turned his back garden into a bike workshop and repaired close to 50 sets of wheels.

“I feel happy when I have fixed someone’s bike and they start riding it,” says Zuhaib, who was born in Pakistan and came to the UK as a student in 2013, moving to Newport in 2016.

Along with his bike-fixing activities, Zuhaib has taken on the running of The Gap’s community allotment, forming a small group who meet on Saturdays. He says he very much enjoys volunteering with the organisation.

“Zuhaib’s gardening and bike fixing volunteering has improved the wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees in Newport and improved the environment,” said his nomination.

United Welsh is proud to be sponsoring the Volunteer of the Year category.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers have worked tirelessly to support people in need, and United Welsh has seen the results of these tremendous efforts first-hand in communities where they provide homes and services,” says a spokesman.

As a not-for-profit organisation, United Welsh is passionate about building homes, creating communities and transforming lives.

In the next five years it intends to build 1,300 energy efficient homes, and is committed to working with partners to act on climate change.

While it provides over 6,000 homes for people across 11 local authority areas, United Welsh’s services also help thousands more in communities.

One such service is Connect, a project which supports older people to build relationships and get active to reduce social isolation.

Before March 2020, volunteers who work with United Welsh’s Connect project were volunteering almost 100 hours each week by leading social activities at sheltered accommodation.

Since then, Connect facilitators and volunteers have made over 1,500 wellbeing phone calls to older people living in United Welsh homes; making deliveries and reaching out with friendship to those at risk of feeling lonely.

United Welsh believes that the dedication of volunteers should be recognised. Last year, they launched the ‘I Find You Kind’ campaign; sharing stories and awarding acts of kindness by people in communities to keep others safe and well during the pandemic, as voted for by family members, friends and neighbours.

United Welsh congratulates and thanks all of the Pride of Gwent winners and finalists. “You have all gone above and beyond to improve quality and life and your communities,” it says.

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