Jayne Caslin, a caring maths tutor at Riverside College, has been appointed a British Empire Medal (BEM) award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her selfless volunteer work during the Coronavirus pandemic, providing those in need with food, medicine, and other essential items.
Jayne was nominated for the award by a local couple who had benefited from her actions and is in recognition of her tireless work to support those in the Halebank community during the pandemic.
Jayne previously volunteered at pensioner bingo sessions held at Halebank Youth Club and was also familiar with the Halebank area as her parents had lived there until they both sadly passed away in 2020. Jayne was aware of the help some of the residents would need as the country went into lockdown.
She said, “I was worried about people getting food, especially older residents who were shielding and had never used the internet to order food.”
Jayne very quickly found herself managing a group of volunteers who posted leaflets throughout the area with her contact details, urging people to ask for help or request it for others if they were concerned. The team were not only a lifeline to the local residents but also a huge source of comfort. Jayne made sure that when the volunteers dropped off food and medicine, they also had time to stop for a socially distanced chat with some of the lonely residents.
To add to the donations offered by members of the community, Jayne also managed to contact local and national companies including Morrisons, United Snacks and Halebank Farm Shop, who kindly donated goods to be delivered amongst the residents most in need. The campaign quickly grew, and some of the volunteers also prepared hot meals to be delivered to community members.
Jayne and the team of volunteers continued to help people throughout the first lockdown and then resumed activities during the second, adding special hampers at Christmas and Easter to their campaign, which they hope to continue doing moving forward.
She found out about the special award after reading her emails early one morning. She said, “I was shocked but really pleased and honoured when I read the email. I then had a call from the Home Office to confirm the award, but I couldn’t tell anyone the good news until the list was announced.”
“Initially when I started the project, I was aiming to keep busy because I had recently lost my mum, supporting others in this difficult time helped me to stay focused. I did this in my mum’s memory, and it is really nice to have been honoured for that. I feel privileged to have worked alongside so many kind volunteers who also gave up their time to make sure nobody went without during lockdown.”
College Principal Mary Murphy said, “We are all extremely proud of Jayne at Riverside College, she worked extremely hard during the pandemic. Not only did she help the local community, but she also continued to support and teach our students via online learning. She thoroughly deserves this award.”
Jayne is now awaiting her invitation to receive her medal in Chester over the next few months and is then looking forward to her invite to the traditional Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, which will hopefully take place next summer.