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Voluntary Groups Honoured as Sewa Pioneers Award Winners 2013

(PRWEB) March 21, 2013

The Sewa Pioneers Awards recognise those with the spirit of selflessness who devoted time to the service of others through global volunteering initiative Sewa Day. In October 2012, 50,000 volunteers in over 20 countries took part in Sewa Day projects that enhanced the environment, relieved poverty or brought joy to those less fortunate in their local community. Sewa Pioneers Awards recognise outstanding social action projects that create a positive impact on local communities and act as a catalyst to inspire further selfless action.

Also among the winners were five outstanding schools projects from Dubai and across the UK, warmly welcomed by Members of Parliament supporting the initiative, including: Gavin Barwell MP, Bob Blackman MP, Mike Freer MP, Barry Gardiner MP, Steve Pound MP, Virendra Sharma MP, Gareth Thomas MP and Baroness Sandip Verma. Representatives from Councils already committed to Sewa Day included Cllr Vidhi Mohan (Croydon), Cllr Julian Bell (Ealing), Cllr Muhammad Butt (Brent) and Cllr David Parry (Harrow). Partners include Amnesty International, UNESCO, The Big Issue, Guardian Teacher Network, BT, Lloyds Banking Group and The Woodland Trust, among many others.

Since its launch in 2010, global volunteering initiative Sewa Day has exceeded all expectations with tens of thousands of people rendering their service to others, selflessly. The first Sewa Day took place in November 2010. Over 5,000 people, of all ages and from all walks of life, participated in over 130 projects across the UK. By the second Sewa Day, which took place in September 2011, the initiative had gone global with 15,000 people taking part in projects across 15 countries. Sewa Day 2012 was even bigger with an estimated 50,000 people taking part directly and through new partners in over 20 countries.

The three principle aims for Sewa Day are to alleviate human hardship, improve the environment and bring a little joy. ‘Sewa’ involves performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward. It is performed selflessly and without ulterior motive. And yet the social return on sewa is directly measurable. Independent economic analysis of the initiative conducted in 2011 has shown that Sewa Day provides £4.40 of net benefit to Britian for every £1 expended, which approximates to £300,000 of monetized net benefit from a single day of volunteering!

“Whilst the inherent nature of ‘sewa’ is selfless service, we could not continue without acknowledging the excellent range of initiatives that Sewa volunteers have created, germinated and nurtured,” said Arup Ganguly, Chairman of Sewa Day, “while every single person who took part in Sewa Day 2012 deserves our heartiest congratulations and deepest appreciation, ultimately, the judges were tasked with picking their favourite projects.” The judging panel comprising Jon Aarons, Senior Managing Director in the Strategic Communications practice of FTI Consulting; Lopa Patel MBE, Digital Media Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of and Nupur Singh, Director of Human Resources (UK & Ireland), Tata Consultancy Services met in February 2013 to pick the shortlist and winners deserving of a Sewa Pioneers Award.

Sewa Pioneers Awards 2013 Winners

Voluntary Groups (in alphabetical order)

  •     Exemplaris – for organising a diverse range of activities including providing free professional advice & health clinics, feeding the homeless, and collecting clothes to benefit local charities in Southall.
  •     Food for Life – for encouraging 70 volunteers in Hong Kong to come together to cook and feed 1,000 underprivileged people.
  •     Om Unity Group – for involving 107 volunteers in making the Keech Hospice, in Luton, a more brighter, cleaner, and harmonious environment for its residents.
  •     Reachout Now – for organising a clean up on the footpaths of the Grand Union Canal in West London where 80 sacks of litter were collected by 60 volunteers on Sewa Day.
  •     St. Philip’s Centre – for their commitment to multi-faith engagement in environmental & conservation projects in Leicester.

Sewa Pioneers Awards 2013 Winners – Schools (in alphabetical order)


  •     Barham Primary School, Wembley, London - Pupils provided entertainment at the local home to the elderly.
  •     Ealing Tuition Service, Ealing, London - Pupils worked with the Ealing Council Park Rangers' Nature Conservation programme helping to clear a public footpath in the local area.
  •     Radford Primary School, Nottingham - Cooking meals and taking them to a homeless soup kitchen, going to a day centre and talking, entertaining and taking part in activities with the elderly day centre users.
  •     Our Own English High School, Dubai - The school hosted a Tree Plantation Event as part of the One Million Trees Initiative and raised awareness among the students regarding the need to preserve the planet by planting trees.
  •     The Kindergarten Starters, Dubai - Students took part in a musical performance that addressed the existing social and environmental issues. The play engages with the audience to highlight how service brings peace and harmony.

About Sewa Day

The aim of Sewa Day is to provide people with a chance to give back to the community through volunteering on a single day to make a difference. As such each event organised must be based on at least one of the guiding principles below:

  •     To relieve hardship and poverty
  •     To bring a little joy
  •     To help the environment

All the events take place on the same day or for schools during the week and do not include any fund-raising activities. From infants through to pensioners, anyone can get involved and make a difference. Community groups, local councils, schools, temples, mosques and businesses have enlisted their support for this initiative. This year, Sewa Day takes place on Sunday 6th October 2013 and individuals can volunteer for local projects through local partner organisations.

Sewa Day is a registered charity (no: 1146848). For further information visit |

For more information and images of Sewa Day projects that have taken place, please contact Sanjay Mistry on 07810 368 772/

Notes for Editors:

Case Studies of the Sewa Day Pioneers Award Winners 2013 - Voluntary groups:

Voluntary group listed in alphabetical order

Exemplaris – for organising a diverse range of activities including providing free professional advice & health clinics, feeding the homeless, and collecting clothes to benefit local charities in Southall.

The Exemplaris project was a high-impact initiative that offered several free professional advice clinics, run by people from within the Afghan Sikh community. The clinics covered; Legal, Careers and Education advice, Advice for Asian women's rights, Dental, Optical and General health advice. Exemplaris also prepared langar (free meals) for the homeless and organised a charity clothes collection where over 2,000 items of clothing were collected. Exemplaris involved a coordinating team of 20 young project leaders and 35 volunteers in total reaching out to over 100 people.

Judges cited this as an “exemplary” Sewa Day project that required diverse skills and detailed planning. They particularly liked the fact Exemplaris had a mixed group of young volunteers from a small community and made an impact within a select area via the Gurdwara and the wider community by delivering langar and charity clothing in the neighbourhood and beyond.

Food for Life – for encouraging 70 volunteers in Hong Kong to come together to cook and feed 1,000 underprivileged people.

Hong Kong has the highest income disparity ratio in Asia, with primarily elderly people having very little money given the very high living costs, which limits their access to good fresh food. 70 volunteers mainly from Deutsche Bank washed, chopped, cooked, packaged, and delivered food to over 1,000 underprivileged elderly people spread across three locations in Hong Kong. The vegetarian meals included a wholesome mixed vegetable curry, rice, and boiled greens. The project was sponsored by Dixit Joshi, Deutsche Bank Head of Asia Equities and also saw volunteers come from Ernst & Young LLP and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Judges commended Food for Life, “this is an outstanding Sewa Day project that clearly demonstrates the cohesive effect of a group of work colleagues doing sewa. What makes it outstanding is that it takes the concept of ‘sewa’ to the Hong Kong Chinese community whilst also calling on the resources of local companies. Although the food was sponsored by Deutsche Bank, it is volunteering that made a huge impact (1000 people benefited). The Food for Life project is a shining example of a Corporate Sewa Day project that we hope others may be able to emulate in the coming years.”

Om Unity Group – for involving 107 volunteers in making the Keech Hospice, in Luton, a more brighter, cleaner, and harmonious environment for its residents.

This is the third year that Sewa Day volunteers have helped the Keech Hospice in Luton bring a little joy to patients, their families and staff. 107 volunteers painted various rooms; stuffed envelopes; packed goodie bags; tidied a children's toy room; cleaned charity pots; tidied a path leading through to a nearby woodland area; general gardening chores and painted a 'Santa sleigh'. The project helped Keech by completing many of the time-consuming tasks that make a difference to the day-to-day running of the Hospice.

Judges felt that “the dedicated Sewa Day team working at Keech Hospice has shown that it is possible to work at a specific location on several occasions and still find valuable volunteering work to do. This team is well-organised and creative and continues to build on the Sewa Day initiative for other volunteering opportunities at the Hospice throughout the year.”

St. Philip’s Centre – for their commitment to multi-faith engagement in environmental & conservation projects in Leicester.

Volunteers from Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities teamed up with the St Philip’s Centre in Leicester to mark Sewa Day with a project to clean up the Fludes Lane area of Oadby in Leicestershire. Volunteers cleared the area of litter and planted flower bulbs with the help of Oadby and Wigston Borough Council who supported the initiative by providing jackets and equipment for the clean-up.

Judges felt that this was an outstanding Sewa Day project for a number of reasons:

  •     involving many faiths, the Council, the Mayor and people of all ages
  •     choosing a high-impact local environmental clean-up and conservation project
  •     excellent organisation and accompanying PR activity by the committee
  •     their understanding of the Sewa Day brand and working within its parameters without overpowering or attenuating it.

Reachout Now – for organising a clean up on the footpaths of the Grand Union Canal in West London where 80 sacks of litter were collected by 60 volunteers on Sewa Day.

Rebecca Williams of the Canal & River Trust of Paddington, London, was cited for organising a Canal Clean Up project which involved approximately 60 people helping in different areas of the canal in West London. Activities included people of all ages, including children, walking along canal and picking up litter for almost 5 hours. In total 80 sacks of rubbish were collected and deposited in a special barge. Some really hazardous and filthy rubbish was collected and removed to ensure that this heavily-used area of natural beauty remained safe and clean for people to enjoy.

One judge commented “this was obviously a complex Sewa Day project to organise and I particularly liked the fact that children as young as seven years of age were involved despite it being quite dangerous (near a canal with all manner of rubbish). The impact of this exercise will be felt for quite a while and will, hopefully, encourage others to join in next year.”

Case Studies of the Sewa Day Pioneers Awards 2013 Winners - Schools:

Schools (listed in alphabetical order)

The Sewa Day project in schools is a week-long initiative that allows individual establishments to host assemblies, explain the concepts of sewa (“selfless service”), use the free classroom resources provided by Sewa Day and organise activities that enable students to perform an act of sewa either within the school or in the community.

Barham Primary School, Wembley, London

At Barham Primary School in Wembley, London, the school assembly was led by the head teacher to launch Sewa Day projects that included creating a sharing of old spectacles collection box and a poster competition. Teachers followed this up throughout the week using lesson plans provided and discussions based on the three guiding Sewa principles. There was school clean-up initiative throughout the week involving nursery and reception year pupils. Pupils also provided entertainment at the local Copland Nursing Home to the elderly and organised a collection for St Luke’s Hospice.

Total Number of Participants: 900
Total Impact: 900+

Ealing Tuition Service, Ealing, London

On Thursday 11th October 2012, pupils and staff at the Ealing Tuition Service in London took part in various Sewa Day activities. Pupils in Key Stage 4 worked with the Ealing Council Park Rangers' Nature Conservation programme helping to clear a public footpath in the local area. The path had become overgrown with scrub and low branches, which has encouraged crime and antisocial behaviour. Key Stage 3 pupils took part in activities in and around the school, helping to clear the area of litter. Pupils also helped plant bulbs and flowering shrubs to improve the overall appearance of the outside area. A further group of pupils took part in the Vision Aid Overseas programme – recycling old spectacles, helping to transform eye care services in developing countries.

Total Number of Participants: 16 pupils and 17 staff.

Judges said “We liked the fact the school had collaborated with Ealing Council to clear a local park with the help of their Key Stage 4 students and in-school environmental projects with Key Stage 3 students despite the inclement British weather. Well done for the perseverance.”

Our Own English High School, Dubai

Our Own English High School, Dubai, undertook a mass Sewa Day tree planting project conducted on Tuesday 9th of October 2012, in support of the One Million Trees Initiative, launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The event was jointly organized by the Dubai Police Academy and the Varkey Gems Foundation with a total of 200 saplings planted at the GEMS OOEHS Al Warqaa campus. "This project was a labour of love for all those who were involved in it. We are all very proud of the new campus we moved into just a year ago. But the fact that its sprawling grounds were so bare and brown always rankled with us. So when the idea was suggested that we take part in the 'A Million Trees' initiative as part of Sewa Day we couldn't help imagine how beautiful our campus would look with several majestic trees growing on it.”

Total Number of Participants: 50 Primary boys aged 8-10 yrs, 30 Girl Guides aged 12- 17yrs, 20 School prefects aged 15- 17 yrs, 30 Neptune house prefects aged 13 - 17 Yrs, 50 Teachers of senior school, 20 Admin staff and support staff.
Total Impact: 9000 students

Judges described this initiative as “a super effort for Sewa Week with over 200 saplings planted as part of the ‘One Million Trees’ initiative that involved a mixed group of boys and girls of all ages”.

Radford Primary School, Nottingham

Radford Primary School in Nottingham decided to make Sewa Day s a whole school project planned over the year to take place in the summer term. Every child and member of staff got involved and chose the activity they wanted to be involved in which included:

  •     cooking meals and taking them to a homeless soup kitchen,
  •     going to a day centre and talking, entertaining and taking part in activities together,
  •     having a coffee morning for OAPs,
  •     sharing stories and tea party with grandparents,
  •     a talent show for OAPs and members of the community,
  •     planting in areas around school,
  •     designing and painting a large mural for an outside wall,
  •     helping shoppers at a local supermarket,
  •     clearing litter in the local area, parks and streets.

Total Number of Participants: 210 and children took part and 25 staff.
Total Impact: 150 – 300

Judges were complimentary about Radford’s approach saying, “we particularly liked the fact that the students had come up with Radford’s ideas for Sewa Day projects and had then carried out their plans. We were impressed that all their projects were community focused and ambitious in their variety and the fact that they got local councillors and the Lord Mayor involved. Perhaps next year Radford can vote on one major project and get all the students to focus towards one volunteering activity for even greater impact?”

The Kindergarten Starters, Dubai

Students in Grades 4 and 5 from The Kindergarten Starters, Dubai, presented a musical skit entitled ‘Start a Valuable Endeavour (S.A.V.E.)’ to a packed audiences at Mirdif City Centre, Dubai on Thursday September 20th 2012 and at Lamcy Plaza on the 3rd of October 2012. Based on an idea devised by the Principal and a script that was written and directed by music teacher Duane Tully, the theme of the mall play addressed the existing social and environmental issues about conserving the flora and fauna of mother earth and about finding solutions to the social hardships faced by man today such as begging, killing, poverty, abuse and hunger. The play was tightly compressed into a 10 minute choreographic display of music, dialogue, dance and action. “Through this melodrama performed for the public, our students not only became aware of the environmental and social issues around them, but also spread this awareness among their friends and the wider community,” said Mrs. Latha Venkateswar.

Total Number of Participants: 50 participated
Total Impact: It benefited 800 adults and 700 students

Judges praised the innovative idea saying, “it is great to see a street play about social and environmental issues - we particularly liked the fact that they had taken their performances outside of the school to the malls. Raising awareness about social and environmental issues is important and we hope that next year they will also be able to collaborate with volunteering initiatives to raise awareness and undertake some environmental clean-up work at the same time – a new form of performance art!”

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