2020 Staff Winner

Dr Shanta Coles, Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange 

Shanta is passionate about supporting young people to reach their potential and has been a volunteer youth worker for the last 25 years in every place where she has lived including Stoke on Trent, Coventry, Leicestershire, South America, South Africa, and Greater Manchester. Her roles have included designing, delivering and evaluating youth music programmes, delivering youth camps, providing a safe space for young people to discuss issues, mentoring young people in care and supporting young women who have been sex trafficked.

Shanta has also volunteered internationally, undertaking a year-long programme of community development projects with street children in North East Brazil, setting up a youth group in Buenos Aires, Argentina and working with a young people’s choir in Zimbabwe.  

Back here in Manchester, Shanta, along with her husband, is a leader for a new youth club in Gorton which aims to transform the lives of young people and their families in an area with little youth provision. 

By investing in the lives of young people Shanta has supported their emotional, educational, and social development, helping them reach their full potential and changing the course of their lives.

2020 Student Winner

Holly Smith, School of Health Sciences

Want Not Waste began as a pop-up shop in the Students’ Union in December of 2018 and under Holly’s leadership has moved into its own premises next to the Manchester Academy.  The project aims to promote sustainable goods at accessible prices and the shop also serves as a recycling point for many products. The project creates an easy and accessible way for people to reduce their waste, whilst at the same time becoming more socially responsible as an individual.

Over this academic year Holly has moved the shop into a new space, expanded the product line, taken on and trained new volunteers, and strengthened the offer that Want Not Waste provides.

Holly and the team don’t just offer products; they give tips and tricks about introducing ‘zero waste’ into customers own lives, which helps people to get started making changes and introducing a more sustainable lifestyle.  The team also run workshops and events at no cost, to allow people in the local community to access information and support about reducing waste and making ethical swaps.  Any profits made from the shop are invested into the provision of free events for the community to continue to widen its scope.

2020 Alumni Winner

Joanna Melville, BSc (Hons) Psychology 2017

Joanna has six years’ experience volunteering with national charity Sexpression:UK in a range of pivotal roles. As Finance Director she overhauled the flat rate reimbursement system ensuring accessibility for volunteers from a variety of student backgrounds all over the UK. As National Director she manages a large student committee based all over the UK and abroad. She has created and implemented a new Child Protection monitoring process, and is creating welcome and volunteer information packs to increase retention and helping with publicity. 

Joanna has also been directly involved with the community, directly delivering sessions to hundreds of young people, including SEN and SLD young people in Manchester. Her work has improved SEN and SLD understanding across the organisation, ensuring further contribution across the UK, also enabling other volunteers to carry on her excellent work. The positive impact of change she has had on a national and organisational level directly affects hundreds of volunteers who now deliver high quality sessions, run inclusive events and campus advocacy, and build a better society for future generations of young people.


2020 Student Groups Winner

Student Angels, Students' Union

Student Angels is a night time street safety initiative; the volunteers act as friendly faces that people can ask for help from, as well as looking out for people who need help and acting as a deterrent to people who may want to start trouble. Student Angels provide anything from a chat and some water to first aid assistance. 

With around 15 volunteers, the Angels have helped almost 450 people since September 2019, including supporting people in 18 serious incidents and 185 drug/alcohol related incidents.  The Student Angels project is a significant commitment by volunteers, requiring hours of training, long shifts, late nights and bad weather – not to mention giving up their weekends!  Through their support, the Student Angels create real impact and change, helping to prevent potentially serious and dangerous incidents from escalating and ensuring that students at the University of Manchester stay safe.  Additionally, their presence and support on busy streets acts as a positive influence on the reputation of both the university and its students.