It is with great pride and joy that ELITE Supported Employment can announce that our Volunteer Of The Year 2018/19 has been award to Ritchii Gilbert! Ritchii first got in touch with ELITE after finding out about one of our Cardiff based projects – he decided that volunteering was the best way to get involved with ELITE. Starting off by helping our Cardiff based Job Club out of the YMCA, Ritchii has gone from strength-to-strength taking on various volunteering roles with dedication and precision.

The volunteer extraordinaire (as he has been dubbed by several staff members!) then ventured into the world of supported employment. Getting involved with the Cardiff University based Project SEARCH (part of our Engage to Change project), Ritchii was able to become a volunteer peer mentor – this involved supporting and enabling young adults with Autism and other learning difficulties. When the Project SEARCH interns finished the year, Ritchii was even invited to their graduation ceremony having played a part in their development! His next step brought him to our Head Office in Llantrisant where Ritchii began mentoring one of our Clerical Assistants called Sam. Over many months, Ritchii used the skills and techniques he learnt in training and Project SEARCH to develop Sam’s administration and communication skills as the pair became familiar faces on the front-desk of ELITE’s reception area. While these achievements would have been more than enough on their own, Ritchii didn’t stop there. As he became part of the ELITE family, Ritchii’s drive in wanting to help more saw him volunteer in many other areas!

Given his experience, alongside his incredibly friendly personality, Ritchii was highlighted to become ELITE’s first ever Volunteer Ambassador. Assisting the marketing and volunteering teams, Ritchii attended events alongside ELITE staff members to promote our services and projects. In schools, colleges and universities; Ritchii showed us how talented he really is, engaging with hundreds of people to tell everyone about the good work ELITE carries out. Still wanting to do more, Ritchii currently assists our administration and financial departments as a Volunteer Clerical Supporter. His eye for detail and fantastic administration skills led to both departments requesting his help… naturally a compromise was made as he currently splits his time between both departments!

Ritchii receiving his Volunteer of the Year award

Given he is part of the set-up in ELITE, Ritchii didn’t think too much about it when he was asked to attend our recent monthly updates meeting… only for CEO Andrea Wayman and COO Kathy Rivett to spring up in the meeting room. Ritchii, in front of his colleagues and friends, was awarded the Volunteer Of The Year Award to a thunderous applause! Benny Griffiths, who oversees Ritchii’s volunteering, has this to say on Ritchii’s award:

“It really is well deserved! Every year the management team all place a vote on who will win the Volunteering Award… Ritchii was the first person I recall winning by a unanimous decision! He really defines the meaning of volunteering – a selfless individual who always wants to do more for a cause they truly believe in. You see how much Ritchii cares about equality in employment so, for him, the drive to help more comes naturally. The award from Andrea and Kathy really took him by surprise, especially when our staff members Erika and Sue came up to give him a couple of extra bits to say thank you… I know the paperweight trophy and Turtle Bay gift-card were welcome additions!”

Ritchii really has become part of the ELITE family. His positivity spreads throughout the office and every staff member is thrilled that he is part of our set-up. From everyone at ELITE Supported Employment – thank you Ritchii for being our Volunteer Extraordinaire!