Hackney CVS community awards

July 2023

Celebrating the community sector

  • Adiaha Antigha awards for community sector champions.
  • Gary Francis awards for outstanding young people.

The Hackney CVS annual awards evening took place in the idyllic surroundings of Dalston’s Eastern Curve Garden on Wednesday 19 July. Starting in the early evening, guests socialised in the garden and were treated to flavoursome Cypriot and Caribbean catering from two of Hackney’s lunch clubs, Hackney Cypriot Association and Lunch Up, Woodberry Down.

The evening was opened by our chair, Charles Middleton, who set the scene for the evening by highlighting the resilience of the voluntary and community sector in supporting local residents during challenging times.

The CEO of Hackney CVS, Tony Wong, was next up and took the opportunity to outline our new strategy, A Fairer Society, which sets out our priorities for the next 5 years.

Following the presentation of our updated strategic goals, Tony introduced our annual community awards, reflecting that they “provide a platform to profile and showcase the phenomenal work happening within our community”.

The Adiaha Antigha community achievement awards

Held in memory of Hackney CVS’ founder, the Adiaha Antigha community achievement awards recognise the hard work of the local voluntary and community sector and the sector’s success in contributing towards a fairer society.

This year we received 29 award nominations across four categories. Following voting across the sector, the nominees with the most votes in each given category became the 2023 award winners. In addition to the four awards, we also made one posthumous lifetime achievement award.

Scroll down beneath the photo gallery to find out which organisations received 2023 awards.

The Adiaha Antigha award for the individual or community that has supported people during the cost of living crisis and/or has campaigned against poverty

Awarded to: Max Mucenic and the Second Chance Cafe
The Second Chance Cafe is a community cafe run by a rotating team of 55 active volunteers serving lunch twice weekly from the St Mary’s Centre in Stoke Newington. They operate a ‘pay-as-you-feel, something or nothing’, and about 150 guests a week come sit and enjoy a free, nutritious hot meal, and take another away for later. One regular said, “This place is a sanctuary. I’m up to my eyeballs in debt, I have no food and no money”.

The Adiaha Antigha award for the individual or group that has done the most to support and empower LGBTQ+ communities

Awarded to: Rainbow Grow
Rainbow Grow is a Hackney-based LGBTQI+ inclusive community gardening initiative. They provide a welcoming space for LGBTQI+ people to grow edible plants in an urban environment.  Hundreds have participated in their gardening sessions and they’ve organised events with students and LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. Throughout lockdown, Rainbow Grow supported members by giving away seedlings and posting free seeds.

The Adiaha Antigha Community Achievement Award for the individual or organisation that has made a positive difference to the environment in City and Hackney

Awarded to: Terry Kinsella, The Leaside Trust

Leaside regularly facilitates river clean ups from canoes and kayaks involving the local community and so far this year has organised 8 of these events. They have also introduced environmental education into its delivery and are now in partnership with Ecoactive providing Hackney pupils with lessons informing and educating young people about our environment and the impact pollution is having locally and globally.

The Adiaha Antigha Community Achievement Award for the individual or organisation that has demonstrated commitment to the community

Awarded to: Joycelyn Dankwa, National Parents and Youth Open Forum
Joycelyn Dankwa has been unwavering in her commitment to the community to ensure their needs are met in any which way she can help. Building NPAYOF has been instrumental in bringing parents and young people together with the aim of reducing knife crime and gang culture to save our children from dying young and to wipe the tears from our parents’ eyes.

The Adiaha Antigha lifetime achievement award for commitment to the community, posthumous award

Awarded in honour of Jasmina Dimitrijevic, Refugee Women’s Association

Jasmina worked at Refugee Women’s Association for over 20 years and upheld RWA’s reputation of always going the extra mile, dedicating herself to being vital to some of the most vulnerable women in the local area.

In 2021, RWA’s longest running director, Simin Azimi sadly passed away, rocking the organisation to its core. Jasmina stepped up in an extraordinary way, rallying the staff, taking on the lead for the advice work, fundraising, project development and becoming the overall leader of the organisation. Jasmina put many, many hours into RWA – helping it through this very difficult time, to become again a forward looking, positive organisation.

Tragically in April 2023, Jasmina was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in June, leaving staff, clients, trustees and supporters completely bereft.

Jasmina put all her adult life into working to support Refugee and Migrant women in Hackney, she stepped up in challenging circumstances to be a leader, when she herself was grieving and she put everything she had into her work for the community. The Adiaha Antigha lifetime achievement award recognises Jasmina’s priceless work.

Click here to downoad the full list of nominations

The Gary Francis young achiever awards

Gary Francis

Gary was Hackney CVS’ Youth Programmes Manager. Sadly, Gary died from cancer in 2011 and we hold the awards each year in his memory and to celebrate the achievements of some fantastic young people.

This year we made four awards:

A gold level Gary Francis award to Grace Nankya Ssendegeya

Grace was proactive throughout the course of the pandemic, raising awareness, distributing leaflets and delivering food to community members – going above and beyond and demonstrating exemplary commitment and passion for their community.

A gold level Gary Francis award to Robert Taune

The Gary Francis awards panel felt this young person optimised what the Gary Francis Award is all about – achieving great things against the odds. Despite facing a number of challenges such as Williams Syndrome, high blood pressure, and learning disabilities, they are bringing people together with their warm personality and were noted as turning mundane activities into enjoyable experiences.

A silver level Gary Francis award to Jesse Orlando

The Panel were impressed by this young person’s success in overcoming their shyness to deliver the Tree of Life programme in schools.

The Panel felt this young person demonstrated strong commitment and passion, as they were said to be ‘reliable and full of energy’. The Panel admired that this young person was doing something in their community which could inspire others.

A bronze level Gary Francis award to Abigail Burland

The Panel commended this person for their demonstrated commitment to the Tree of Life programme, with their passion shining through. This young person has consistently shown leadership skills.

The Panel also noted that this young person was nominated by a peer, and therefore was evidently inspiring others around them.

Contact: For more information on our annual community awards, please contact our Director of Communications and VCS Support: Matt Bray, email: matt@hcvs.org.uk