Without exception the volunteers I have met over the past few years are wonderful people. Most simply want to give something back to their communities. They do not expect recognition for their work, but I believe very strongly that they should be considered.
The third sector is now supporting our country in an unprecedented way after a decade of austerity. Many organisations rely on volunteers who come from all walks of life, and couldn’t function without them.
There are so many fantastic people in our communities who could be nominated for national recognition. I’m talking about those people who quietly get on with things week in, week out – the stalwarts, the organisers, people who you rely on to get things done. You’ve probably wondered why they haven’t been recognised already.
The days of a civil servant in a Dickensian office rifling through lists to see who should be chosen are long gone. There aren’t official lists where names are added and eventually honoured. It’s not the choice or decision of your local council or MP.
If that’s the case then who nominates the hundreds of people recognised each year? The answer is simple: people like you and me.
How to nominate someone
I started encouraging people to make more nominations after my friend Robin was nominated and unexpectedly died before the process was completed. Don’t make the mistake I did. If you know a great person, nominate them, but remember that the only person you can’t put forward for recognition in the UK honours system is yourself.
It’s now easier than you think to propose someone for honours. Everything can be done by email and the government helpfully publishes all the necessary forms online. Various government departments also publish advice but, less helpfully, the advice is not collated in one document. That’s why I decided to write a "how-to" guide. Hopefully it’s easy to follow.
The nomination process has two parts: the citation and supporting letters.
There is considerable competition for honours and each nomination faces thorough evaluation and decisions based on the information provided in the citation form. Write the very best one you can and remember to say why you are nominating them now. My guide should give you the structure, vocabulary and aspects the selection committees expect. It’s not the time to be modest.
Please remember that it’s about the positive impact someone has made, not how long they have been a volunteer, how old they are or who they know.
It usually takes 12 to 18 months to process a nomination because of the background work undertaken by Cabinet Office officials (yes, they do make both HMRC and police checks). Initially, a nomination is assessed by a committee from the area in which the person volunteers, then by a Cabinet Office committee that reviews all nominations.
There are no deadlines for applications – you can submit your nomination at any time of year. Awards are announced as the new year approaches (end of December) and for the Queen’s birthday (mid-June).
You don’t nominate a person for a specific award. You make the nomination and the process decides.
I’m sure there is at least one person in your organisation you could nominate. We increasingly rely on helping each other as volunteers. It’s important we collectively value and recognise these contributions and each other. Don’t leave it too late.
Martin Matthews is a National Leader of Governance, graduated with the first MA Ed in governance and is an FRSA. He tweets as @mm684