A young Bradford student who works tirelessly with children with special needs and disabilities has won national acclaim for her uplifting nature and sheer dedication.

Khadeeja Bashir, 21, volunteers with Barnardo’s Bradford SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service), was awarded the nationwide Marsh Trust Young Volunteer of the Year Award.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan presented Khadeeja with the award at a special celebratory event at the HQ of Sainsbury’s in London for demonstrating an exceptional level of support and commitment.

Barnardo’s SENDIASS helps parents and children with special educational needs to navigate the system, so that people can get the best for their children.

Khadeeja says: “I started at Barnardo’s for just two weeks when I had a placement from my degree at the University of Bradford, but I liked the atmosphere in the team so much that I stayed on as a volunteer and that was nearly two years ago. I knew I wanted to work with families so it made sense to carry on.

“I shadowed the case workers going to different schools and meetings with parents and children and I do administrative office work, so I helped the team to make their working lives a little easier. Everyone is there for each other and the team have been great.”

On winning the prestigious award Khadeeja says: “I went to London not knowing what to expect and it was just amazing.

“I’m so grateful to Barnardo’s for giving me the opportunity and the experience. I’m just appreciative that out of the thousands of Barnardo’s volunteers it was me who was selected as the Volunteer of the Year. My parents are very proud of me as it’s a national award and I haven’t even completed my degree yet.”

And Khadeeja was especially pleased to be representing her home city at the awards in London.

“I’m very proud to be from Bradford – it’s a big thing for me and I feel like I’m representing the city. It’s such a great multicultural place and it’s good to be recognised for making a difference and so that people can see Bradford in a different light.”

Khadeeja was nominated by Debbie Jowett who manages the SENDIASS service. She says, “Khadeeja is an integral part of our team and she supports each and every team member – she always lifts the mood of the office with her bubbly personality.

“She has shown incredible commitment to the service and continues to do so, and it has been lovely to watch her learn and grow in confidence during her time here. She deserves recognition for her input, without which we wouldn’t be able to dedicate the same amount of time to support families in the way we do.”

Barnardo’s Director for the North, Steve Oversby said, “I’d like to thank Khadeeja for all she has done volunteering for Barnardo’s and congratulate her on this richly deserved award.

“Every year, our staff and volunteers work tirelessly to support vulnerable children and young people who need our help the most. They put faith in children who may not have had the best start in life, as they know that incredible things can happen when you believe in children.

“Without our amazing workforce and volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to keep making a difference to children’s lives. These awards show our appreciation for everything they do to give some of the most disadvantaged children and young people in our society a better future.”

Barnardo’s has more than 8,000 committed staff and more than 20,000 dedicated volunteers, without whom, many children and young people would not get the vital support they need every day.

Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the dedicated volunteer’s page on the Barnardo’s website: http://www.barnardos.org.uk/get_involved/volunteering