Mitzvah Day is a national day of social action where thousands of people take part in hands on projects to support charities and build stronger communities, is the latest winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.
Mitzvah Day was created in 2005 and this year over 150 local charity and community projects benefitted from people giving their time as part of the event. Based on the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedek (righteousness) and gemilut chassadim (acts of lovingkindness), the aim of the day is to reduce hardship and poverty and to help the environment.
Projects which have been supported in the past include Sunshine to Seniors where volunteers visit a residential care home to sing, read and help out, and tidying up enclosures at an animal sanctuary.This year’s event took place on Sunday 20 November with over 25,000 people donating over 50,000 volunteering hours including:
- office staff from over 30 offices donating their lunch to homeless shelters and soup kitchens as part of the Give Away Your Lunch initiative
- over 100 people from four different synagogues helping to plant trees at Heartwood Forest near St Albans for the Woodland Trust
- an estimated 40 tonnes of non-perishable goods and clothing were collected for a range of homeless and refugee charities
Congratulating Mitzvah Day on the award, the Prime Minister said:
Mitzvah day is a fantastic initiative to inspire people to come together on one day and do something positive for their community. The results have been outstanding with projects all around the country benefitting from the support of over 25,000 thousand volunteers.
I would like to congratulate the organisers of Mitzvah Day for all their hard work in making this day happen and all the volunteers who have supported it over the years. I hope the event continues to grow and make even more of a difference to the communities involved.
Accepting the award, Laura Marks, Chair of Mitzvah Day said:
Mitzvah Day is a great example of grass roots social action that works. Only six years old, the day is now not only firmly marked in the Jewish calendar, but is an important day in the calendar of schools, churches, mosques and other community groups.
In 2011, Mitzvah Day volunteers racked up over 50,000 hours of volunteering and we are absolutely thrilled to have our efforts recognised with a Big Society Award from the Prime Minister. We are proud to partner with so many great charities and organisations and they share this award along with us.
Notes to Editors
On Mitzvah Day
Founded in the UK by Laura Marks in 2005, Mitzvah Day UK has grown in a few short years to engage, in 2011, around 25,000 volunteers across the UK and abroad. Its founding principle is that supporters should give, not money, but time to make a real difference both within and beyond the Jewish community. Whether it’s tidying up a public park or collecting clothes for the Darfuri refugees, the projects supported by Mitzvah Day act as an introduction to volunteering and social action for many across the Jewish community and lead to a sustained engagement with over 150 charities supported by Mitzvah Day participants.
Mitzvah Day events took place in Britain in most of its major towns and cities including: Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Harlow, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool, London, Maidenhead, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Southend and Watford.
Internationally, Mitzvah Day events took place in Israel, Aix-en-Provence, Bratislava (Slovakia), Dublin, Istanbul, Prague, Lusbsko (Poland), Vilnius (Lithuania); and in Africa in Johannesburg, Plettenberg Bay & Hermanus (South Africa), Gaborone (Botswana), Harare & Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Windhoek (Namibia), Maseru (Lesotho), Mauritius, Maputo (Mozambique),Mbabane (Swaziland) and Lusaka (Zambia). Additionally there is a community wide Mitzvah Day in Melbourne and Mitzvah Days in the USA in NYC and LA.
Mitzvah Day contact details:
On the Big Society Awards
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
The award focuses upon 3 specific areas:
- promoting social action - people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources.
- empowering communities - local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others
- opening up public services - public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services