Thousands now online

46. Joanne Curtis (Leeds)

Joanne has transformed her life and the lives of hundreds of others in her community

Joanne Curtis became disheartened living on the estate but with the help of her friend Nicola Greenan, she turned her life around and set up the Digital Lounge to help over a thousand local people get online, connected to their community and into work.

Joanne grew up on the post-war Seacroft Estate which is home to 18,000 people. Her friend Nicola noticed that Jo had lost her sparkle and was struggling to find regular employment in the area. As a result, Nicola set up the LS14 Trust in 2009 and asked Jo to come along and contribute her thoughts to the local meetings.

Initially, Jo had low confidence and wasn’t convinced about the contribution she could make to the area. After two years of voluntary effort working alongside Nicola, Jo set up her own group, the Digital Lounge Work Club, to help members to get back into work and it is now one of the most successful work clubs in the city.

Jo spends a huge amount of her free time volunteering and supporting the Seacroft community through the Digital Lounge, alongside working full time for the LS14 Trust. She has supported a repeat ex-offender into volunteering, who now acts as a mentor to other ex-offenders, as well as helping hundreds of people find help with various issues including debt, domestic violence, food poverty and loneliness.

Joanne said:

“I was chuffed to bits when I was told I was going to receive a Point Of Light Award. It’s a great feeling to be recognised for the work we do.  Winning the award means a great deal to myself and the LS14 Trust and its members and goes to show that being a volunteer has its rewards, the most important reward of all is of personal achievement. I would like to thank Nicola and all the Trustees for giving me the best opportunity in my working life.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Not only has Joanne transformed her own life through volunteering, by setting up the digital lounge she has got over a thousand people online in her community. Joanne’s vision and hard work has made a real difference in helping people to get into work and I am delighted to be making Joanne a Point of Light.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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