Co-op Foundation Chair receives MBE in King’s first official birthday honours list
Jamie Ward-Smith, Chair of Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation, has been awarded an MBE in the King’s first Official Birthday Honours List.
Jamie, Foundation Chair since 2016, has received the honour for services to young people and charity. It recognises a distinguished career in which London-born Jamie, 55:
- Took on their first CEO role in their 20s supporting a local volunteering centre.
- Co-founded and became the first Chair of the London Volunteering Network, which evolved into Greater London Volunteering (now called London Plus).
- Co-founded, launched and led Do IT.org – the UK’s first digital volunteer matching service. The tech behind this platform now powers ‘Big Help Out’ app.
- Led communications at YouthNet (now The Mix), the UK’s first digital charity designed to provide impartial advice and information for young people.
- Co-established the Russell Commission, a national review of youth social action, that would lead to the creation of the vInspired charity (forerunner to the National Citizen Service).
- Founded the Do IT Foundation – the first digitally powered grant-maker.
In addition to their role as Co-op Foundation Chair, Jamie is also Trustee at the Association of Charitable Foundations and London Cyrenians Housing. They have previously served on the board for Body Positive London – one of the UK’s first self-help groups for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Jamie, who now lives in a tenant-run housing co-operative, said: “I’m shocked and thrilled in equal measure to be recognised in the King’s first Official Birthday Honours List – I didn’t think things like this happened to people like me. I am so passionate and have so much love for the charity sector and I’d like to thank every person who’s helped me on my journey. Young people and the power of digital have been cornerstones throughout my career, and I hope to continue supporting both in any way I can in the coming years.”
The Co-op Foundation is Co-op’s charity, and it’s building communities of the future together.
The Foundation awarded £3.4m in grants in 2022 and released its new strategy, ‘Building communities of the future together’. This strategy will see the Foundation trailblaze a bold and co-operative way of funding community groups and young people to build future, fair communities and deliver on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a fairer world’. Jamie was part of the team who helped to build this strategy.
Allan Leighton, Chair of the Co-op, said: “Jamie has been an inspirational chair of the inspirational Co-op Foundation. They really deserve this recognition.”
And Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO, said: “Jamie’s MBE for services to young people and charity is richly deserved and testimony to their incredible leadership and bravery. The Co-op Foundation would not be the force it is today without Jamie’s foresight, passion and belief in co-operation. Thank you for being such an inspirational champion of young people, and for leading me on my journey as CEO. The Co-op Foundation team is so very proud of what you’ve achieved.”
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