BEAMING from ear to ear, 38-year-old Jamie Hamilton clutches his award for services to the community.

Going above and beyond the call of duty, the employment and development worker at Aspire Oxford was recognised for his work improving his clients’ health and wellbeing.

Aspire, a not-for-profit company which helps ex-criminals, the homeless and vulnerable find steady employment, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year by honouring its biggest helpers.

Mr Hamilton said: “It was an amazing feeling to be recognised like this and totally unexpected.

“For me I’m just doing my job and if I can help someone, at the end of the day that is enough of a reward for me. I work really hard because I want to help these people and give them the second chance they deserve.”

Having had similar experiences to the men and women he now works with, Mr Hamilton has focused on increasing his clients’ confidence levels, helping them to be ready to take the step back into work.

He said: “I’ve been working for Aspire for almost three years now. If anything it has taught me that you need to put the work in at this point to make people ready to go back to work.

“I work with 40 to 50 people and I just love being able to help them get back on the right path and back into employment.”

Mr Hamilton has focused on getting service users who were entrenched in addiction into sports and physical activity.

He has recently sealed a three-year contract through Sports England to enhance mental and physical well-being, through the programme Active Body Healthy Mind. Through the contract, Aspire can offer a range of sports including fishing, canoeing, climbing and horse riding.

He said: “I really want to expand our sports activities because things like canoeing and horse riding help boost people’s self esteem. Sport can be a great way for people to focus their energies, it gives them discipline and routine which is needed for the workplace.”

He has also undertaken work to engage with people vulnerable to reoffending, on licence and residing in Oxford’s bail hostels by developing Aspire’s relationship with magistrates and the Thames Valley probation service.

Aspire not only gives advice and coaching to its trainees, but also has a range of services it offers which can provide them with work experience.

It has launched a new scheme inviting people to pay an annual fee to become “Friends of Aspire” to help raise more funds.