Stars of the community shine on awards night
On Thursday 23 February we held our 11th annual Stars of the community awards evening. Once again it was a wonderful opportunity to recognise the fantastic efforts and achievements of people who’ve worked to make a difference in our communities.
Around 320 people attended the event, which was held at the Macron Stadium in Bolton. Winners on the night, across eight categories, included groups and individuals who were nominated for an award by other members of the community or our employees.
In addition to the nominees we’d like to recognise the support of our generous sponsors who made the awards possible. Please find them listed after the winners’ stories and reactions.
We’d also like to thank Bolton Live for media coverage of the event, be sure to visit them online, and thanks to our customer involvement colleagues who organised an amazing evening.
Local performers also played their part. Kearsley Youth Brass Band, who provide free music tuition and instruments, played at the start of the event to welcome guests. And Dance Fusion, Tonge, and XDC Dance Group, Washacre, treated the crowds with dance routines involving local young people.
Of course the biggest thank you goes to everyone who was nominated and to those who took the time to nominate. If you weren’t lucky enough to be among this year’s winners, see below, don’t feel disappointed. Please continue your fantastic work, you’re truly all stars of your communities.
Mossfield Meadows Action Group, Sparkling environment star
The Mossfield Meadows Action Group has been the driving force behind transforming a derelict piece of land in Kearsley into a beautiful community space. Their dedication has been so valuable as they’ve turned an area that was an eyesore and a target for fly tipping, fires and antisocial behaviour into a place that families can safely enjoy.
The group consulted the local community and secured funding to make it happen.
The redeveloped site will also encourage local residents to grow their own organic food and they’ve planted lots of perennial flowers to attract butterflies, bees and other wildlife to the area.
Group member Jean Woods said: "We've put a lot of work in over a number of years but we get a lot from it and it's fantastic to be recognised in this way."
Men in Sheds at Willow Hey, Healthy community star
The Willow Hey Community Project was set-up as an outdoor facility for adults and children to develop a range of skills on a one-acre transformed allotment site in Farnworth.
Addressing food poverty has been a growing area of priority as more people have turned to food banks or gone without. Willow Hey has not only tackled food poverty, it’s improved the wellbeing of participants and helped to bring the community together with many new friendships formed.
As well as community food growing sessions, a Men in Sheds project has opened up on site for five days a week in partnership with Age UK Bolton. It encourages men to work together and share their skills to build things; for example planters, benches and bird boxes.
Men in Sheds at Willow Hey has been hugely successful. The men involved have built support networks and equipped themselves with the confidence and skills to cope with a range of issues including social isolation, bereavement, dementia, anxiety, depression and physical and mental illness.
Lee Harrision, Project Coordinator, told us: "Willow Hey is an incredible place. Someone did a sign for the way in that says 'welcome to wonderland' and it really is. It's been an amazing twelve months that has seen a number of people transformed healthwise."
Joe Crowder, Spirit of youth star
Joe, 16, is an amazing young man who does a large amount of voluntary work, including volunteering through Bolton Council with Bolton Canoe Club.
Joe is a white water kayaker and canoeist, and a qualified lifesaver and instructor. On Boxing Day 2015 he came to the rescue of those whose homes were flooded in Prestolee. A worried school friend contacted him about rising flood waters so he changed into his dry suit, put on his buoyancy aid and headed down to Riverside Drive where the swollen River Irwell had invaded homes. Joe helped an elderly person to safety and swam from house to house checking on residents, rescuing pets and moving furniture.
Also, last September, Joe came to the aid of a woman who’d been knocked over by a car in Bolton town centre. Joe, who is a trained first aider and studying as a nursing cadet, was passing by after college and didn’t hesitate to put his training into practice.
Joe, from Farnworth, said: "I just wanted to help when the situation presented itself. In the long run I want to become a paramedic."
Deane UCAN Centre Team, Bolton at Home star
Our colleagues were nominated by a recent customer who wrote to us saying: ‘They’ve helped to improve my life and boosted my chances of getting a job. Their help and advice is outstanding, especially in cases where people are really struggling. They do a brilliant job.’
We’re very proud of our team and all of our colleagues who run our UCAN centres and services from them. If you haven’t been to one before please know that you’ll get a friendly welcome, help with job searching and CVs, information on training, free use of computers, money advice, and much more. For full details of our centres, click here.
Mary Devenish, our Deane UCAN Centre Manager, told us: "The most significant thing about this award is that customers have put us forward for it, which shows they value our services. We're one big UCAN team and offer a people wrap-around support to help them improve their lives."
Terence (Tez) Finney, Personal achievement star
Tez joined our customer drama group, Dramatic Action, when it began in 2010. He’s been described as: ‘A fun member of the group, who lights up a room and is well respected amongst his peers.’
Tez has battled with alcohol addiction. He joined a detox programme and went into rehab two years ago, with support from Dramatic Action members, and he’s been off alcohol ever since.
He recently joined Addaction and became an ambassador with the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help others. In these roles, he draws upon his own experiences of addiction and recovery to educate students, parents and teachers about the triggers for misuse and what can be done to prevent it. Volunteers like Tez have overcome personal challenges and now live addiction-free lives, helping others to make informed choices.
Tez has been truly inspirational in how he’s positively transformed his own life and inspires others to do the same.
Tez said: "I have a good idea of the potential dangers to teenagers and young adults. I'll talk to them about the way it was for me and they listen. A lot of youngsters don't have anyone they feel they can open up to."
Lisa Weatherby, Taking a stand star
Lisa took a firm stand against antisocial behavior and supported a neighbour to escape an abusive relationship.
We applaud Lisa for her bravery and patience in dealing with a difficult situation through to a positive conclusion.
Our Neighbourhood Safety Team can help with antisocial behaviour, hate crime and domestic abuse, and we’re committed to resolving all cases that involve our customers. We’ll investigate incidents sensitively, take appropriate action against offenders and support victims.
For more information on our approach to antisocial behaviour and how you can report it to us, click here.
Lisa, from New Bury, told us: "If you're suffering from antisocial behaviour, report it, please don't suffer in silence. Something can be done."
Great Lever Connected, Stronger community star
The driven volunteers who support and run sessions at the Great Lever Connected Centre have grown it into a community hub that delivers friendly and inclusive activities through the week.
Over the last two years they’ve taken on the running of the community hub with our support. The centre, on Calvert Road, is open four days a week and provides a warm, friendly social space for local residents to get support on a wide range of issues and services. This includes helping local people into employment and training through job club sessions. They’ve also provided course for people to learn English where it’s not their first language.
The centre was awarded a £9,000 lottery grant to provide new activities and community events to support neighbourhood cohesion. And committee members have continued to develop excellent partnerships with the local council, elected members, secondary schools, housing associations and public health service, which they hope to develop over the next year.
Member Wendy Handley, said: "We've got a strong core of volunteers and the centre has become a second home to us in many ways. People are affected by poverty and problems are more complex than ever. We invest time in people to gain their trust, we never judge and we take the time to understand what help they need."
Dawn Bellis, Outstanding achievement star
Dawn has been described as: ‘A true inspiration to many in her community and those she now works with.’ And she was presented with the award because of the true commitment she’s shown to changing her life and the lives of many others.
Dawn has been on a massive personal journey the last five years. Suffering with both depression and anxiety, and with low esteem and little self-confidence, Dawn used to spend her days sleeping and she didn’t want to leave the house. Dawn knew that something needed to change and tried the Wonder Woman Group in Hall i’ th’ Wood. Remembering her very first session, Dawn says she felt welcomed by the group and found herself busy decorating plant pots.
Dawn soon began to look forward to the weekly sessions as they gave her routine and something to focus on, and through the group she developed a variety of skills across a wide range of areas including arts, crafts and sewing. She also gained qualifications through a number of short courses including food safety, first aid, customer service, managing conflict and money skills.
Through being part of the group Dawn became a positive role model in her community. This has included volunteering at community events, organising Macmillan fundraising events and being an advocate to promote and inform local people about services that can help them.
With new found confidence, she enrolled on a health and social care course at college. This spurred her on to wanting to support people who suffer from mental health problems. Dawn felt that she gained so much through her own experience that she wanted to put something back into society and help others.
After volunteering with BAND, Dawn became a Recover Hub Development Worker at the mental health charity. She’s also part of a befriending service in the community and volunteers on a hospital ward for mental health.
Dawn, from Hall i' th Wood, said: "I love what I do. As I was getting stronger, i just thought to myself that if I could help someone else smile then what I went through wasn't for nothing. This drove me to want to work in mental health."
- The Kitchens Garden Group - Sparkling environment star
- Dance Fusion - Healthy environment star
- Natasha Patel - Spirit of youth star
- Lesley Tyrer - Bolton at Home star
- David Lythgoe - Personal achievement star
- Fozia Qureshi - Taking a stand star
- Dramatic Action - Stronger community star
- Dougie Moulton - Outstanding achievement star
- Bolton Wanderers Community Trust
- CEF Bolton
- Creative Pink Ltd
- Effective Training and Development Ltd
- Graham The Plumbers’ Merchant
- J. Dickinson and Sons
- J.G. Redford Ltd
- MCP Environmental
- Metro Cars
- Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester
- Trowers and Hamlins