Community Spirit Awards, back with a bang……

The Awards which are organised by the Community Foundation for Calderdale attracted over 90 nominations and a record-breaking audience of 389 to the Venue at Barkistland.

The Awards celebrate the often unsung heroes who work in our community, often in extremely challenging situations. From large charities to individuals who give of their time and energy the awards highlight the people at the centre of the brilliant work being done here in Calderdale.

Each of the 14 Award winners were presented with a bespoke award crafted by local artist Rudi Holmes, of Calder Forge.

The awards were made possible thanks to the generous support of our Main SponsorsTake a look at the award winners here:

Best use of Technology Award 

The judges were looking for a charity which has demonstrated an innovative and effective use of technology in any area of its operations in. Examples could include the innovative use of a website, mobile technology, social media and other forms of technology.

The nominees were:

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Category Winners: Inspire Independence project, Scope Calderdale. 

Interview with the winner:

About the winners: The project was initiated to be able to empower and enable people with disabilities to have more choice and control and enable them to have greater independence within their lives and the communities and homes they live and are active citizens in.
The project provides Assistive Technology, this ranges from low-tech inputs such as an adapted keyboard, or alternative screen displays up to specialist communication devices which can be communication devices controlled by the individual using a switch to activate the screen, or them having no ability to move their limbs so they can use their eyes to control the screen with EyeGaze.
What the judges said: The panel felt that this charity had really understood what the ‘best use of technology’ category was about. Their development and use of assistive technology is clearly making a massive difference to their service users in Calderdale and beyond and enabling many people with disabilities to live independent, fulfilling lives.


Great and Green Award 

The judges were looking for an individual, school or charity which is having a positive impact on the community and was raising the profile of environmental issues.

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Catagory Winners: Slow the Flow Calderdale 

Interview with the winner:

About the winners: Slow The Flow Calderdale was set up to look scientifically at the issue of why and how the Calder Valley floods and to look at natural flood prevention measures and solutions to slow the volume of water which comes down the hillsides into the River Calder. They are a group of dedicated engineers, scientists, landscape experts, and those working in land management. They are working with Government, The Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, The National Trust, Treesponsibility, The Source Partnership, The Calder & Colne Rivers Trust, Pennine Prospects, Calder Futures and the Flood Wardens along the Calder Valley to seek a solution to this continuing and growing problem.

What the judges said: The panel felt that the winning nomination in the great and green category should go to a relatively new organisation made up of expert volunteers. The judges were particularly impressed with the Leaky Woody Dams project at Hardcastle Crags with The National Trust. As well as the dedication shown by the group and progress made since the Boxing Day floods in 2015.


Best Fundraising Campaign

This award will go to a campaigning team of a charity on the basis of innovative approaches coupled with exceeding funding targets during.

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Winners: Square Chapel Arts Centre

Interview with the winners

About the winners: Square Chapel has just completed a £6.6m capital project providing a second auditorium and cinema, new box office, foyer and café-bar and greatly improved access and facilities for its thriving artistic programme of high quality live performance and film, alongside its incredibly successful education and community outreach programme.

What the judges said: The panel were unanimous in choosing the charity that was established 29 years ago, by volunteers who bought a building and fundraised tirelessly to renovate the building to create space for the enjoyment and enrichment of the local community. What the charity has achieved through their most recent fundraising campaign is simply astonishing!  £6.6m raised is an amazing achievement.

Breakthrough of the Year

 Awarded to a charity for successfully developing something new or different. Areas could include supporter and/or donor engagement, putting a piece of research to good use, extending the reach of the charity or introducing a new way of working.

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Commendation awarded to: Visits Unlimited. The panel felt that a nominee in this category deserved a special commendation. This project has received national recognition from Visit England and England’s Inclusive Tourism Action Group but the projects main benefit will be to local residents in Hebden Bridge and Calderdale and will make a long-lasting difference to disabled people

 Winners: Next Step Trust

Interview with the winners

About the winners: In May 2017, the winner of the Breakthrough of the Year category expanded their provision by opening a respite house in the Halifax area. They currently provide day care provision for young adults with profound and multiple disabilities.

What the Judges said:  The respite house is an extension of this service and gives the opportunity for overnight stays and short breaks for those who wish to spend some time away from home. The panel were impressed by the courage and vision of this charity with this innovative development enabling them to expand their provision and meet the growing needs of both the individuals they support and their families, as they become older.


Best Marketing Campaign

Awarded to the best marketing campaign, which included one or more of the following elements: direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, branding, anniversary marketing, loyalty schemes, visual marketing and use of brand ambassadors, or social media.

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The winners: Get Trevor Mobile Appeal (Tim Foulds)


About the winner: Trevor set up the voluntary group Calder Valley Clean Up and has worked tirelessly since Boxing day to help the Calder Valley and most importantly those who were vulnerable or unable to undertake clean up work in their homes after the flood.

Unfortunately, Trevor lost his vehicle in the Boxing Day floods and wasn’t able to replace it, he was cycling up to 7 miles to undertake his daily volunteer work.

Friend and colleague Tim Foulds took on the challenge with zero marketing budget, to fundraise to replace the community group van, enabling the group and Trevor to take on more work and help more people.

He went on to raise Thousands of Pounds and supply the group with a new van.

Tim used social media and TV news channels to get the message out and gain support using the hashtag Get Trevor Mobile.

 What the judges said: The panel were impressed by this campaign’s use of social media, crowdfunding and digital fundraising and coverage on BBC Look North.


Arts and Culture Award

Awarded to a charity active in the arts (visual arts-music-film-photography-writing-drama- dance-design) which has demonstrated passion and enthusiasm in making a significant contribution to the wider community.

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Commendation awarded to Verd De GrisThe breadth of the nominations in this category was wide from large well-established charities to smaller charities with specific target audiences. The panel would like to make a special commendation to one of the smaller charities who employ ‘socially engaged art’ to bring diverse groups together – old and young, isolated and marginalised groups, people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds Their programme of activity sets out to empower people and help them find their voice.

Winner: Elland Silver Youth Band

About the winner: Eland Silver Youth Band was formed in 1995 as a way of sustaining Elland Silver Band and the wider Brass Band Movement as a whole and offering an opportunity for young people to learn a new skill, encourage team building and to aid academic learning. Since its formation in around 600 young people has passed through the organisation. Some have gone onto higher musical education some into Championship bands such as Black Dyke and the World-Famous Brighouse & Rastrick. Some have also moved in the Elland Silver Band who in 2017 became a championship band.

What the judges said: The panel chose this award-winning organisation because of the passion that jumped out of the page when reading their nomination and the obvious importance/investment they make in young people. This is a group that has been around for over 20 years and have supported over 600 young people in that time.


 Social Care, Advice and Support Award

Awarded to a charity demonstrating dedication and professionalism in providing care and support to the most vulnerable people in our community; in tackling issues, such as loneliness, dementia support, social isolation, helping to change attitudes and promote the needs of vulnerable people locally.

The panel were overwhelmed by the number of quality varied nominations in this category and struggled to find an outright winner between 2 organisations.

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Winners: Basement Recovery Project and Dementia Friendly Todmorden

What the judges said: Basement Recovery is a well-established organisation that speaks up for those who don’t feel they have a voice or a place in society, who feel worthless, insecure, depressed and sometimes suicidal. They provide the best service and truly deserve the recognition.

Dementia Friendly Todmorden is an organisation dealing with a specific health issue with a geographic focus and run by volunteers on a shoestring budget.

The ability of a group of volunteers to put together, Police and Fire Service to work in partnership to help those affected by Dementia and give pivotal help and support to families and carers of those caring for people with Dementia has been remarkable.


Governance Award

Awarded to a board of trustees (or management committee) that has championed the charity and has identified and responded to an opportunity for the benefit of the community that the charity exists to serve. Examples could include new ways of working, whether alone or in partnership, and new fundraising or financial models.

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Winners Age UK Calderdale

What the Judges said: Good Governance is about an organisation’s systems and processes being robust – complying with laws and regulations, ensuring the organisation is well run and efficient, any problems identified early and appropriately and the organisation’s reputation is preserved… In choosing the winner the panel felt that only 1 organisation demonstrated these attributes in their nomination.


Corporate and Community Partnership

Awarded to a commercial company and a local charity that has had a demonstrably positive impact on the local community.

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Commendation: Next Step Trust and Wilkinson Woodward. The panel felt this partnership deserved a special commendation because the company in question truly employed CSR principles in their support for the charity. Support with property and legal matters, Governance, fundraising and a considerable amount of in kind. 

Winner: Eureka Nursery, Dean Clough Foundation and Trinity Fold Care Home

About the winners: The Intergenerational Textile Project was a collaboration between a private limited company Eureka! Nursery, an educational charity and a care home. The Dean Clough Foundation, Eureka! Nursery and Trinity Fold Care Home brought together young children and older people to share ideas, learn new skills, make friends and have fun together.

Working with a textile artist, participants explored silk painting, weaving, 3D textiles, mark-making, printing and felt-making over seven workshops spanning four months. Activities ranged from collectively mapping shared experiences, drawn on huge lengths of fabric, to one-to-one tasks that encouraged a child and an adult to support one another.

With the ambition to inspire learning and benefit wellbeing across generations, all partners wanted the project to explore which activities and approaches would benefit participants the most.

What the judges said: This nomination stood out because it demonstrated just how much can be achieved with the in-kind support and very little funding – incredible value for money! This intergenerational textile project enabled young children and older people to share ideas, learn new skills, make friends and have fun together.


Young Community Champion

Awarded to a young person 21 years old or under, who have engaged, inspired and motivated their peers or other people in support of a social cause or initiative.

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Winners: Saskia Uttley & Jake Moorman

About Saskia: over the past 7 years Saskia has raised thousands for local charities, Saskia is an integral part of the committee that runs and organises RamFest raising charitable funds, because of her enthusiasm she was invited to be the vice-Chair of the committee, which she has grabbed with both hands.

Following her trip to Poland via the Erasmus programme she is busy planning events to raise money so the orphaned children she met, can visit the and she herself has offered her family home (with parent’s support) for one of the children to stay with them. She also the captain for her school’s fundraising team.

About Jake: His story began in February 2014, when he began to be sick on a family holiday to Lanzarote. Putting it down to food, the family came home and life continued as normal until Easter came around, when Jake began to suffer severe bouts of vomiting and debilitating headaches.  As a keen skateboarder, he also noticed there was something wrong with his balance. After trips to the GP where tests could not reveal what was wrong, Jake, who is currently on a gap year before going to university, was sent for an MRI scan.  They had found a 2cm brain haemorrhage.

Jake underwent the seven-hour operation, Jake said he felt hopeful that his ordeal was over. But it was while he was on holiday in Cromer, Norfolk, in summer 2015 that he received another blow. The Tumour was still there

After another operation, and just one day before his 18th birthday, the results of a scan following the surgery came back clear.

Jakes way of giving back: The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a historic pilgrimage which leads to a shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in Galicia.

Jake spent 30 days in Spain and to complete the route he walked 20 miles per day in aid of Brain Tumour Research & Support. He raised over £15,000.

What the Judges said: This was one of the easier decisions for the panel to make because 2 nominations shone above the others. Both very special young people and both deserving of the Award.


Volunteer of The Year

Awarded to the volunteer who has displayed the greatest commitment and achievement to a charity, voluntary sector organisation or the community.


Winner: Dan King

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About the winner: Daniel learnt first-hand how important our local hospice was to those in need of additional care and made it his mission to give back what he could for Overgate hospice.

Now, those who know Daniel personally (family, friends, work colleagues) will know that when he sets his sights on something – he aims high and achieves results which blow you out of the water!

The event he organised this year, 22 July, was exactly that – The Tri4Overgate Team was born! Daniel had a vision of competing in a Triathlon having had a taster the previous year but not just any triathlon – it was the AJ Bell London Triathlon.

He wanted to encourage as many of his friends to join him in competing and raising as much money as they could for such a worthwhile local hospice as Overgate. His passion was clear from the onset – engaging with the Charity team at Overgate and building a team of over 25 individuals from Halifax to compete in this event.

Just giving pages were set up, additional fundraising ideas were born and training sessions were in the calendars! Before he knew it was a week before the Triathlon and the team has raised an astonishing £20K!

What the judges said: This was another hard-fought category but with 5 nominations for this individual clearly detailing this person’s passion for making a difference – raising a lot of money for good causes and encouraging others to do likewise…


Outstanding Achievement Award

Awarded to a person who has demonstrated dedication, professionalism and integrity throughout their career, and who has produced a demonstrably positive effect on the sector through their work and management.

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The winner: The Founder of St Augustine’s Centre, Denise Keenan

About Denise

When the Community Spirit Awards were announced, one name was echoed around St. Augustine’s Centre, Park Ward and from volunteers living across Calderdale. Denise Keenan, founder and Centre Champion of St. Augustine’s Centre should be considered for the Outstanding Achievement Award to give local recognition to a woman who has dedicated her life to helping the most vulnerable in our community.

She never closes the door to anybody. We are the first and last port of call for the most vulnerable people in our society and that approach and legacy is thanks to Denise’s deep generosity and a fierce sense of social justice.

The children who once attended our nursery have grown up and now bring their own children. They remember Denise fondly and never miss an opportunity to say hello and give her their best wishes.

The number of people she has helped over the years is unbelievable. Amazingly she remembers and is still in touch with many of them, receiving cards and letters from all over the country from people who put their successes down to the welcome and support Denise and St. Augustine’s Centre showed them at a critical time in their lives.

She has walked alongside people during the most difficult time in their lives, ‘doing life’ with them whilst problem-solving, learning and researching how to best tackle issues. She has taken people into her home and family, accompanied asylum seekers to court hearings, coached refugees into employment, and simply loved them.

She is known as ‘Mamma Denise’, which is indicative of how people feel about her.

The current staff team have learned a huge amount from her, from watching her interact with people to how she continues to put the values and DNA of St. Augustine’s at the heart of what she does. She puts a smile on everyone’s faces and is full of grace.

In 2002 when the national policy on accommodating asylum seekers changed and a no-choice dispersal policy was adopted; asylum seekers began being accommodated in Halifax. Under Denise’s influence, St. Augustine’s Centre was the first charitable organisation to respond to their needs, ensure they were welcomed into the community and adjusting the centre’s services to meet this new populations needs. We believe the most outstanding thing about Denise’s vision and life’s work dedicated to achieving it is the progressiveness and forward thinking radical innovative nature of her approach.

Buzzwords like ‘co-designed’ ‘co-produced’, ‘person-centred’ and ‘needs-led’ change and manifest in different forms. Theories and approaches to community development and social change go in and out of fashion. Denise has been pioneering this type of work for decades and over the years has received many accolades including an MBE for her services.

In a small pocket of Yorkshire, St. Augustine’s Centre has become renowned for quietly developing best practice, anti-oppressive approaches to working with refugees and asylum seekers and delivering services in collaboration with users. This is all credit to Denise’s vision and values.

St. Augustine’s Centre wouldn’t exist without her.

St. Augustine’s became known as an open-access community centre, under the principles of community, sanctuary, nurture and respect – values that are the DNA of the organisation.

What the Judges: The panel found this category the most difficult to arrive at a winner. The shortlist is like a who’s who of the voluntary sector. In arriving at a decision, the panel chose a person who has dedicated their life to helping the most vulnerable. As Founder of a well-respected charity in our community this person is generous, a great listener with a fierce sense of social justice. The number of people Denise has helped is unquantifiable and without question a well-deserved winner…


Best New Charity

Awarded to a charity/charitable group that has made a demonstrable impact since its foundation, achieved awareness of its cause, mission and activities, and set the foundations of excellent management and accountability for the future.

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Winner: Grow Big

About the winner: Grow Big was set up by a small group of parents to provide sensory play opportunities for disadvantaged children in the Calderdale area. Its leading SENSE initiative brings an extensive range of sensory play activity to selected groups of children in an inflatable pod. As an outreach project, it moves round targeted local children’s centres (six to date) as well as St Augustine’s nursery.

Activities are child-led and introduce children through stimulating materials and expert support to settings and mini-worlds as varied as woodland, seaside, outer space and winter wonderland. Treasure baskets are also used. Since September 2015, a total of 168 local children aged 3 or 4 years old have benefitted from programmes of weekly sessions in the SENSE pod, each lasting between 6 and 12 weeks.

The key issue is poverty. Children from disadvantaged families are known to be much less likely to be ‘school ready’ at age 5. Their progress through education to employment is hampered by this slow start. The parents who set up Grow Big were concerned to address this issue in a very focused way.

 What the judges said: Taking the seed of an idea and developing it to the point of applying for charitable status is no mean feat. The clarity of the nomination for this organisation impressed the judges, clearly outlining the need for their service. Initially led by a group of parent volunteers before accessing a modest amount of funding.

The panel admired how the group have taken a measured approach in developing and implementing an initial Pilot Delivery Plan and using the evaluation to shape their future plans, and importantly providing excellent value for money.


Charity of the Year

Awarded to a charity that has delivered outstanding service to its beneficiaries, promoted and raised its cause, been clear in its goals and strategy, and demonstrated excellence, especially within the last year.

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Winners: St Augustine’s Centre

About the winner: St. Augustine’s Centre are the primary support service for asylum seekers and refugees in Calderdale, and one of the largest providers in West Yorkshire. It was clear that they would need to lead the way.

Their response was rapid. Within days of the image of Aylan al Kurdi’s body on a beach being published, St. Augustine’s Centre had launched their #helpinghalifax campaign, citing 5 ways to respond to the growing crisis. They lobbied Cllr Tim Swift to make a statement on behalf of Calderdale Council about their plans to resettle Syrian refugees, made links and signposted to international aid agencies to ensure donations were being given to the most appropriate agencies, took up offers of help, but most importantly for Calderdale took stock of their own services to build capacity for the projected numbers of newly dispersed asylum seekers to the borough.

The team already knew there would be an increase in demand for services both at the Centre and within statutory services. The Centre Leader continued to work with CMBC, raising issues and concerns at a number of steering/strategy groups including Welfare Reform, Homelessness, Modern Day Slavery, Migration Group. She also worked with the Public Health team to produce a Health Needs Assessment for asylum seekers & refugees.

The Support Team Leader took the lead in honing services and training volunteers to be able to work alongside increased numbers. The team was slightly restructured, and working practices reviewed. Resources and ‘how to’ guides were created for the frontline team of staff and volunteers, and partnerships both forged and strengthened with other VCS organisations.

Importantly, they contributed to a national report by the Refugee Council, which highlights ‘a massive hidden problem of homelessness amongst newly recognized refugees’

Throughout 2016 services were honed to allow for more capacity, more volunteers were recruited and trained, to enable them to continue to support the most vulnerable in our society.

By using the Community Foundation’s Vital Signs research, internal information, predictions from national & international agencies as data for funding bids, more money was raised for the Welcome Café and Destitution Funds in particular – services that have a direct, immediate benefit on centre users. For example, in 2015 an average of 585 meals a month were given away, which rose to 900 in 2016 (53% increase). Destitution payments rose from £192 a month to £498 month (159% increase).

Of note, the number of volunteer hours given to the Centre grew significantly. The volunteer team expanded from around 80 volunteers to 171, giving close to 10,200 hours in 2016.

This all came together to ensure the Centre was able to support hundreds of people from over 50 countries in 2016, and continue their vital work.

Migration Yorkshire report that between June 2015 and June 2017 there was a 90% increase in support asylum seekers living in G4S accommodation in Calderdale, and the borough saw the highest increase in dispersals across the whole of Yorkshire & the Humber.

For all the statistics, St. Augustine’s Centre changes lives. One Centre User said recently of his life in his home country ‘I am not allowed to speak my language when I am studying, and I feel oppressed. You are not safe, they send you to prison if you want to speak about politics. It is a problem if they arrest me, they kill me no question. 6 months I am too scared to speak to my mum” and then of St. Augustine’s Centre ‘It does everything for me. My heart is happy’. Another said of a recent trip to the seaside ‘feeling happiness and joy, we as a family….we are delighted this very human social and cultural assistance. I don’t find any place like this’ (sic).

They are a home, a community, a sanctuary and a lifeline.

What the judges said: St Augustine’s Centre responded quickly to the growing demands on their service. They have lobbied and fundraised effectively, they have streamlined aspects of their service to improve capacity in key areas and they have recruited and trained additional volunteers to manage the increased demand. This has been an exceptional, unprecedented year for this outstanding charity…