Our finalists for 2023
Trustee Board of the Year
Back on the Map
Back on the Map’s (BotM) board is made up of 15 trustees across charity and enterprise. Its new 2023-28 strategy and vision of “Making Hendon a place of opportunity to live, work and thrive” is directly influenced by the board, meaning any decisions are in the best interest of both BotM and the wider community. This includes becoming a Living Wage Accredited employer and creating £14,000 of community wealth with the introduction of a Love Sunderland card to boost local businesses. BotM is committed to maximising social and economic outcomes, regularly undertaking audits to identify skills gaps.
Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF)
The Children’s Heart Unit Fund (Chuf) is governed by a board of trustees from various backgrounds, including medics, lawyers, accountants, sales and marketing professionals, and parents to Heart Hero children. Open-minded and willing to take calculated risks, the trustees allow the charity to be innovative in its lifelong support for people and families with heart conditions, even accepting cryptocurrency donations which since have been used to fund pioneering research. The charity continues to grow in income and impact thanks to the expert governance of the trustee board who remain committed to doing the right thing.
The Junction Foundation
The board of trustees at The Junction have been instrumental in the stabilisation and growth of the charity, helping it go from strength to strength in every way. The board have become increasingly involved in volunteering their skills to improve specific aspects of The Junction’s work, such as refreshing HR policy, recruitment training and cyber security advice. In the last 12 months, new members have been inducted onto the board and The Junction’s five-year strategy, accommodation strategy and workplace support have been refreshed to meet current local needs.
Northern Stage is the largest producing theatre in the North East. Its dedicated focus on equality, diversity and inclusion is within everything it does, including creating a board of trustees from a broad spectrum of demographics to reflect the community in a meaningful way. Their lived experience and expertise enable Northern Stage to be a vibrant and sustainable arts organisation. The board has focused on more accessible recruitment, recently recruiting two under-25s on the board itself, and continues to increase diversity in its workforce, audience and creative programmes.
Channon Barlow - Teesside Hospice
Channon Barlow is the head of fundraising at Teesside Hospice, having climbed the ranks due to her outstanding problem-solving skills, entrepreneurial spirit and resourcefulness. Within a single year, Channon increased the charity’s income by 327%, from £29,000 to an astonishing £123,955. Not stopping there, Channon also orchestrated a remarkable increase in participation, with participants rising from 289 to an impressive 1,063, a significant leap of 278%. Channon's extraordinary achievements and unwavering dedication have brought about transformative results for Teesside Hospice, lighting the way for a brighter future for all.
Tracy Dixon - Recovery Connections
Tracy Dixon grew from seeking support for addiction and a pathway into recovery with Recovery Connections gaining a role at the charity and being promoted four times. Tracy undertook the charity’s Ambassador Programme to pursue a career in recovery services, being hired as a community coach, subsequently promoted to a rehab coach and then to manager of Recovery Connections’ Gateshead rehab. Tracy has shown incredible commitment to those she helps, developing the Gateshead services so transformatively that she will now lead a brand new recovery community service and develop another rehab in Darlington.
Mohib Hussain - Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club
Mohib Hussain is the assistant coach of Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club’s First Team. Despite having cerebral palsy which affects one side of his body and has prevented him from being involved in team sports previously, Mohib undertakes the physically and mentally demanding role effortlessly. Only 18 years old, Mohib has an infectiously positive outlook on life, shows a high level of commitment and is a reliable, key member of the club. He has even trained and become certified to be a linesman for the National League.
Abi Walker - Action Foundation
Abi Walker is the business development manager for Action Foundation, a charity supporting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. At 27, she is the youngest person on both the Action Foundation leadership team and Virgin Money’s Foundation Board of Trustees. Abi has raised tens of thousands of pounds of grants which enable the charity’s vital work to continue and played a key role in its strategic plan. She is also part of a mentoring programme which supports diverse groups getting into Board leadership roles.
Outstanding Social Enterprise Award
Active Families North East
Active Families North East tackles the health and social inequalities across the North East with a particular focus on improving the physical and mental well-being of those living in more deprived areas. From dementia tea dances, buggy boot camps and seated exercise classes to kangoo jump courses, school healthy eating initiatives and coffee mornings, the team has empowered an estimated 40,000 people within the region to make healthier lifestyle choices. Plus, it has a Well Bean Machine mobile health and well-being hub which has engaged with 15,000 individuals and is rapidly expanding.
Bridge Creative was set up to support adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults into employment, with a focus on creating jobs in the events, arts and creative industries. It helps more than 200 people across County Durham with wrap-around support, employment opportunities, upskilling and one-to-one support to encourage independence, creativity and social responsibility. Employment figures for adults with learning disabilities in the area have doubled due to Bridge Creative, which itself has also nearly tripled its own employment, making a huge impact on not only individuals but the community.
Just for Women
Just For Women ensures every woman, child and their family, has the support, tools and opportunities they need to live safely, gain financial stability and lead enriched lives. Just For Women Centre is a woman-only, safe haven for young girls, those in long-term unemployment, ex-offenders and those who have mental health issues or have been subjected to abuse/trauma. The award-winning social enterprise provides consistent, person-centred support, advice, training, counselling and bespoke programmes which can help women move closer to employment, financial independence and higher self-worth.
North East Counselling Services
Founded by carers, North East Counselling Services (NECS) was founded to provide health support for carers, the cared for and their families. Working closely with clients to fully explore the ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ of issues affecting their lives, the overarching principle is to help people to help themselves. NECS has established itself as the go-to place for high-quality responsive mental health services, having had a positive impact on over 15,000 sufferers to date and the 45,000 family members whose lives have been changed for the better.
Uniquely North East Award
Beach Access North East
Beach Access North East is a small, local charity providing a free equipment loan service to enable better access to the North East coastline. The charity has manual and powered wheelchairs and walking aids which come in varying sizes, suitable for both adults and children. During 2022, Beach Access North East’s equipment was used more than 570 times, with feedback relaying what a huge difference the joyful trips make. Taking a holistic approach, the charity collaborates with other organisations to increase accessibility and widen participation, such as working with SEND schools and surf schools.
Northern Stage has been part of Newcastle’s cultural community since the 1970s, providing a theatre where people come together, socialise, have fun, work, debate, perform and imagine new possibilities. The theatre creates safe spaces based on tolerance, inclusivity and respect, collaborating with the community to help the region thrive. Northern Stage has produced and co-produced four main shows this year, has received 60 visiting shows from across the UK and internationally and has continued to reduce barriers to engagement in the arts and open up opportunities for improved skills.
Ouseburn Farm Charity Ltd
Ouseburn Farm is a freely accessible community and green space which attracts 32,000 visits per year, offering family-focused events in animal care, farming and growing which help children learn. The farm provides specialist placements for adults with learning disabilities, difficulties and autism via its care farming programme, developing skills around sustainable farming, food production and preparation, as well as increasing confidence and self-esteem. 84 volunteers have completed 8,049 hours of volunteering in the past year, and the farm trialled a successful new animal therapy programme for children adversely affected by the pandemic.
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) manages four museums, three art galleries, two Roman forts and one archive, taking care of 1.1 million objects including collections of art, natural history, science and technology, archaeology, military, social history and fashion. The venues welcomed 700,000 visitors last year and engaged 1,700 local people in community programmes, further promoting the North East’s outstanding art and heritage. TWAM learning teams also deliver an award-winning programme focused on natural history, visual art, science, technology, engineering and maths, and local heritage, inspiring 90,000 children and young people each year.
Outstanding Contribution to Social Change
Building Self-Belief Youth Panel
Building Self-Belief’s main goal is to build stronger communities by increasing self-belief in vulnerable young people across the North East. In 2022, its Youth Panel was created to be the voice of young people in Consett, bringing awareness to the needs of the younger generation. The panel is inspiring other young people to take pride in their community and not engage in anti-social behaviour, with the group developing projects to make the area a better place. In 2023, the panel was awarded a High Sheriff Award for its work.
Open Clasp Theatre Company
Award-winning feminist theatre Open Clasp places theatre at the heart of transforming the lives of women and girls. For 25 years, it has gathered working-class women to ignite activism and co-create theatre on the issues that control and disempower working-class communities. Workshops create safe spaces for women and girls to discuss and debate, highlighting issues and what needs to change. With a network of more than 800 women’s organisations, local and national partners, and grassroots activists in support, Open Clasp is successful in influencing public opinion and policy debates.
Recovery Connections supports people into recovery from addiction to alcohol and substance use, having expanded over the last 15 years to operate across the region. Last year saw more than 1,000 people supported by the charity and the launch of a new people network ‘Building Recovery in Middlesbrough’ dedicated to creating a town-wide approach to addiction, challenging stigma and building a positive frame from recovery. Simultaneously, Recovery Connections rolled out a new programme of free, CPD-accredited Recovery Ally Training and developed a corporate partnership with Teesside’s largest employer, PD Ports.
Samantha's Legacy campaigns tirelessly to prevent and raise awareness of knife crime, inspired by the tragic loss of Samantha Madgin. The volunteers have educated thousands and increased understanding among young people across the region by offering anti-knife crime workshops, resource packs for schools and practitioner awareness sessions. Samantha’s Legacy has also worked with the police with the ‘Pointless Knives’ campaign and received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister. Last year saw Samantha’s Retreat launch for victims to gain some relief following their assault, and the continuation of emotional and financial support.
Young Charity Champion of the Year
Last year, four-year-old Kit Matthews was being kept alive by a Berlin heart machine before successfully being given a new heart after a 21-week stint at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital. A year later, Kit spent the beginning of 2022 taking part in a 21-mile fundraising challenge in aid of the Children's Heart Unit Fund following their support. Kit spent his time walking, cycling, running, swimming and scooting a mile each day for 21 days, raising £2,400. Kit is a catalyst for fundraising and an inspiration for his peers.
Harrison has been a long-standing member of The Junction Heart and has become a key member of the group, contributing to social actions films, debates and developments. From being one of the quietest members, he has challenged himself to present and communicate the needs of others and even hosted The Junction Awards this year. Harrison is fully involved in activities and supporting newer members, as well as getting involved in wider participation and youth voice activity.
Alexander Walker was diagnosed with autism aged two but has since shown himself to be an inspirational individual who can overcome any obstacle. Over the last 12 months, he has demonstrated amazing kindness and commitment by supporting, raising funds and raising awareness to help other young people in need. Alexander completed the Rickshaw Challenge in October of last year, raising life-changing funds for projects throughout the country. He is now a mentor to young people on disability programmes, ensuring everyone feels involved and that new participants are engaged and having fun.
Charity Leader of the Year
Alison Dunn - Citizens Advice Gateshead
Alison Dunn has worked for Citizen’s Advice Gateshead for 18 years, becoming chief executive in 2012 and growing the charity to a £5.8m business which helps hundreds of thousands of people each year. Responding to the needs of people in the North East, her ingenuity, values-driven leadership and passion for helping others have transformed lives. A ‘social justice advocate’, Alison also works with Gateshead Council, VONNE and Society Matters leading and advising across the charitable and public sectors.
Bev Reid - Dementia Matters
Bev Reid has undertaken various roles within the healthcare sector, recently becoming the CEO of Dementia Matters to provide residential, respite, day and home care for those with dementia, as well as their carers, family and friends. Bev has brought the charity back from the brink of closure, allowing its brilliant services to continue and changing the ethos of the charity to offer more family-centred care to help more local people. This also includes an innovative ‘whole person’ concept which sees care pathways developed for long-term care.
Juliet Sanders - Feeding Families
Juliet Sanders started Feeding Families in 2016 as a personal project, providing festive hampers to a small number of families in desperate need. In the last year, the charity has grown by 102%, with Feeding Families organising hampers for more than 11,000 families affected by food poverty over the festive period. The charity is filling the gaps in provisions, alleviating the pressure for those struggling. Juliet passionately believes no child should go hungry and regularly goes out of her way to support as many people as possible.
Neeraj Sharma - Daisy Chain
Neeraj Sharma is an exceptional and inspirational leader whose remarkable dedication and passion for the third sector have led to some remarkable achievements. He has selflessly devoted his working career to fighting for some of the most marginalised individuals within the North East. As CEO of Daisy Chain, Neeraj is empowering individuals for leadership positions and is a role model as an advocate for inclusion and representation within the workplace. He has grown the small local charity to now support more than 5,000 people annually, transforming its impact.
Corporate Charity Partnership
Capita delivers a range of technical services to local authorities to improve efficiency, raise service quality, reduce costs and deliver benefits to the local community. Since 2018, Capita has supported a wide range of activities and services for Meadow Well Connected. This includes providing expertise to manage a large capital project, volunteering, extensive support during the pandemic and brokering relations with businesses to attract other types of support. In the past year, the company has provided more than 216 hours of volunteer time, donated 25 high-specification laptops, and provided festive food and fun.
Chartered accountants and business advisory firm Haines Watts works with more than 100 charities across the North East. For its 2022 annual charity partnership, Haines Watts worked with Streetwise Young People’s Project to raise awareness and funds. The company raised more than £10,000 for the charity through various fundraising initiatives such as silent auctions, festive buffets and running and climbing expeditions, and promoted even more fundraising for the charity. Team members also shared their advice and expertise with young people to improve their skills and prospects for the future.
Hellens Group, a North East-based property and construction firm, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by raising money for The Percy Hedley Foundation. With the family who run the company having directly benefited from the charity themselves, the company has developed a strong relationship with the foundation over the years. By raising money through a series of events, including a ladies’ lunch, golf day, a garden party, a team of runners taking part in the Great North Run and by securing donations from other companies such as Barratt Homes, Hellens smashed its target and raised £64,415.
J T Dove Ltd
Building merchant J T Dove has been raising funds for Chuf’s Scott House parent accommodation since 2015 as part of the ‘Chuf ‘n’ Builders’ challenge, raising more than £200,000 in total. £23,000 of this was raised in 2022 through a range of fundraising activities by individuals and the company as a whole, with fundraising integrated into its business plans and calendars. JT Dove also fundraises for Heart Heroes, having contributed to life-saving equipment and services for the Freeman Hospital and clinics across the region.
Charity Champion of the Year
Paige Jones has turned grief into goodwill, pledging to support the Children’s Heart Unit Fund following the tragic loss of her cousin who was only two-and-a-half years old. Paige has been involved in many volunteering activities, even dedicating 2021 to a full year of fundraising activities to reach a target of £21,000. So far, Paige has raised more than £25,000 to fund vital equipment which with enable medical advancement in the region. Not stopping there, Paige intends to undertake the Three Peaks Challenge and further support the charity.
Connor Rumney has spinal muscular atrophy, a severe physical disability that affects all his muscles, including his swallowing and breathing. Connor, however, is making a huge impact as a Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club and UEFA B coach. A role model for many, Connor shows that it is possible to still be independent and that hard work and dedication mean that anyone can achieve their goals. Coaching the club's reserves and first team, he has brought an array of new knowledge and plenty of drive which inspires both players and coaches alike.
Libby Selman is a retired teacher who, for the last 15 years, has given up her time to help hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers to learn English and integrate into their new lives in the North East. She volunteers with Action Foundation and goes above and beyond to support her learners with the additional opportunities that come their way, even welcoming five refugees into her own home. Libby has transformed thousands of lives with her teaching and support and allowed refugees to have a voice and a future.
Bill Wilson has volunteered to care for others since he was 10 years old, most recently caring for his wife, Jo. Bill has been volunteering tirelessly since 2020 to improve the lives of carers, establishing an ethos of family-centred care with Dementia Matters and raising awareness of the illness by participating in research projects, appearing on TV and radio and challenging negative views about dementia. An active member of various charities and organisations, he has used his strategic skills to develop services and his caregiver experience to support others with his empathy and knowledge.
Small Charity of the Year
Durham Area Youth
Durham Area Youth was founded due to the withdrawal of Government funding for youth provision in rural villages in 2018. The charity provides community outreach projects, well-being activities, youth forums, education support and more long-term engagement to those needing it the most. During the pandemic, the charity supported more than 450 young people with 1,000 hours of online delivery, and since January, 125 new young people have joined Durham Area Youth to access its help. The charity continues to grow, embedding new leadership and values to further its work.
Love, Amelia is a children's charity offering practical support to babies, children, and their caregivers. Founded in 2018, the charity has made a significant impact, supporting over 9,500 children and families facing various hardships and challenges. In the past 12 months alone, Love, Amelia has supported 4,493 individuals who would otherwise be without, ensuring they have access to essential items. Through its core initiatives and projects, it has distributed over £513,000 worth of new and pre-loved items to those in need so that every child can have an equal start in life.
North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T)
North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T) supports refugees and asylum seekers through education and social integration initiatives. Since 2016, N.E.S.T has grown to support around 400 to 700 refugees annually. Over the last 12 months, it has developed its own tailored curriculum and language resources which assist future employment and further education, as well as assisting children through the. N.E.S.T Schools’ Programme and kids clubs. Last year, its founder Bridget Stratford was awarded an MBE at 25 years old for her services.
Rubies is an award-winning grassroots charity which provides trauma-informed support for girls living in some of the most deprived areas in the North East, namely Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland. Working in primary and secondary schools, Rubies’ support is offered through innovative courses, workshops and confidence-building activities that help girls increase self-esteem and build resilience. Over the last 12 months, more than 300 girls have engaged with Rubies and it has launched three GLOW youth groups to offer safe spaces for vulnerable teens to meet, get support and try new activities.
North East Charity of the Year
Celebrating its 20th year, Daisy Chain’s mission is to support and empower autistic and neurodivergent individuals through the provision of holistic person-centred services. The charity supports more than 5,000 neurodivergent individuals and families through employment opportunities, social clubs, respite care, complex care support, school-based placement programmes, independent living support, support groups, counselling and more. Daisy Chain also works with education and healthcare providers to promote training, well-being, inclusion and acceptance regionally and nationwide. This year it opened its largest charity megastore, creating more than 20 jobs for autistic people.
The Halo Project
The Halo Project was established in 2011 in response to a gap in service provision for Black and minoritised women and girls. The charity has supported more than 3,000 women from over 49 different ethnicities who are experiencing or at risk of domestic and sexual abuse and violence. The Halo Project helps women move from a situation of untenable violence to a life free from abuse and empowers them to live independent and fulfilled lives. It is also invested in educating to eradicate long-term cultural-based abuse and violence, providing training to thousands of professionals.
Hospitality and Hope
Hospitality and Hope is a South Tyneside charity focused on food insecurity, homelessness and community well-being which has been working within the disadvantaged community for more than 20 years. Last year, Hospitality and Hope supported 7,500 individuals through its food bank, recovered £500,000 in benefit payments and written-off debt, and distributed £27,000 for fuel support. The charity’s first Your Community Shop launched in 2022, saving a total of nearly £33,000 for its members. Hospitality and Hope also provides supported living accommodation which transforms lives through additional training and skill-development.
Recovery Connections supports people into recovery from addiction to alcohol and substance use, having expanded over the last 15 years to operate across the region. More than 1,000 people have been supported by the charity in only the past year, with Recovery Connections providing personal support as well as help to get back to work. Uniquely, 90% of the staff identify as in recovery themselves, breaking down stigmatised barriers and demonstrating success. In addition, the charity is also creating a multitude of innovative ways to promote recovery across various sectors and workplaces.