14 March 2012 You are here:

Stars of Social Services 2012

Dedication’s what you need!

A woman who is ‘mum’ to South London’s gang members and a homeless man who is turning his life around are among many honoured at The Salvation Army's annual social services awards for giving their all to help others get their life back.

Major Ray Irving, Territorial Social Services Secretary said: “The Salvation Army is made up of dedicated staff and volunteers who give up their time - and more - to help the homeless, older people and those in need get their life back.

 “We have a long history of offering practical support to people who are vulnerable or in need and are committed to delivering the best service possible to our clients.

“We couldn’t do it without the passion and skills of our employees and volunteers. Those who have been given awards are great examples to us all – they show us what can be achieved by passion, dedication and creativity.”

The awards are split into four categories - homelessness services, community services, older people’s services and services to people with learning disabilities. They are judged by independent panels, with hundreds of Salvation Army social centres and community churches along with thousands of staff in the UK and Republic of Ireland eligible for nomination by employees, service users, residents and local community groups.

This year’s winners come from all over the UK and have amazing stories to tell. For a full list of winners follow this link.

Helen Wilson has been the project manager of the Springfield Lifeline in South London for the past 18 months. Springfield Lifeline is a project which offers ongoing practical and emotional support to young homeless people within the Camberwell and Peckham area. Many are caught up with the South London gang culture.

Helen has earned the love and respect of all the young people she works with as they joined together to nominate her for the Relationship Builder Award in the Homelessness Services Category. They said: “Helen always smiles when she sees us – although she does tell us off, none of us want to disappoint her.” “She always sees the good in us.” “She makes us feel proud when we do good – she’s like a mum should be.”

In the same category, Anthony O’Neill picked up the Keith Lloyd Individual Contribution Award (nominated by colleagues for a person's overall contribution to the life of their centre). Tony first came to the Calder Fountain centre in Belfast in 2010 needing help. He has recently moved into a flat of his own and now volunteers at the centre. He has worked hard to become a qualified Fitness Instructor and has almost completed an NVQ in Horticulture.

He has overcome initial apprehension from the local community about having homelessness people working in their area and has transformed their impression of homelessness people. He has also encouraged other homeless people within the centre to attend the local gym and secured funding from the Health Promotion Agency for gym membership for the next 10 months.

Tony demonstrates that with the right attitude and support, homelessness can be transformed from a crisis into an opportunity.

Fran Brown from Nottingham Aspley Church ‘Corps’ picked up the Individual Contribution Award in the Community Services category.

Fran has been employed at the church’s Breakfast and After School Club for seven years and has been supervisor for the past four years. She has turned the club around – the waiting list is now kept on three sides of A4. The club has also been highlighted as one of the best ‘out of school’ provisions in the city.

Many evenings Fran is to be found in a deep conversation, with a parent or carer, regarding a child or other personal issue. All the families respect and trust Fran and will often off load many burdens, have a cry on her shoulder or use her as a listening ear.

In the Community Services Category, Furze Hill House’s End of Life Care Programme in North Walsham picked up the Programme of the Year Award. The vision for Furze Hill House is for every resident to retain personal dignity, autonomy and choice as they receive care towards the end of their life. Staff at the home are completing a national training programme and have found a new way of working to improve the quality of care, which enables them to work with a wider range of other professionals and agencies. The programme also works with families and carers to produce a ‘preferred priority of care document’ which ensures that residents can request what they want towards the end of their lives. Requests are varied and include music of the Cold Stream Guards to be played.

Farideh Yasbolaghi from the Ipswich Priory Centre was given the Individual Contribution Award in the Learning Disabilities category. Farideh first attended the Ipswich Priory Centre English classes as she came from Iran. As soon as she finished the course she offered to become a volunteer working with people with learning and physical disabilities as she herself has a disabled daughter. She was instrumental in setting up a tea time drop in club for people with learning disabilities and their carers as she identified that there was a gap need for this in the area.  Ferideh welcomes everyone who attends and cooks a variety of meals for over 20 people each week.