17 Feb 2017

The work of Wales’s most admired and effective charities, voluntary and community organisations voluntary organisations has been recognised at the annual awards run by WCVA.

TSAC 2016 results OG

WCVA Chief Executive Ruth Marks said: 'I am very pleased to be part of a community of people and organisations that show such excellence and committment to working for others and improving the life of the people of Wales.

'All the nominated organisations make us proud of our third sector in Wales. I am really  grateful for the continued support from Class Networks.  This year we have a new category to reward organisations that promote digital skills and digital inclusion. We are very pleased to welcome Digital Communities Wales as supporters of this new category.'

Jonathan Levy, Chief Operating Officer with Class Networks said: 'Class Networks is very proud to be supporting the Third Sector Awards Cymru for the ninth consecutive year.  Each year, we're inspired by the work of all the nominated organisations.  This year was no exception.

I'm particularly pleased to see the inclusion of  an award for digital inclusion. From our own experience within the voluntary sector, charities need support as they start to appreciate the benefits to be gained, and as a member of the judging panel, I was delighted to see so many excellent entries during this first year.'

Matthew Lloyd, Senior Coordinator for Digital Communities Wales and judge for the Digital Inclusion Award, said:  'Digital Communities Wales are delighted to support the new Digital Inclusion Award this year.  We received over 25 excellent entries from across Wales with an impressive variety of digital inclusion engagement projects.  The judges found it impossible to split the winners, with both RNIB Cymru's Online Today project and CAIS's Change Step project both making a huge impact within people's homes and communities across the country. 

'Both projects stood out in terms of their reach, sustainability and innovative delivery models, while Aneurin Bevan Leisure Trust are to be commended for their very popular digital inclusion services delivered across Blaenau Gwent.  We would like to thank and congratulate all entrants that are helping to make a positive difference to the lives of people in Wales through their digital inclusion work and encourage anyone inspired by their efforts to get in touch with Digital Communities Wales.'

The winners and shortlisted groups in each category were:

 

The Class award for best communications - for groups with effective or innovative ways of communicating their message to service users and volunteers.

 WINNER - University of South Wales Students' Union

The creation of a communications team resulted in the University of South Wales seeing the biggest increase in engagement in the students' union sector in the country.

Following a merger between the former Universities of Glamorgan and Wales, Newport, the union had neither a dedicated communications team nor effective, strategic way of communicating with its members.  Promotions of campaigns and activities were sporadic, last minute and without clear messages or consistent branding.

The Trustee Board decided to fund two graduate internships to increase engagement with members and help make the union an integral part of their university experience again. 

Rebranding reception areas as information points and employing students as information team members immediately resulted in an increase in face-to-face queries from students. 

A revamp of the website and targeted use of social media led to 1,500 extra likes on Facebook, with the average reach of a post tripling from 1,200 to 3,600 people. 

Videos were found to be the most effective engagement mechanism, with one promoting the University's World Mental Health Day campaign reaching over 24,000 people.

'This has transformed our campaigning capacity, provided us with a secure evidence base for our campaigning outcomes and enabled us to negotiate more effectively on behalf of our membership,' said Chief Executive Officer Sian Taylor.

The number of votes cast in the annual student officer elections increased by 99% from the previous year - the biggest rise in engagement in the sector in Wales.

RUNNER-UP  - NewLink Wales

People recovering from substance misuse have been able to 'redefine' themselves as the result of an imaginative campaign run by NewLink Wales to challenge stigma and provoke discussion.

Heroine Day, the Cardiff-based charity's most ambitious communications and fundraising project in its17-year history, was devised to celebrate the heroic effort of recovery from drug and alcohol use - rather than it being something most people avoided talking about. 

NewLink asked people to dress up as superheroes and donate £1, the key message being that since most people could not even give up chocolate, we should acknowledge what it takes to give up harder substances. 

Backed up with an extensive social media campaign and a Thunderclap, Heroine Day reached over 107,000 people on social media and hundreds through direct contact, with pub collection buckets helping raise over £10,000 in donations and services in kind.

'The benefits of the campaign have been far reaching for us,' said NewLink Wales Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Cordery-Bruce.  'From this campaign, our service users have been able to talk about their recovery journey with pride instead of shame.  They have redefined themselves as heroes, holding their heads up high and saying "look what I did"!' 

RUNNER-UP  - YMCA Swansea

Harnessing the power of Twitter has 'revolutionised' the way YMCA Swansea interacts with and supplies business information to both internal and external stakeholders.

Social Media has become a critical business tool for the small team of staff, allowing it to communicate with the outside world.  Members were 'early adopters' of Twitter, realising they could be having direct conversations day and night with 'key strategic individuals'.

Chief Executive Officer Anne-Marie Rogan said: 'Twitter has enabled us to demonstrate the depth and breadth of our day-to-day work in real-time. It offers a transparent portal into our organisation, inviting dialogue and opportunity, of which we get plenty!'

Twitter provided a line of communication from the workers offsite at events and meetings to workers in the YMCA supporting and mentoring young people, service users and members.  It also attracted new service users.

Twitter had helped YMCA to recruit new board members, volunteers, staff and supporters; to get regular donations for its charity shop; to build relationships with local celebrities; and to communicate with AMs on policy and legislation.

'Our policy for Twitter has enabled us to deliver regular, relevant and targeted communications,' said Anne-Marie Rogan.  'This extremely powerful, free marketing tool has revolutionised the way we interact and supplies business intelligence to both internal and external stakeholders.

'We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our commitment to creating innovative communications. We truly believe that providing a valuable service to our members starts with creating consistent, reliable and engaging communications that aid our students to enrich every aspect of their student life.'

 

The environmental award for organisations that have helped deliver environmental benefits for their communities.

WINNER  - The Penllergare Trust

An environmental charity in a valley on the outskirts of Swansea with more than 100 volunteers ranging from eight years old to 87, the Penllergare Trust was one of only two sites in Wales last year to be presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

The Trust was set up in 2000 to restore the landscape, which contains lakes, a walled garden, waterfall and some nationally important historical features - one of the first photographs taken of the moon was from its observatory.

It has the largest Welsh Government Glastir Woodland management programme in Wales and its habitats host otters, water voles, Kingfishers and a host of flora and fauna.  A newly-created wildflower meadow with ponds supports hundreds of plants, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibian species.

Most recently, the Trust has created a number of conservation areas where the public are excluded. These include lakeside habitat, woodland and a wild- flower meadow. The results of this action have been very encouraging with an immediate increase in survival rates amongst young water fowl and an increase in dragonfly species.

A hydro-electric turbine provides the coffee shop with electricity, with excess to export, and this element of renewable energy is promoted to groups and schools to demonstrate the local and global impacts of such schemes.

As part of the Penderry Providers' Planning Forum, the Trust integrates into neighbouring community regeneration issues, working with groups to provide a wide range of activities and events engaging socially excluded people in some of the most deprived wards in Swansea.

'We have volunteers from many walks of life and with a wide variety of health and mental health issues,' said General Manager Lee Turner. 'Anecdotally, several volunteers proclaim the project has saved their lives through combating isolation and exclusion.'

Director of Operations Ray Butt said: 'The Trust is absolutely delighted to be considered for this prestigious award. The Trust has built its development over the last 15 years on the three pillars of community involvement, historical conservation and interpretation and most importantly the conservation of the wild life at Penllergare valley wood.

'This unique mosaic of habitats was left undisturbed for almost 60 years and was under threat of development for housing.  The Trust managed to stop this development by taking over responsibility for the site and it's now the Trust's aim to protect and enhance nature's work.

'Winning this award would be a reward for the hundred or so volunteers and trustees who have worked tirelessly in all weathers to protect this site from developers and give them the encouragement to keep up their excellent efforts.'

RUNNER-UP - Canton & Riverside Grows Wild

The 'greyest areas of Cardiff' are being greened thanks to the efforts of Canton & Riverside Grows Wild, a small group of volunteers determined to make positive changes to their community.

Having adopted four neglected green spaces in the deprived areas of Riverside and Canton and developed turned them into wildlife havens, the group has delivered workshops to residents in growing and harvesting fruit and vegetables from gardens.

Volunteers carried out a 'clean-up, green-up campaign', clearing the streets of almost two tonnes of rubbish, installed planters in front gardens and on-street locations and delivered education workshops in a local school, with 320 children planting almost 5,000 bulbs.

Work was carried out with a range of organisations including the probation service and Communities First, and Canton & Riverside Grows Wild has developed a toolkit with Cardiff City Council with the aim of supporting other groups across the city wanting to carry out the same work.

'In this highly urbanised environment, we have turned grey to green, creating a one-mile long wildlife corridor in the heart of Cardiff and restoring pride and ownership in our communities,' said Volunteer Coordinator David Kilner. 

'What we have achieved is far and away beyond what any of us could have expected - 500 bulbs became 12,000 bulbs, and the past year saw over 700 participants.

'We have engaged with hundreds of people from all backgrounds - from schools, local groups, migrants and children from deprived backgrounds who would not otherwise have the opportunity to have access to vibrant green spaces, meadows and fruit bushes.'

RUNNER-UP - NewLink Wales - Buzzin Project

People with substance misuse issues are being helped on the road to recovery by learning how to become beekeepers.

NewLink Wales is addressing clients' problems through its innovative and exciting Buzzin Project concept, which has seen the installation of beehives in the organisation's car park.

Running since April 2016, volunteers learn practical and organisational skills, teamwork and many other transferable skills.  The project has also developed qualifications for participants to enhance their employability skills, with six of them having qualified as beekeepers and about to train others. 

'The project has exposed people to environmental awareness and encouraged environmentally friendly living,' said NewLink Wales Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Cordery-Bruce. 

'Bee keeping offers people a real world setting to practise the recovery skills they learn in treatment settings and counselling.  It's not just a hobby, it's being used as a therapeutic intervention too.'

There are now plans to turn the initiative into a social enterprise, with NewLink having recently secured funding to create a green roof garden and apiary. 

'We're also starting working with UK-wide project Urban Buzz to support all pollinating insects, and Cardiff City Council has allocated some green space for us in Maitland Park at the back of our building,' Lindsay added.  'All thriving together!'

 

The health, social care and wellbeing award for groups that have helped people to be happier and healthier in their communities.

WINNER  - Cardiff People First

Cardiff People First is run for and by people with a learning disability, with employees, trustees and volunteers all having first-hand experience of what it means.

The group manages projects with partners to campaign to change attitudes, get better services and enjoy more opportunities.  Initiatives have included working with Screening for Life to create a film about cervical smears so that women with a learning disability know what to expect and why they should be screened.

Members have worked with Breast Cancer Care to produce an accessible booklet explaining how to be breast aware, and with Macmillan Cancer Care to train women with a learning disability as Community Screening Champions.

They have also given training on learning disability awareness to medical, nursing, social work and psychology students, staff at GP surgeries, carers and police.

'Most of our trustees are people with a learning disability, we have three project officers who have a learning disability, our paid trainers have a learning disability, and we also have volunteer trainers with a learning disability,' said Chair Simon Richards.

'We would be beyond honoured to win this award. As a self-advocacy organisation, we help our members to make their own choices about what they want to do and where they go.

'We are proud to say we have seven paid members of staff who have a learning disability, including our Standing Up Speaking Out, Pink Ladies and Community Voices project officers.  At Cardiff People First, we help to change people's opinions, attitudes and lives for the better.'

RUNNER-UP - Volunteering Matters

Young people across South East Wales are seeing their health and wellbeing improved through an innovative approach to peer-led sexual health education.

The Sex Matters Too project run by Volunteering Matters works in partnership with the Aneurin Bevan Health Board's sexual health outreach team to train young people aged 16-25 in areas of sexual health, sexual exploitation and healthy relationships. 

The Big Lottery-funded project is helping raise the awareness of young people in Torfaen, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Blaenau Gwent aiming to increase their protection against potential exploitation.

All activities are delivered by young people themselves, based on the needs of their own local communities.  They work together in hubs to build workshops and deliver them in schools, colleges, youth clubs and other community settings.

'They are trained and supported to take ownership of workshops and are being encouraged to continue to deliver sessions into the longer term,' said Sex Matters Too Project Coordinator Cara Battrick.

RUNNER-UP - The Amber Project: Church Army

The Church Army's Amber Project supports young people aged 14-25 in Cardiff and the surrounding areas who self-harm by introducing them to the theatre, cooking, arts and crafts, music workshops, counselling and one-to-one support.

The support helps them works through issues, develop alternative coping strategies, build self-confidence and esteem and develop friendships.

'Self-harm is a growing problem with the project seeing an increase in referrals year on year in young people presenting with suicidal tendencies,' said Corporate Partnerships and Legacy Officer Becky Forder.

About 40 young people a week are helped by the project and a team that is 'passionate about the young people and helping them overcome the complex issues and struggles that hold them back from reaching their full potential in life.'

'The Amber project allows the young people to be able to express themselves in a safe and friendly group setting, as well as having time and space to explore and process issues on an individual basis.'

The good governance award for groups whose trustees ensure their organisation is well run and exemplar.

WINNER - YMCA Swansea

The trustees of YMCA Swansea are a 'forward thinking visionary board, who have led proactively and innovatively, and who have committed thousands of hours of their time to support, nurture, represent, challenge, take risks and be strong to grow, support and improve our organisation'. 

Led by a dynamic and inspirational Chair, the trustees have spearheaded a campaign over the past 12 months to rebrand and focus key work areas and provide support to local communities based on need.

Good governance is exemplified in the Board's commitment and work ethic - they hold away days and planning days to develop strategy and business plans and have sub-groups for finance, HR and project development.

'Lively, inquisitive and informed questioning and debate at Board level strikes the right balance of scrutiny, support and information,' said Chief Executive Officer Anne-Marie Rogan.

'They have and continue to be a wonderful group of people who truly care, which is maintained as membership changes as it is embedded in the culture of the organisation, strong board, good governance, strong leadership, good business.'

The trustees have worked hard to achieve a high level of expertise within a wide range of fields relevant to the mission, vision and high standards of leadership and provision set by the charity.

Anne-Marie Rogan added: 'We are delighted to be shortlisted in two categories of the Third Sector Awards.

'We are a thriving social enterprise, doing good business, whilst providing key services for some of the most vulnerable people across Wales.  First class communications and solid governance are key ingredients to our success, helping us make a real and tangible impact on the lives of young people and the wider community.  I am very proud to work with such a professional and talented team.'

RUNNER-UP - The Fern Partnership 

The Fern Partnership works alongside Ferndale Community School in Maerdy, Rhondda, to raise funds for the school and assist in developing the lives and wellbeing of the local and wider communities by offering services and support to families and generations under the remit of a 'Generations Together' programme. 

The trustees have 'a burning desire and determination' to support, challenge and advise the management team ensuring high quality service and excellent standards are delivered.  A range of professionals with a passion for education, business and the community, they have knowledge across a broad spectrum of key areas, which is 'a profound strength' of the growing organisation. 

The trustees act as ambassadors for the charity and actively seek to create opportunities to increase access to stakeholders, share information, seek the views of clients and act as sources of communication between it and the community it serves.

Each trustee has experience of securing accountability for the impact of significant budgets and is proficient at analysing expenditure and challenging the management team to ensure that sustainability remains a focus.

They ensure that members of staff receive effective and productive performance management and that they have access to high quality training and research findings.

'The Trustees have worked hard to achieve a high level of expertise within a wide range of fields relevant to the mission, vision and high standards of leadership and provision set by the charity,' said Director Heather Nicholas.

'Each trustee has received training regarding data analysis and is knowledgeable about the processes and methods used to secure accountability and measure impact.  As such, they are effective in offering a high level of challenge as well as support through their individual areas of expertise.'

RUNNER-UP - Eiriol Mental Health Advocacy

Eiriol Mental Health Advocacy trustees have embraced a model of thinking allowing them to fulfil their roles more effectively - the '3S' model - supporting management, administration and advocates in excellent service delivery; supervision to ensure standards of performance and targets from commissioners are maintained; and regularly reviewing current and future strategy to ensure they meet needs and geographical coverage.

They use 'outside in' thinking when making decisions, 'stand in the shoes' of the group to ensure the best possible outcomes, and use three yardsticks of finance, mental health and operations, reviewing finances quarterly, monitoring the rate of new referrals and speed of response to them, and reviewing day-to-day activities.

'We learn lessons and ensure that the board of trustees has a range of skills and experience capable of taking the charity forward,' said Trust Chair Andrew Hardwick.  'We articulate a vision for the charity and provide clear caring guidance for our committed staff.'

 

The award for innovative fundraising - for organisations who have run campaigns or events demonstrating creativity and innovation in fundraising.

WINNER - Awel Aman Tawe

A wind farm built by Awel Aman Tawe has helped turn the social enterprise into one of the largest in Wales, with more than £3m due to go back into environmental projects over the 20 year lifetime of the project.

The group used Twitter and Facebook to secure investment from across the UK and abroad, organised 25 public visits to see the wind farm in construction, and obtained support from celebrities including actor Michael Sheen - who is from Port Talbot, ex-Wales rugby captain Paul Thorburn and former national poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke.

One of the largest community energy projects in the UK, the wind farm will meetthe equivalent annual electricity needs of around 2,500 homes in one of the country's most deprived communities.

'We have built an £8.2m capital asset wholly owned by a social enterprise,' said Director Dan McCallum.  'The turnover of the wind farm is £1.1m a year, and we have an active body of 700-plus members helping to democratise energy and who are committed to helping the wind farm succeed and encourage further projects like this in Wales.

'Being shortlisted for a Third Sector Cymru award is great recognition for our community wind farm fundraising effort.  Quite simply, without our share offer, our wind farm would not have been built.  It was vital in enabling us to secure a £4.75m bridging loan from Welsh Government. Our turbines are now owned by ordinary people with over £3m going back into environmental projects.

'We are very proud to have raised £1.68m from the share offer so far which we believe is the highest ever in Wales. Our share offer is still open till the end of March at a projected annual interest rate of 5%.  Five charities have invested, alongside member of public, and we'd be keen that more do so - it's a great fit with charitable objectives and better than any bank.'

RUNNER-UP - Tenovus Cancer Care

A bid to halt a decline in the number of gifts in wills left to Tenovus Cancer Care has resulted in the charity seeing an estimated £1m in future income - 10 times that achieved during previous campaigns.

Wills are a vital source of income - funding a £1m a year research programme - but legacy notifications were steadily declining and the pattern looked likely to continue, jeopardising the future work of the charity.

The 2016Cancer Free Futurelegacy fundraising campaign was a multi-channel marketing project that included offering the opportunity for people aged 50 and over across Wales to make or update their will for free during March.

This campaign saw 590 wills written in total against a target of 400, with 321 (52%) pledges worth over £1m in future income.  'The increase in pledges far exceeded our targets and expectations, as did the estimated £1m in future income - 10 times that achieved during previous campaigns,' said Tenovus Cancer Care Director of Income Generation Clare Gallie.

'It helped to secure the future of this vital income stream and to safeguard the work of the charity and we're absolutely delighted to be shortlisted in the Third Sector Awards.

'Our legacy campaign was a really important project for the charity, coordinating multiple channels including our first ever TV advert, and it's fantastic that our hard work and creativity has been recognised.

'The funds will be vital in keeping our research programme running, so that we can make a real difference to people affected by cancer.'

RUNNER-UP - Wales Millennium Centre

Wales Millennium Centre'sRoald Dahl's City of the Unexpectedweekend in Cardiff last September was the biggest free outdoor cultural event to ever take place in the capital city. 

The celebration of Wales's most popular author's centenary saw hundreds of thousands of people flooding the streets in a festival which 'took art, culture and creativity to a new level'.

Organised in association with National Theatre Wales, the event raised the profile of Cardiff, hitting headlines and creating a buzz on social media worldwide. 

In order to deliver the Centre's ambition of 'inspiring our nation and impressing the world' a strategic fundraising campaign strategy is required.  For this particular event, which focused on widespread participation and engagement, the Centre's development team organisedBreakfast of the Unexpected, an 'outrageous experience' which included guests being escorted through a mist of smoke to tables with mismatched crockery and props such as whoopee cushions, and enjoying a breakfast of Norwegian platters in honour of Dahl's family roots, including edible flowers, mystery appetizers and chocolate.

More than 70 representatives from the business community attended the breakfast, with over £50,000 of corporate support received as a result.  By the end of the campaign, the fundraising team generated almost £700,000 towards the weekend which was a resounding success. 

Wales Millennium Centre Head of Communications Jayne Smith said: 'We were delighted to hear that we'd been shortlisted for the WCVA Awards Innovative Fundraising category. 

'As a charity working in the arts sector, it is always important we utilise our creativity to deliver unique and attractive proposals to inspire and engage our audience.  Our Breakfast of the Unexpected was certainly unusual and it is wonderful to be recognised by the sector for injecting our artistic talents into an area of the business which is so critical to supporting our creative learning ambition. 

'We are exceptionally excited for the awards as it is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the third sector - as well showcase how Wales Millennium Centre is positively impacting individuals and communities across Wales.'

 

The award for digital inclusion supported by Digital Communities Wales

WINNER - RNIB Cymru - Online Today/Arlein Heddiw

Welsh people with vision or hearing loss living in communities most at risk of marginalisation from the digital world are being supported to get online by an innovative RNIB project, run in partnership with, Vision Support and North Wales Society for the Blind.The Online Today project is training a team of eight full-time employed Digital Skills Officers, supported by 20 trained volunteers, to help people with sight loss 'begin their digital journey'.  An 'entry level' campaign, it assumes participants have no prior knowledge of digital technology.

They show how to make best use of in-built accessibility features and apps specifically designed for use by people with sight loss, as well as delivering basic IT skills such as navigation, staying safe, setting up and using e-mail, social media, video calls, on-line shopping and banking.

In 2016, the project worked extensively with the Stroke Association to deliver over 20 sessions to groups and clubs, with many dozens of people who had experienced a stroke becoming digitally included.  A total 60% of people post-stroke experience sight loss, with a further 20% experiencing hearing loss.

Working jointly with Low Vision Service Wales (LVSW) has enabled Online Today to support people from the very earliest identification of sight loss. 

Project Manager Chris Hoyle said: ' The RNIB Online Today team along with our partners North Wales Society for Blind People and Vision Support, work hard to make sure that blind people, and those with a severe sight or hearing impairment,  understand that they can enjoy the benefits of the digital world like everyone else.

'Being shortlisted for this award not only recognises the skill and dedication of the team, but also sends a strong and clear message to the wider community that sight or hearing loss are not the barrier to participating in the digital world of the 21st century that many think.'

WINNER - Change Step

The Change Step peer mentoring and advice service led by CAIS, and delivered throughout Wales by members of the DACW consortium, supports military veterans who have difficulties with mental health including PTSD, substance misuse, involvement with the criminal justice system, homelessness, unemployment, debt and/or gambling addiction, as well as offering assistance and information to their families and friends.

Although offline engagement and interaction with veterans was already working well, the charity wanted to reach more people by enhancing the delivery of online services to veterans and families across Wales.

In partnership with Digital Communities Wales, BT and EE, the Change Step Digital Inclusion project delivers support via one-to-one veteran-to-veteran interventions and consultations, group support sessions, video and interactive training tutorials, self-help work groups and guest speakers from outside agencies.

All staff and a number of volunteers have become accredited Digital Champions, and the project has also been successful in gaining Lottery funding and sponsorship for equipment and further training.

Change Step Fundraising Manager Linzi Jones said: 'Our team are very proud to have been nominated for this WCVA award.  Initially, our digital drop-ins were set up to provide greater accessibility to our support services, but have rapidly expanded into a digital learning hub for our staff and volunteers.

'A grant from the Big Lottery Fund and access to equipment from Digital Communities Wales have enabled us to work as a more cohesive team across Wales - and also means that service users can get support, no matter which region they live in.'

RUNNER-UP - Aneurin Leisure Trust

Blaenau Gwent Libraries' Aneurin Leisure Trust are making a difference to local people's lives by allowing them access to a network of 64 public computers and also training volunteers and staff to support and encourage them to get online. 

The informal, non-threatening environment of the county borough's six libraries puts learners at ease, with the service developed around the libraries often being the first port of call for digital help, including for complete beginners.  

Staff and volunteers have been trained by the Welsh Government's Digital Communities Wales project, building their confidence and equipping them with the skills to further develop the digital offer to customers. 

A wide range of partners are helping the progress of learners, such as the 'Get Blaenau Gwent On-line' project which delivers activities in all libraries, including 'safe surfing', beginners' ipad sessions and saving money online. 

Other local support organisations helping people access information online include Macmillan Cancer, AgeCymru, Community Education and Gwent Family History Society.

Library Services Manager Tracy Jones said: 'Blaenau Gwent Libraries are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the WCVA Digital Award.  The award would give us a quality mark, which would be recognised at a national level.  It would also prove we are making a difference to people's lives by delivering a high standard of digital support to our customers.'  

 

Award for the most admired organisation - shortlisted and winner chosen by public vote

WINNER - Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales

Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales (FTWW) is carrying out 'truly amazing work' supporting women and girls who are not receiving help for their health problems.

The organisation was set up by Chief Executive Officer Debbie Shaffer after she failed to get treatment and knew that there were many other women in the same situation.  Currently focusing on endometriosis, FTWW members feel their inadequate treatment is due to the lack of specialist provision in Wales. 

Iona Roberts joined the group after her daughter was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was 14 years old.  FTWW had provided the family with the information needed to get a GP referral to a specialist centre, as a result of which, her daughter had had surgery and was now well for the first time in six years. 

'This organisation stands out because Debbie and the members are all volunteers,' Iona Roberts added.  'They fund all their expenses - their own travel costs including accommodation, and printing of bilingual posters and leaflets, which are translated by group members.'

'I believe FTWW are an amazing support for the girls and women in Wales -without their support, many women will be having repeated unnecessary treatment.'

Debbie Shaffer said: 'This award would make a huge difference to FTWW in recognition of our continuing efforts to raise awareness of the various invisible illnesses and disabilities affecting girls and women across Wales.

'We exist to empower those girls and women, and lobby for change.  The result is a vibrant, supportive and educational community which is making a massive difference to the lives of countless people across the country.'

RUNNER-UP - The Fern Partnership

The members of Rhondda Cynon Taf's Fern Partnership are 'beacons of positivity' who have turned around the lives of people in their communities.

Running two successful Flying Start Childcare projects and helping deliver Communities First, the team has improved the health and wellbeing of local residents, as well as changing 'the historical culture and attitudes'. 

The Community Hub it runs provides IT facilities, classes for adults and children, training courses and Welsh language classes, and the group recently piloted the first project of its kind in Wales to encourage integration of generations in an effort to reduce isolation and ageist attitudes and increase different generation's respect and value for one another.

'Their positive, can do attitude, drive and passion has resulted in The Fern Partnership achieving their three-year plan in 18 months', said nominator Wayne Finnemore from Communities for Work.

'They are supporting people in the community to improve their employability, skills and self-esteem - helping Rhondda Cynon Taf achieve the highest number in Wales of adults gaining recognised accredited qualifications

'They are a highly qualified and experienced group of passionate individuals who all share the same vision, to break the cycle of deprivation.  Their drive to make a difference is evident in all they do.'

Fern Partnership Childcare and Community Development Manager Nikki Beach said the award nomination was recognition of the staff's hard work, commitment, innovation and dedication.'

RUNNER-UP - Headway Cardiff

Headway Cardiff and South East Wales has improved the lives of hundreds of people affected by acquired brain injury, providing invaluable support to families and individuals.

Before the charity was set up by people with acquired brain injury and their families - supported by therapists in Rookwood Hospital - patients discharged from hospital could be left with little or no ongoing support to cope with and adapt to the devastating consequences of brain injury.

'They could become very isolated, and Headway brought them together to gain comfort and acceptance through mutual support,' said Sian Warren, a neurolaw consultant at Hugh James Solicitors.  'The holistic, personal and tailored approach taken to supporting people is inspirational.'

Headway provides an information and outreach service, Independence and Wellbeing Centre and a welfare benefits and counselling service offering support to reduce the emotional impact, stress and anxiety often associated with brain injury.

Headway Chief Executive Rebecca Pearce said: 'We're thrilled to be among the five most admired organisations in Wales this year.  Despite having grown and offering quite a range of services, we still think of ourselves as quite a small, service user led organisation - so to get this kind of recognition is quite something.'

RUNNER-UP - Awel Aman Tawe

The volunteers of Awel Aman Tawe spent 18 years submitting planning applications for a wind farm which is currently supplying electricity to meet the needs of around 2,500 homes in the Swansea Valley. 

The community energy charity had three applications turned down, was turned down twice for common land consent and lost an eight-day public inquiry and a judicial review.

'Staying solvent was a major achievement, and they finally got planning and common land consent and started construction in March 2016,' said nominator Chris Blake, Director of The Green Valleys (Wales) CIC and Chair of Community Energy Wales.

'The local community voted in favour of the community in 2000 - the turnout was higher than the general election,' he added.  'Fourteen years later, a PhD was written about the project and the researcher found that community support had gone up in the intervening period.

'The main reason I admire Awel Aman Tawe is that they kept going with the wind farm, have supported many other projects and groups during this time, and are finally seeing their own dream come true.'

Awel Aman Tawe Manager Dan McCallum said: 'We deserve to win this award for stubbornness!  It's taken 18 years to get our community wind farm built and it is simply amazing to see the turbines generating clean power in our community.

'We are also chuffed to see a lot more people walking and cycling on our wind farm access track on the Gwrhyd.  But to tackle climate change and engage everyone in that challenge, we now need to move forward quickly in Wales to expand the community energy sector - exciting times for everyone!'

RUNNER-UP - Soroptimist International Wales South

Soroptimist International Wales South (SIWS), which has more than 400 members in 16 clubs across the region, has led the way in campaigning on anti-human trafficking.

The organisation is part of a global volunteer movement of women inspiring action and transforming lives locally, nationally and internationally. SIWS has developed the first anti-slavery stickers for local taxis and partnered with the Welsh Government Anti-Slavery Team on producing and distributing leaflets.

Currently, a major regional project is focussed on 'toilet twinning' - raising funds to give people in underdeveloped areas of the world access to proper latrines, clean water and improved health - now girls can attend school every day instead of missing time each month due to lack of privacy, no longer have to spend hours during school time collecting water, and women and girls are safer from abuse.

'All the work is carried out by volunteers - there are no paid staff to run the organisation or carry out any of the projects,' said nominator Angela Gorman, Chief Executive of Life for African Mothers.  'The variety of work provided is so wide ranging, and the public benefit so great that it makes this organisation quite unique.'

Regional President Bobbie Sheldrake said Soroptimist International Wales South was thrilled to be nominated for the Most Admired Organisation.  'We go about our work quietly, but are committed to making our voice heard on behalf of women and girls locally and further afield.  We are determined women working together to make a difference and ensure the world is a better place - and we have fun.'