On Friday 29th June, over 750 people from the learning disabilities and autism sector attended an evening of celebration at Birmingham’s ICC, for The Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards (England & Scotland)

Guests represented all areas of the sector, including inspirational people with a learning disability, charities, private care providers, residential and nursing homes aswell as local authority adult social care departments. The one thing these individuals had in common was that they epitomised the unsung heroes of our communities. Without such individuals, quality, person centred support for people with a learning disability would fail.

The purposed of the Awards is to celebrate excellence across the sector and pay tribute to those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding excellence within their field of work. Categories represented all areas of the sector, from frontline staff such as support workers and managers to people who have made an impact in other ways through training, breaking down barriers and best autism practice.

The gala dinner started in style with a drinks reception, followed by a superb gourmet meal and a powerful theatrical performance from the inspirational Baked Bean Company. The awards, compered by Steve Walls and hosted by TV personality and campaigner Sally Phillips, were followed by more celebrations and dancing into the night.

Support for the event included The Association for Real Change (Arc), Care England, National Autism Society, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), as well other sector and commercial organisations.

The winners of the Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards (England & Scotland), together with the judge’s comments are detailed below:

The Employer Award (Independent)
Catherine Care
The passion was oozing from Jim and Sharon from the minute they sat down. Jim said ‘do it once and do it right’ which had us nodding our heads. The fact that their staff wanted to work with people with the most complex needs, stand out to us that they had to win!

The Employer Award (Not for Profit)
Walsingham Support

Walsingham’s Support’s passion and drive to enhance the lives of people they support was inspirational. We felt they were a dynamic team who focussed on making a tangible difference.

The Employer of People With a Disability Award
Quality Consultants – Dimensions

Quality Consultants, Dimensions demonstrated a very strong commitment to ensure the voice of people is heard. It is clear that the people they support are at the heart of this and are supported to grow.

The Newcomer Award
Emma Cork – Eden Futures

Emma demonstrated her commitment to improving the quality of life of the people she supports. Emma is a positive role model for support workers and is passionate about achieving great outcomes and building strong community connections.

The Support Worker Award (Independent)
Bethany Harden – The Grange

Bethany is a very passionate and creative young lady with a drive to make a difference to people’s lives. She uses her skills and creativity to design and implement person centred resources for service users. She clearly loves her job.

The Support Worker Award (Not for Profit)
Florance Ndlovu – Camphill Village Trust

An exceptional individual approaching everyday with passion and commitment to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives. We need more Florance’s in the world as she is absolutely magic and inspirational! Well done.

The Team Award
Dementia Project Team – MacIntryre

Exceptional work mixing lived experience, sharing positively and helping to develop resources. The team are outstandingly fabulous and strive to make dementia something not to be scared of. They show so much enthusiasm even after personal loss. A wonderful demonstration of team working.

The Registered Manager Award
Sarah Harnell – Jaffray Care

Sarah’s passion for the services and the teams she manages really shines through and she is a real credit to Jaffray Care

The Frontline Leader Award
Anya Govier – Care in Style

Anya clearly demonstrated a heart felt passion for leading and inspiring a group of individuals. She demonstrated skill, empathy and warmth within her vital role in the care sector.

The Senior Manager Award
Steve Clark – Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust

An inspirational, professional, skilled individual and a positive role model for us all! The positive difference that Steve has made to the lives of young people is admirable and deserves to be recognised

The Learning Disability Nurse Award
Sue Bridges – Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust

Absolutely outstanding practice, very driven and extremely committed. She has embedded systematic culture change across a large NHS Trust. This is exceptional work.

The Making a Difference Award (Independent)
Holly Creese – Lucy Glyn

Holly’s passion clearly shone through. She inspired the judges and spoke with great warmth about the people she supports. Her values were so pure and she puts people in her care at the centre of everything she does.

The Making a Difference Award (Not for Profit)
Harvest and Help Gardening Services – Gateshead Council

This is an innovative service within the community that ‘Makes a difference’ to the lives of many. Passionate and unassuming, the service is led from the front with drive and enthusiasm. We feel sure that the service will continue to blossom.

The Trainer Award
Psychology Department, Priory Group

The judges were impressed with the evidence-based research that was presented and how Sarah involves service users in all aspects of training. What is a difficult demanding environment to work in, is clearly made easier for staff due to the enthusiasm and content of the training delivered to them by the team.

The Supported Housing Award
Golden Lane Housing

Three fantastic individuals at Golden Lane Housing who are so passionate and put the tenants at the core of everything they do. They gave heartfelt stories that showed their compassion and empathy.

The Breaking Down Barriers Award
Enable – City of Wolverhampton Council

In the words of the team: “There are no barriers in our thinking and we will work though, round and over challenged when we face them.” This service goes above and beyond to enable the people it supports to live life to the full. Inspirational!

The Sporting Chance Award
Tim Snell & Andy Rawnsley, Aspire Community Benefit Society

This social enterprise has shown great change in how it delivers services for people with additional needs in its area. They have changed their service model and direct it from the community they support. They have shown how complete transformation of service is possible with complete community inclusion with excellent results.

The Supporting Older People With Learning Disabilities Award
Haddon’s Staff Team – MacIntyre

Creativity, determination and passion to develop and co-produce responsive support for people with learning disabilities as they age were at the heart of this team, who recognised that as we change – the support we need also changes. The winner is The Haddon’s Staff team from MacIntyre.

The Great Autism Practice Award
Wast Hills Autism Service – Danshell Group

A shining example of a team with a shared passion and an individualised pathway to support people at the most difficult time, through innovative, inclusive practice to achieve outstanding outcomes.

The Positive Behaviour Support Award
Ashley Gibson – Potens

Ashley demonstrated a wide knowledge and understanding of PBS within complex care settings, contributing to the consistent implementation of PBS within the organisation using a variety of tools and approaches.

The People’s Award (Individual)
Claire Brocklehurst, Focus Care Agency

Claire presented as dynamic individual with a zest for life. She demonstrated a caring and thoughtful personality which is reflected in all of the areas of her life where she offers support for others.

The People’s Award (Group)
Proactive Committee, Active Prospects

An extremely motivated and inspiring group of people, who, through their own determination and hard work are actively changing the lives of other people in many varied ways and should continue to strive for the people they represent and help.

The Outstanding Contribution Award
David Reid, Chief Executive, Birtenshaw

Although all the candidates for this award were worthy of winning it was clear that David’s focus and drive to turn Birtenshaw’s fate around for the people it serves, shone through. Whilst talking to David it was clear that he took little credit for the work he has achieved during the last ten years and promoted the work and commitment of his team to the success achieved. Without self-promotion David’s passion and commitment were evident. Celebration and praise of his team and the people who use the services are his main driver. A very worthy winner

The Lifetime Achievement Award
Yvonne Newbold, Parent, Writer, Trainer, Campaigner
In the words of Jim Blair, Consultant Nurse Intellectual (Learning) Disabilities at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who nominated Yvonne:

“Yvonne is a dynamic inspirational person with a fabulously engaging manner that ensure effective transformational change with everyone that she comes into contact with.

She has a brilliant way with words that ensure they are powerful and lead to change in a positive way.
The exceptional work she has done in relation to Violent and Challenging Behaviour has destroyed the view frequently held by professionals, that those young people with learning disabilities who attack their parents, do so because of how they have been treated by them, rather than an indication of what is going on inside them.
The wonderful work she has done in relation to her own experiences of living with cancer and supporting others is excellent.

Yvonne’s work, Special Parent Handbook, is I know a powerhouse for change for so many parents as well as professionals.

It is always a joy to be with Yvonne teaching, writing and presenting solutions to challenging situations. I am delighted to know Yvonne and very privileged to call her my friend.”