The Hotter Community Awards – part of the Amazing Women Awards 2019 – all involve brilliant women getting things done around the country. The Caring for Others Award recognises amazing individuals whose pioneering initiatives have impacted thousands of lives.
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From July the public can cast their vote for winners in this category, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your say!
1. Amanda Halford, 50: the foster carer impacting hundred of young lives
Amanda has been a foster carer for eight years with independent fostering agencies and her local county council. She leads voluntary counselling assessments for young people and runs a listening circle group for NATP (National Association of Therapeutic Parents).
Amanda says, “Sadly, not all children have the experience of a positive, nurturing environment, and this lack of attachment can result in emotional and behavioural difficulties.
“These kids are not bad, they have had bad stuff happen to them. It’s our job to open their eyes to a new world full of possibility, revisiting developmental milestones they may have missed, teaching life skills and helping bring enjoyment into their lives.’
Gillian Hamill, who nominated Amanda, says, “Amanda is an amazing woman who dedicates her life to looking after traumatised children, offering stability, fairness and love.
“There are times when every bed in her house is filled with children. I have watched as Amanda has given younger children a long-term home and enabled teenagers to turn their life around, giving them self-confidence and life skills. On top of this she always has time to meet up and support fostering colleagues in the difficult times.”
2. Alison Bunce, 56: the nurse spearheading life-changing care initiatives
Alison is a senior nurse at Ardgowan Hospice in Greenock. In 2016 she was awarded a Nightingale Travel Scholarship to study compassionate care methods in the US. She came across an enterprise called NODA (‘no one dies alone’) and has since instigated this and other caring initiatives across Inverclyde.
Alison says, “We have an ageing population and NODA is about ordinary people helping ordinary people in times of crisis and at end of life. It makes a huge difference for those who would be lonely and alone.
“The companions (160 volunteers) who sit say it’s a privilege. I’m so proud that the initiative is now available in hospitals and every care home in our area.”
Muriel Searle, a NODA volunteer, who nominated Alison, says, “NODA means people who are dying, with no family or friends, can have the comfort of a companion to sit with them. Alison was responsible for getting this and many other caring initiatives started.”
3. Victoria English, 50: the special needs teacher championing mental health and wellbeing
Victoria is a special educational needs teacher at Coleg Gwent in Wales, and a vocal advocate across many communities for the importance of good mental health. She encourages her students to work with charities to raise money and awareness for local, national and international causes, raising hundreds of pounds each year, and promoting self-confidence and independence among her students.
Victoria says, “I’m incredibly passionate about the students fulfilling their potential, and their wellbeing is pivotal for me because without good mental health, they are unable to engage with the curriculum. My students are often on the autistic spectrum, some have mild global delay, others profound learning disability, many have suffered bullying and have very low self-esteem.
“We show them strategies to build self-confidence, resilience and independence, employing mindfulness techniques and taking the focus from the self to what we can do for others. I love equipping young people with tangible ways to look after their mental health, and watching them grow and blossom.”
Anja Nielsen, who nominated Victoria, says, “Victoria has made it her mission to campaign for the hidden voices of those with learning difficulties, especially in relation to mental health.
“She always ensures a focus on what her students can achieve, rather than what they may struggle with. Her students are some of the kindest and most ambitious young people I have ever met, despite their challenging learning circumstances, and I fully believe that this is due to Victoria’s commitment to them.”