Projects that helped the public cope with life over lockdown have been celebrated at the Kent Mental Health and Wellbeing Awards.
Thirty-three people, organisations and initiatives were recognised at the annual event, which was staged at the Ashford International Hotel on Friday.
Ten nominees were named as county champions on the night and received a limited-edition trophy designed by 12-year-old Faith Tuohy from Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, Tenterden and cut from sustainable bamboo by Cactus Graphics in Dover.
Keynote speeches were delivered by double Olympian Jack Green, Cllr Clair Bell, Cabinet Member for Adult social Care and Public Health at Kent County Council, and Allison Duggal, Interim Director of Public Health at KCC.
Jack Green, from Folkestone, revealed to guests his own mental health issues that affected him as an athlete competing for the Great Britain team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Mr Green’s passion for issues around wellbeing has led him to champion openness and transparency on mental health issues – and to become an Honorary Patron of South Kent Mind.
Jenny Woledge, of Canterbury, from Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, was named the 2021 Kent Suicide Prevention Champion in recognition of her work with support groups for people bereaved by suicide in Margate and Canterbury – and her work with schools, workplaces and universities.
Temple Hill Primary Academy, Dartford was named as the 2021 Kent School Staff Champion for its outstanding pastoral care support of pupils and staff. Innovations included a wellbeing toolkit, mindfulness lesson plans prepared for each year group, a laughology website, and personalised video messages for children to minimise the risk of isolation.
Abigail’s Footsteps, Dartford was selected as the 2021 Kent Counsellor of the Year for its work in helping parents come to terms with and move on from the appalling trauma of baby loss.
Dover smART Project were named as the county’s Pastoral Care Champions for their support of young carers in south Kent and delivering more than 5,000 care and activity packages to older residents in the town.
Penny Lamb, of Folkestone, representing South Kent Mind, was named as the 2021 Kent Wellbeing Champion for never letting her need to shield during the pandemic get in the way of her commitment to improving other people’s mental wellbeing and supporting colleagues with training.
The Music Man Project of Medway was picked as the Kent Wellbeing Activity Co-ordinator of the Year. Run by Sarah Mann, the project provides a music education service for children and adults with learning disabilities, delivering accessible music tuition that leads to inspirational performances.
Adam Palmer and Ashley Stone of Strood, Medway were named as the 2021 Kent Community Fundraisers of the Year in recognition of the plethora of events they staged, raising £7,500 in total for mental health charity North Kent Mind.
Keiron Piper of Sevenoaks Swimming Club was selected as the 2021 Kent Sport Champion of the Year for being an inspirational role model to the young people at his sports club and the recognition that their mental health and wellbeing was just as important as results.
Bemix was named as the 2021 Kent Peer Mentors of the Year for their work supporting people with autism and learning disabilities.
Stevie Rice of West Kent Mind was named as the 2021 Kent Mental Health Leader of the Year in recognition of her work at a local, regional and national level representing the sector.
Simon Dolby, Chief Executive of mental health charity South Kent Mind and co-host for the night, said: “Mental health has been the Cinderella of the health service for too long and its champions deserve to be in the spotlight. These awards illustrate the dedication and passion so many charities, volunteers and professionals deliver for the sector – and I am proud to have played a part in celebrating their hard work and commitment.”
A best practice booklet detailing the 33 winning nominations will be sent to 1,000 Kent organisations over the coming week. The event was supported by Stagecoach SE, Loch Associates, KCC Public Health, Medway Council Public Health, Kent Community Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund, Crossways Community, Blessing by Ble, Cactus Graphics, Ashford International Hotel, Co-op, Premier Foods and Independent Music Productions.
To find out more or to download the best practice booklet visit www.KentMHWAwards.org.uk or follow @KentMHWAwards on Twitter or Facebook.
Full list of winners:
Ashford’s peer-mentoring initiative of the year is the Mental Health User Voice Network.
Ashford’s community ambassador of the year is Kevin Finch.
Bexley’s charity wellbeing staff award goes to the Crisis Cafe team at Bexley Mind
Bexley’s volunteer service award goes to Bexley’s Women Aid
The Canterbury district’s pastoral-care award goes to the Far Skate Foundation
The Canterbury district’s wellbeing award for the charity sector goes to the Revival Café & Wellbeing in Whitstable.
The Canterbury district’s wellbeing award for the business sector goes to Canterbury’s ADM Computing.
The Dartford eco project award goes to Ecology Island delivered by North Kent Mind and the Countryside Partnership.
Dartford’s school staff award goes to Temple Hill Primary Academy
Dartford counsellor of the year winner is Abigail’s Footsteps
Dover community ambassador award goes to Tracy Carr of Talk It Out.
Dover’s pastoral care award goes to Dover smART Project
Folkestone’s wellbeing award goes to Penny Lamb of South Kent Mind
Folkestone’s volunteer service award goes is Living Words.
Folkestone’s Innovation award goes to The Kent Coast Volunteering anthology team
Maidstone’s youth project of the year is Mid Kent Mind.
Megan Abbott of Kent County Council’s public health team wins the suicide prevention award for the Maidstone area.
Maidstone’s communication award goes to Shout for the Release the Pressure 24-hour text support service.
Maidstone counselling service of the year is the Kent Association for the Blind.
Medway’s government and NHS wellbeing award goes to the Medway public health team
Medway’s activity coordinator of the year is the Music Man Project
Adam Palmer and Ashley Stone are Medway’s charity volunteer fundraisers of the year.
Swale’s wellbeing award goes to Faversham-based Mind and Body and their ‘We Are With You’ project.
Swale peer-mentor of the year – in the business category – is Bemix.
Madison Hinton wins Swale’s community leadership award.
Swale’s volunteer fundraiser of the year is Suzanne Middleton-Elliott of Sittingbourne.
Thanet’s volunteer service award is Jenny Woledge, from Canterbury, of Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
Thanet’s Community sport or activity project of the year goes to the Charitable Football Club’s Head in the Game initiative.
Thanet’s activity coordinator of the year – for the business sector – is The Community driving school CIC
West Kent school staff award goes to the New Beacon School, Sevenoaks.
West Kent wellbeing award goes to Crossways Community.
West Kent Community Sport or activity winner of the year is Keiron Piper of Sevenoaks Swimming Club.
West Kent’s Leadership Award for the mental health sector is Stevie Rice of West Kent Mind.