Awards celebrate record breaking year of social enterprise

Wed, November 8th, 2017

The eleventh annual First Ark Impact Awards hosted by Neil Fitzmaurice

The eleventh annual First Ark Impact Awards celebrated a record-breaking year of social enterprise in the North West at a ceremony hosted by Liverpool actor Neil Fitzmaurice.

A crowd of over 200 businesses and individuals assembled at The Venue in Huyton to recognise the individuals and organisations who have made a positive difference in local communities around the region over the past 12 months.

Guests were entertained by a mixture of song and dance routines provided by Liverpool-based performers Up All Night and The Soul Wizards, along with MD Productions who are all set to return to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of November. The dance troupe is coached by Miguel Doforo and reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent on three occasions.

This year saw a record number of nominations in the run up to the event and winners include Knowsley Disability Concern (KDC), who were crowned Community Project of the Year. KDC launched The BIG Pathway Project in December 2016, a programme of learning and development activities for adults with learning disabilities. The programme outperformed its own targets, having initially planned to support 30 participants but actually saw 47 people complete the course successfully.

The Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Carolyn Edwards for her work with Genie in the Gutter, a bridge to recovery service which provides informed choices around drug and alcohol treatment to active substance misusers committed to exploring a new way forward. Despite having 90% of its funding withdrawn in 2016, Genie in the Gutter has gone from strength to strength as a result of Carolyn’s determination and exceptional leadership skills.

The ADHD Foundation, which provides therapeutic services for those living with and affected by ADHD, took home the Investment of the Year award. The Merseyside-based charity was able to open a new clinic and increase the number of people who could access its services which include 1-1 coaching, support for young offenders with ADHD and educational programmes for clinicians.

Another notable winner was Barrie Wells, named Inspirational Person of the Year in recognition of his charity work. Barrie set up Box 4 Kids to benefit children with serious illnesses in 2010. Since then, the scheme has expanded nationwide and has the support of over 80 venues and 110 companies who donate their executive boxes over 12 sports. In 2016, with the support of Aintree Racecourse, Box 4 Kids became the official charity partner of The Jockey Club. The charity also reached a landmark of over 5,000 guests who have benefited from a much needed rest at a top sporting event.

The full list of award winners is below:

  • KHT Resident of the Year, Sponsored by F H Groundworks, Christine Doyle
  • Volunteer of the Year, Sponsored by KCVS, Vernon Davis
  • Community Group of the Year, Sponsored by Structec, Hype
  • Social Organisation of the Year, Sponsored by Keepmoat,The Big Help Project
  • Community Project of the Year, Sponsored by Anthony Collins Solicitors, Knowsley Disability Concern
  • Entrepreneur of the Year, Sponsored by Michael Page Housing and Finance, Carolyn Edwards, Genie in the Gutter
  • Apprentice of the Year, Sponsored by Novus Solutions, Sue Thompson
  • Social Enterprise Champion, Sponsored by First Ark Social Investment, Fusion 21
  • Business Partnership of the Year, Sponsored by Wright Hassall,  Maloney Associates
  • Investment of the Year, Sponsored by Fusion 21, ADHD Foundation
  • Inspirational Person of the Year, Sponsored by Travis Perkins, Barrie Wells

The awards come towards the end of a very busy year for the First Ark Group, which operates as a group of businesses dedicated to creating life-changing opportunities in communities across the North West. This year has seen First Ark companies progress new housing developments in Knowsley, a new financial service offering and record levels of investment by First Ark Social Investment.

Speaking after the awards, Bob Taylor, Chief Executive of First Ark, said:

“These awards are all about celebrating the achievements of people and organisations who work to make our communities stronger. This is our 11th awards celebration, and year after year these unsung heroes go that extra mile to make our communities a better place to live and work. We’re proud to be able to contribute and recognise the difference that they are making.

“It was really uplifting to hear about all of the nominations and the incredible work that is going on around the region. We at First Ark are partnering with an ever increasing number of organisations who are committed to making a difference which is great for local people and communities.”

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