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Community heroes celebrated

Community heroes celebrated

Our stars of the community have been announced at a special ceremony.

Outstanding volunteers and community groups who support people in their local community, clean up their neighbourhood or encourage people to learn new skills and overcome loneliness, were among the winners and those highly commended.

As part of this year’s awards, 15 years after we first launched them, we also recognised volunteers who supported people during the lockdown and looked after their local communities.

Melanie Livesey, member of the Grosvenor Estate Resident Association in Kearsley, took home the lifetime achievement star for her 27 years of work with local communities.

A network of business owners across Bolton were also recognised with a health and wellbeing star for their work improving awareness of mental health in Bolton where 75 per cent of suicides are in men. The Manbassadors work together to spot signs of poor mental health and support where they can.

Making Bolton a greener environment was also celebrated, with Bolton Green Umbrella and James Clarke at Friends of Moses Gate all receiving awards for work on reducing climate change and maintaining a clean environment. Valery Touchet was also awarded a star for teaching people to learn how to sew and repair clothes and save them from landfill.

People who made Bolton a more inclusive environment were also celebrated, such as Kerry Wallwork, 22, who volunteers for the WAVE adventure hub to help more people with learning disabilities get involved in outdoor activities such as cycling.

On top of Kerry, the WAVE club itself achieved a community star for its work using outdoor activities as alternate therapies and ways for local people to make friends and be more active.

Other awards went to David Ruane for his outstanding achievement in overcoming personal challenges to become a leading volunteer, to Amina Ali who has restarted her life in Bolton and now works to support women in refuge, and couple Gary and Michele O’Brian for tackling antisocial behaviour in their local community.

Jon Lord is our Group Chief Executive Officer. Jon said: “It’s phenomenal to see just how many selfless people there are who live to make our communities better by supporting their neighbours to stay safe, be healthier or make friends. Volunteers make our towns better and special places to live in.”

Ian Munro, Chair of our Group Board, added: “Amazing things in our communities don’t happen by accident. They happen because everyday heroes get up and do amazing things.”


More information about our stars of the community award winners


Climate change star

Bolton Green Umbrella, which supports community groups to make the town cleaner and greener, and has provided £26,000 of funding to litter picking, conservation, and garden groups.

Barb Hackett, who lives in Tonge Moor, from Bolton Green Umbrella, said: “It’s just about making people aware of what is going on in their town and building a network. The idea of the umbrella is making people aware of what other people and groups are doing, because being with other like-minded people is a huge inspiration.

“By more of us getting involved we can bring more pressure to bear and awareness of all the issues. It’s brilliant for the community, for people’s physical and mental health and it just makes you feel better while we make our town a cleaner, greener place.”


Community star

WAVE Adventure Group, based in Breightmet, was awarded the community star for its support helping people to stay active during the lockdown, providing people with free bikes and running groups including climbing, kayaking and mountain biking.

Graham Wood from WAVE said: “We’ve been going for about 20 years now, working with a range of people from children to adults, women’s groups and those with learning disabilities. We felt that there were other ways than the NHS that people could access therapy. It doesn’t have to be in a small, enclosed room but if we tap into people’s passions then we can tap into their self-esteem.

“Green exercise is so beneficial - we talk about having a flow and not having distressing thoughts and you can achieve that through some of these activities.”


Sparkling environment star

James Clarke, Friends of Moses Gate, who works to keep the local area clean, litter picking and planting locally for the neighbourhood to enjoy.

James said: “I love my volunteering, because the feedback you get off the community is all worthwhile. This is a place I’ve lived all my life so it’s rewarding to give back and that is why I do it. We’re just a small cog in a big wheel – it’s not just about me, it’s about the whole community.”


Health and wellbeing star

Bolton Manbassadors aims to support the male community of a town where 75 per cent of people who take their own lives are men. The organisation has engaged 23 local businesses to act as men’s mental health advocates who can look out for signs of deteriorating mental health and support them.

So far, hundreds of men have engaged with the support available.

Alexander Matvienko from Elite Boxing on Wordsworth Street in Halliwell, is one of the local Manbassadors. He said: “We lost one our coaches previously to taking his own life so we’ve started Ricky’s Club where we sit in a circle and listen to each other.

“Men don’t like showing a weakness and we can act as though we’re too tough and resilient to have problems, but really there can be a problem and they just don’t want to speak about it.

“Manbassadors acts like a beacon which shines a light on mental health and shows the way to services and people who can help. If we can help anybody then we will do so.”


Outstanding achievement star

David Ruane from Halliwell has faced countless challenges over the last ten years, from losing his father, to becoming a carer for both his mother and wife. Despite this, he volunteered to sort and pack food at Urban Outreach and volunteered to be a vaccinator during the pandemic. David is Chair of Bolton Carers Support and his local history walks around the town also help more people to get outside and learn about their hometown.

David said: “It’s just over nine years ago since my wife turned ill. It was obvious to everybody that I was struggling and needed some help. Thankfully, that help set me on my path to volunteering but it gave me a sense of identity and self-worth. My volunteering is actually quite selfish, because I get a lot out of it which helps me as well as benefitting others.”


Spirit of youth star

Kerry Wallwork, 22, was awarded the spirit of youth star for her work volunteering for the WAVE bike hub based in Breightmet and runs weekly outdoor activity courses for people with learning disabilities of all ages, which involve cycling, hiking and other outdoor pursuits designed to create friendship groups.

Kerry said: “I always want to give young people opportunities because they deserve it. Biking is a passion I have anyway so doing that with other people is just ideal. If somebody is struggling, rather than just ignoring it, we see if we can help, because we often can. Community for me is about being a family and accepting people for how they are.”


Personal achievement star

After moving to Bolton only a few years ago, Amina Ali joined the Cotton Queens Club at Slaterfield to meet new friends, putting on live performances related to the town’s heritage. Amina, who lives in Great Lever, has also engaged in a university degree and continues to work in a women’s refuge centre, earning her the community star.

Amina said: “I’m very proud of what I’ve done and my achievements, but I also know that it is a community achievement – I didn’t do it on my own.”


Arcon community star

Valery Touchet was awarded the Arcon community star for her work in helping the local community in Gorton to learn how to fix and make their own clothes, creating clothes swaps to become more sustainable while teaching her members a valuable skill and making friends.

Valery said: “It takes 500 years for a piece of garment to destroy underground so that’s why I brought the idea of clothes swap and giving people sewing skills so they can alter their own clothes at home and help the community and the environment we live in by wearing clothes again and again and swap between ourselves.

“I’ll be proud of myself if somebody says that they learned to hem a trouser of skirt because of me. I just want to share my skills with the people I love in Gorton.”

Bolton at Home Group comprises Bolton at Home and Arcon Housing Association, both registered providers and charitable Community Benefit Societies.


Taking a stand star

Gary and Michele O’Brian from Great Lever have taken a stand against antisocial behaviour in their local neighbourhood.

Gary said: “I’ve lived in this house for 30 years and we’ve been doing what we can for the community, with the community. Everybody was keeping away from our area because people were coming late at night and dealing drugs, but we decided to take a stand. Soon they realised we were watching and reporting, and they decided to move on and not come back.

“I feel good about our work – we are achieving what we set out to achieve. You can’t cure the world’s ills in one day so start one street at a time.”


Lifetime achievement award

Melanie Livesey, member of the Grosvenor Estate Resident Association based on Roosevelt Road in Kearsley, took home the lifetime achievement star for her 27 years of work with local communities.

Melanie said: “There’s nothing nicer than putting back into your community and giving back when you can. I look back at all the events and all the good that people have done, from giving their shoes to homeless people on the street or people who cook every week for so many people.

“You don’t do this work for an award, you do it for the cause. We’ll carry on doing what we’re doing. The only way we’ll stop is if we’re in a wooden box because we want to see this estate thrive.”


More information about those highly commended


Climate change star category

Groundbreakers, a community initiative in Farnworth, helps to keep the Flower Estate green, from clearing litter and mowing gardens for people who are unable, to deliver food parcels at Christmas to people who are vulnerable. For this work they were awarded a climate change star.


Community star category

The Congolese Women’s Group in Johnson Fold aims to integrate its local community more into local life. As well as bonding as a closer community to support each other, they are also getting involved with local services to improve their English and help their children learn about Congolese and English culture, while also improving the health of their members and sharing their culture with the local community.


Sparkling environment star category

Sabden Growers are volunteers in Johnson Fold who run neighbourhood food growing projects and produce for the local area. They run a range of activities throughout the year for individuals and families to get involved with and gain new experiences from such as harvesting, planting, woodworking, arts and crafts, and community events.


Health and wellbeing star category

Transforming Lives Group is based in Farnworth and hosts free meet and eat sessions to encourage all members of the community to socialise, share stories and make friends, resulting in a range of health benefits to people’s physical and mental health.


Outstanding achievement star category

Pauline Gardner, a vital member of the community at Hall i’ th’ Wood and at Greenway Community Centre. A retired foster carer, Pauline supported the local community through lockdown, making sure that her neighbours were safe and well, before continuing to run activities locally such as at the Wonder Woman Group and Over 50s Club.  


Spirit of youth star category

Jessica Green-Howard, 24, who experienced homelessness at just 16 years old, has now gone on to complete a university degree and found employment and independence, supporting other young people who find themselves in need of homelessness support. 


Personal achievement star category

David Donohue, from Tonge Moor was awarded the personal achievement star after a phenomenal 12 months which saw him come off benefits, complete training to find work and become a minibus driver, along with supporting the Tonge Moor Men in Sheds initiative to become its new chair.


Arcon community star category

The Gorton Craft and Wellbeing Group is a weekly art project for women, where members support each other to express themselves through painting, jewellery making, photography and other craft pursuits, culminating in a range of showcases earlier in the year.


Many thanks to our awards’ sponsors

AGR, Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, Caddick Construction, Creative Pink Ltd, Gallagher, Glendale, Graham’s Plumbers Merchants, J.G. Redfords, Lane End, Pestokill, Seddon, Service Master, Structec NW, Tyson Construction.


Well done to everyone who was nominated and congratulations to those highly commended or awarded first place in the different categories.

You can see more on Facebook and Twitter and get involved using the hashtag #SOTCA22

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Latest TAP4 issue

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Our latest issue of TAP4 (issue 8) has landed and you can read it by clicking here.

In this issue:

  • Friendly faces in familiar places - Bolton Manbassadors
  • Tips from Tom to help with rising energy costs
  • Be aware of doorstep fraudsters
  • Your home repairs - we're getting back on track
  • Introducing Aptem
  • How we're improving our complaints system
  • Support for Bolton's street homeless - Hope for Change
  • A fresh start - giving support to people leaving hospital
  • Our staff talk you through Air Source Heat Pumps
  • "Money Advice has been an absolute lifelife"
  • Recognise your community heroes - Stars of the Community Awards 2022
  • Providing opportunities for young people

Your latest Quarter Turn issue

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Your latest Quarter Turn issue:

Quarter-Turn-issue 9-[pdf]-6MB

Each quarter, we send our printed Quarter Turn magazine to 4,800 customers living in our sheltered and extra care schemes, those receiving Careline and living in our general let and over 70s in our general let.