Colleagues at independent healthcare provider Care UK have been praised by judges at an awards ceremony celebrating the commitment of those who support hundreds of people living with complex mental health conditions.
The Care UK Mental Health Awards gave colleagues, service users and their families the chance to nominate the people who they felt had gone the extra mile or shown innovation in their work. The judges commented that the quality of nominations for the seven award categories was “very impressive” and that “choosing the winners was an exceptionally difficult decision”.
Care UK chief executive Mike Parish was joined by Dr Alison Rose-Quirie, managing director of Care UK’s Mental Health division, to present each winner with their award and prize. Alison said: “Each year we look for examples of support or initiatives that help to improve our service users’ experiences. We were not disappointed; every nomination we received demonstrated the dedication and pride that our people have in their work.
“This year, our service users were included in the nominations for the tremendous work they have done to support and train both our team and other service users. I am extremely proud of each and every one of those nominated.”
This year’s Chef of the Year Award was won by Claire Taylor from Newcombe Lodge in Stroud. After competing in a regional heat she was invited to test her culinary skills against two other finalists. Claire’s winning menu featured spiced risotto cakes with cherry tomatoes, green beans and broccoli for main course and a pear, chocolate and hazelnut flan for dessert. On the judging panel was a top chef from Unilever and a service user from Care UK’s Tariro House. They commented that her creations had “excellent texture”, a “lovely combination of flavours” and “good presentation”.
Robert Whitaker, who is responsible for maintenance at Park Villa in Macclesfield, was presented with the Support Services Champion of the Year Award for his approach to tackling any problem thrown at him and ability to think outside the box. His commitment to health and safety was also praised alongside his work with contractors to ensure the efficient use of resources. In their nomination the team at Park Villa described Robert as “a much loved asset who is trusted and respected – we don’t know what we would do without him”.
There was an award too for Dominika Kostrzewska, recovery and rehabilitation manager at Evergreen Lodge in South Croydon. She was presented with the Recovery Champion of the Year Award for being instrumental in promoting recovery and encouraging independence among service users. The judges were especially impressed with her devotion to helping service users become involved with projects they have a personal interest in.
Nicola Marper, a service user in Manchester, picked up the Volunteer of the Year Award. Since becoming a service user representative Nicola has shown how much of a fabulous role model she is by supporting colleagues and service users and helping to deepen their understanding of recovery and mental health. The team where she lives commented that Nicola is “very well liked and always happy to share her knowledge and experience”.
The Recovery Training Team, which includes colleagues and service users from across Care UK’s Mental Health division, was presented with the Team Achievement of the Year Award. Brought together to deliver recovery training throughout the division, they’ve worked tirelessly to ensure there’s an understanding of the importance of working in partnership with service users.
Alison Philips, a learning and development manager responsible for overseeing the team, said: “They have so much enthusiasm and motivation in pushing forward with recovery focused approaches. The team genuinely wants to make our services a place where people can believe in and achieve their goals, dreams and aspirations.”
The Individual Achievement of the Year Award was presented to Ushe Gumbo, a chef at Riverbank in Hull. Ushe was described as the “hero of Riverbank” and “an asset to our team” for the quality of his catering at the supported living service.
And finally, the MD (Managing Director’s) Award was presented to John Russell, a recovery support worker at Rosebank House in Reading. John, who has cerebral palsy, has overcome many challenges in his own life and is described as “a truly inspirational” person. He’s a toastmaster and has also taken part in a number of half marathons, as well as a skydive, to raise money for charity. John received this award for his exemplary attitude and ethos towards helping his colleagues and service users at Rosebank House.