Meet our finalists – Campaigning for Change Award

January 25, 2021

Find out more about the shortlisted candidates in the Campaigning for Change category this year. They discuss the things that made them enter the Awards and the ways they’ve had to adapt in the last year.

Aspens Charities, #CareForTheCarers Campaign

Aspens helps children, young people and adults with a range of disabilities and complex needs, as well as those on the autism spectrum. Offering highly personalised support, the organisation aims to enable people to learn new skills, live life to the full and contribute to society.

What made you want to enter the awards?

We entered the awards for a couple of reasons. We are passionate about sharing the story of Aspens and in particular the stories of the people we care for. This has been especially critical this year during the pandemic, as so much research shows that people with autism and learning disabilities are some of those hit hardest by COVID-19.

We also entered as a way of rewarding our team’s exceptional work caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, during a very tough year.

It was motivating to compile the application and reflect on our work, and even more exciting to be shortlisted!

How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?

I can honestly say we were so excited and proud to have made the final shortlist! Getting this far has already helped us all recognise and acknowledge our success.

We have communicated and celebrated with staff and trustees and with our wider audiences – through social media, updating our email footers and through word of mouth with the people we support and with their families.

What does it mean to you to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards?

In a sentence – it has given us the confidence to celebrate and recognise the quality of our work.

Being recognised in this way supports all our efforts to date and motivates us to continue striving to provide the best service possible to those we support.

It has been wonderful for our team to feel that all their hard work throughout this extremely challenging year has been recognised in this very public and prestigious way.

How have you had to adapt your services for COVID-19?

We have had to make many changes to our work in 2020 in response to COVID-19. In some instances, this meant the immediate closure of services as the country went into lockdown. It also meant the closure of our retail shops and café and our planned fundraising activities.

As 2020 progressed, the focus moved onto adaptation – moving services online, ensuring our physical services were COVID-secure and supporting our staff and the people we support to cope with these challenges.

Intergenerational Music Making – Care to Create

A pioneer of intergenerational music projects, Intergenerational Music Making(IMM) is the UK’s first intergenerational music therapy CIC, connecting and bringing together generations in their local communities through music therapy projects.

What made you want to enter the awards?

We are interested in projects that challenge hierarchy and convention, shed light on the overlooked, and create spaces for new conversations and otherwise marginalised voices. We strive to adopt holistic approaches, nurturing the individual, intergenerational relationships, the carer, family and community through the power of music.

Our work is centred around connection and community, working with those living with dementia, those who are experiencing mental health issues, loneliness and isolation and those socially and economically deprived. Through the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards we are able to share our story, raise the voices of generations and encourage awareness and understanding around intergenerational music practice.

We believe everyone should have the chance to live life to the full. Everyone has the ability to respond to music, to explore and develop in the music. Our work aims to bridge the gap between generations, creating stronger, more resilient communities whilst improving the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of both the young and the old.

How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?

The news of us being a finalist provided the team with some much-needed light and joy!

We are all so incredibly passionate about IMM, so to receive the acknowledgement from the panel that our work is important is truly special!

The past nine months have been extremely challenging for everyone. With so much loss, separation, isolation and uncertainty, it can be hard to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. Music has acted as a crutch for so many of us – to invite and empower new voices, to understand personal feelings and emotions and to remind us of positive moments with the people we love the most.

We believe that music will be the essential ingredient in how we heal and rehabilitate, both individually and as a community. We are determined to help mitigate the impacts on the nation’s wellbeing, improve the lives of those living with dementia and mental health concerns, and to harness the power of strong creative connections for the future.

Individuals and their stories must be heard, exchanged and recognised. It’s through stories, whether factual or imaginary, that people tell us who they are, where they’ve come from and where they dream of going next.

What does it mean to you to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards?

We are honoured to be a finalist in the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards. To be acknowledged and recognised for the innovative and vital work we deliver is incredible.

For many years we have been working across the health, care, education and community sectors. At the heart of IMM is music, paired with incredible partnerships, fuelled by passionate people and their remarkable stories. Music is the vessel in which culture and heritage can be shared, understood and respected.

We want to encourage creative intergenerational communities, support and nurture intergenerational relationships, and provide quality artistic access for those with dementia, families and carers. We will only achieve this through an interdisciplinary team approach, one that gives people more say about the care and the support they receive.

We want to pioneer an improved and new collaborative community where people, families, professionals and researchers are working together to improve an ageing population and the demand this brings with it through music.

What’s been your greatest challenge in the last year?

Due to COVID-19 we were unable to continue our intergenerational projects and feared that this time away from our clients could have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.

Our response to the pandemic drew on the digital and non-digital, virtual and tangible. We used creative ways to support health and tackle isolation, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing for all generations, whilst creating cohesive, artistic communities.

This time of distance and separation has made our work even more vital. Over the course of the pandemic, it has been extremely distressing to have witnessed a dramatic deterioration in the dementia symptoms and mental health of some of our clients. We have also seen trends in increased mental health concerns and feelings of loneliness from those over 70 living in care homes, those shielding or isolated without family, and, in young people between the ages of ten and 18, the number of referrals has doubled.

We seized this time of interruption to rebuild and tell a different story. Early on, we realised it was vital to engage and empower communities as equal partners in creating and maintaining their health and wellbeing. Social isolation and loneliness are nothing new to our organisation but, now more than ever, we believe the arts possess transformative power, bringing people together in ways we could not have foreseen.


This year we will be revealing our winners at a Virtual Ceremony on Friday 12th February. We’d love for you to join us. Sign up to attend the event here.

 You can also keep up to date with all the latest on this year’s finalists on social media #3rdSectorCareAwards @3rdSectorCare