Meet our finalists – Leadership Award

January 27, 2021

Want to find out more about the people who have what it takes to be finalists in our Leadership category? Here, three impressive members of the social care community share their thoughts and feelings on being finalists for this award.

Karolina Gerlich, Chief Executive, The Care Workers’ Charity

Put simply, The Care Workers’ Charity supports the social care workforce, particularly with crisis grants. This includes people who have been involved in residential social care, homecare, supported living care or day care.


Paul Bott, Chief Executive, SJOG

St John of God Hospitaller Services (SJOG) aims to provide people with the skills and the support to gain control of their own lives.

What made you want to enter the awards?

I was nominated by one of my colleagues at SJOG, so the decision to enter was not mine. I’m very glad that I was nominated though!

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

I was surprised and very pleased.

There is real strength within the third sector and within the care sector, really impressive work around the country, so it’s great to be a finalist, particularly alongside great people like Sara Costa and Karolina Gerlich.

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

It means that I’m lucky to be working with brilliant people.

There’s been concentrated hard work across the charity to turn SJOG around, and to save this 140-year-old charity, and that’s what I think is being recognised here.

What is great about being a finalist is that there is a spotlight shone on the good work going on at SJOG and I’m hopeful that this will mean that we can build more partnerships to be of even more support to more people in the year ahead.

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

There have been some changes. Services have continued to deliver outstanding levels of support and care, though there are a lot more masks and hand sanitisers in services than previously!

We already had good IT across the charity, but the use of this technology has increased dramatically. We’ve also put more technology in the hands of the people we support, which means that we can offer both face-to-face and remote support. Though we’ve embraced technology, at our heart we are a charity where people support people, so we’ve worked hard to keep our colleagues safe and manage increased anxieties.

We haven’t stood still or bunkered down. We’ve continued to pursue our purpose and have opened seven new services during lockdown.

Colleagues have been magnificent, continuing to support people in homes and in the community when the rest of the nation were staying at home. They’ve all been brilliant at supporting others and it’s been really important that we support them.

Sara Costa, Quality & Customer Relations Manager, Outlook Care

Established in 1989, Outlook Care delivers services across north and east London and Essex, including community-based support, supported living services, residential care and housing management.

What made you want to enter the awards?

I was nominated by managers after receiving feedback from customers and staff. They felt I had really made a difference to them in dark times and I was so touched that this was coming from the people we support too.

Running my Smiling is Infectious project through lockdown was one of the best times I had ever had at work – certainly the most rewarding.

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

I couldn’t believe it when I found out I was a finalist! I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling! I ran a project called Smiling is Infectious so that was really appropriate! What an amazing thing.

I’ve never had anything like this happen before and I’m just so grateful. I still think it’s unbelievable!

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

I am truly honoured and amazed to be a finalist, especially when I think of all the wonderful people working in the care sector and how every single one of them has gone above and beyond this year.

I feel a little embarrassed that I have been selected but am so grateful for this on behalf of all our wonderful customers at Outlook Care and our super staff. It has given us all a boost.

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

My challenge, when everyone was being isolated, was how to engage all our customers and staff together and build momentum to create a vibrant inclusive community.

I wanted to take the pressure off managers and empower our brilliant staff to facilitate as much fun as possible into every single day so that no body was bored, lonely or isolated.

A spirit of ‘we are all in this together’ was born to connect customers, services and staff across the organisation. I am so proud of everyone. We can’t wait for the party when this is all finally over!

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