Meet our finalists – Making a Difference Award

February 5, 2021

Our finalists in this category are making changes that have a major impact on the people they support and the staff who work with them. Here, we find out more about them and the work they are doing.

Kaye Wright, Chair, Friends of Dorset Care Leavers

Friends of Dorset Care Leavers has fundamentally changed the local support network available for care leavers. Kaye’s enthusiasm and personal commitment has meant that, financially and organisationally, something sustainable has been formed that can be taken forward by others, in particular young, care-experienced people themselves.

What made you want to enter the awards?

We were nominated by someone outside of the organisation. We agreed to be nominated as we felt it would be real recognition of grassroots charity work. People having a bit of spare time to make a difference to someone else’s life, with a shared passion for the cause.

‘Small’ doesn’t have to mean small impact.

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

Really shocked and overwhelmed. Especially after all the extra efforts everyone put in through the pandemic and lockdown. It felt like it was a firm nod to us, of what we have been doing. It was pretty emotional. We are a tiny fish in a big pond.

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

I guess it acknowledges that other people can see the importance of what we do and that gives us a nice glow inside!

There were some really big organisations nominated and it’s lovely to feel appreciated and recognised and gives us the encouragement to keep going and making improvements to what we do.

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

We had to take everything online and buy a subscription to an online platform to allow us to have a secure space to meet. We also had to quickly get our website organised so that we could advertise events and further bought a web address and access to a platform. We learnt how to do all this at speed and put a lot of hours into setting it up.

Rather than organising activities for young people to do, we have been arranging quiz nights, bingo, giveaways and opportunities to learn new things. I feel that we have adapted pretty well, but by not having the face-to-face contact that we normally would, there are some young people who don’t join in with the online options as it is not for them. Young people often need a ‘blended’ way of engagement and I’m concerned they are fatigued now, with all the online options in their lives. It’s hard to keep things lively and buzzing.  It’s also a big challenge to dig deep when we are also fatigued, to hop online and keep them from being isolated and lonely.

Piotr Rejek, Chief Executive, Outlook Care

When the pandemic hit, Piotr ensured all of Outlook Care’s customers remained calm, felt cared for and supported, and were able to look to the future with enthusiasm. He’s had to make tough business decisions, but he’s refused to compromise on the quality of care. The result is that Outlook Care pays frontline staff a competitive salary, which has helped the organisation retain good staff and continue to deliver first-class care and support.

Karolina Gerlich, Executive Director, The Care Workers’ Charity

Karolina continues to carry out care visits despite being an Executive Director of the Care Workers’ Charity and sitting on advisory boards for other charities. She advocates for the rights of care workers and, in three months of leading the charity, raised over £2m for the COVID-19 Emergency Fund alone. She has introduced grants streams that have enabled carers to get the financial support they need.

The Making a Difference Award was kindly sponsored by Markel

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