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Skelmersdale homeless and housing charity wins national award for excellence

Photograph shows (l-r): Stella Connell – CEO, Gail Godson – Trustee

A Skelmersdale charity that provides support and accommodation for vulnerable young people who are homeless or in housing need has won a prestigious national award.


The Birchwood Centre has beaten more than 350 organisations from all over the UK to be one of the eight winners of the 2018 GSK IMPACT Awards, a national award that recognises charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health and wellbeing. The charity will receive £30,000 in funding as part of its prize, as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund.


The Birchwood Centre provides supported accommodation, advice and mediation, as well as training and employability programmes and counselling services to 13 to 25 year olds who have complex challenges and lifestyles.


Its work is having a positive impact in Skelmersdale and is helping to prevent homelessness, and last year two-thirds of those using its mediation services to resolve family conflicts were able to stay with their family.


The charity has an innovative approach, for example by establishing its Junk Food Café, which uses food donated by local supermarkets that is close to its sell-by date and its Therapeutic Residential Support Unit which provides short stay beds for people with mental health problems who are ready to be discharged from hospital but still need support. This approach has been piloted with the NHS and is now due to expand.


Lisa Weaks, Head of Third Sector at The King’s Fund, said: ‘The Birchwood Centre is doing fantastic work that is having a real impact in supporting vulnerable young people who are either homeless or in housing need.


‘The judging panel was particularly impressed by the way the charity is always looking for new ways to better support young people, as well as the excellent working relationships it has established with the local statutory sector. An example is the Therapeutic Residential Support Unit it has run with the NHS to support people with mental health problems and its plans to expand its residential services.’


Stella Connell, Chief Executive of the Birchwood Centre, said: ‘We are delighted to have received a GSK IMPACT Award, as it is recognition of the quality of the work we are doing in supporting people who are homeless or in housing need.


‘We’re excited to have the chance to work with GSK and The King’s Fund over the months and years ahead, and we hope the award will be a platform for taking us to the next level of being able to support those who need us.’


Developing leaders in the charity sector is an important aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme, which has now been running for more than 20 years, and the Birchwood Centre will have access to training and leadership development tailored to its needs. It will also be invited to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a national network of almost 80 award-winning health and wellbeing charities working together to develop their leaders, find new ways of working, and support others.


The Birchwood Centre received its award at a ceremony held at the Science Museum in London on 17 May 2018, along with seven other GSK IMPACT Award winners.

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