London Health Commission announces winners of community action for health and well-being awards

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The winners of the London Health Commission Awards were announced last night at City Hall. The winners were all small community-based organisations.

Selected from over 90 applications from across the capital, the five winners included a dance group, an organisation that assists lupus sufferers, a project that gets people involved in their local community, a group that works with isolated individuals and a collective that uses music and the creative arts to work with disabled people. The prizes were awarded for each projects' contribution to health and well-bring in their local area.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said, "These awards recognise the excellent work happening across London at a local level that too often goes unnoticed - I'd like to extend my congratulations to the winners for their brilliant projects. Finding ways to get people to look after their own health and well being is vital if we are going to have an impact on reducing health inequalities across London. I look forward to working closely with the voluntary and community sector and the London Health Commission to deliver my Health Inequalities Strategy."

The five category winners were:

Myatt's Field North Youth Forum (MFNYF) - Borough of Lambeth - (winner of the Cohesive Communities category)

The MFNYF were successful in this category that rewards activities that brings different communities or people together in achieving a common goal. They promote and encourage the young people on the Myatt's Field North Estate to be more active and participate positively on the Estate.

Denise Rutherford, Voluntary Outreach Youth Worker, said: "Winning this award is a significant achievement and it is testament to all the young people involved in the project. Their views have helped to shape a community of young people with shared interests and aspirations which helps to significantly improve their confidence and self-esteem."

Joy of Sound - Borough of Lambeth - (winner of the Mental well-being category)

This category rewards activities that either improves people's confidence or reduces their levels of stress, worry or depression. Joy of Sound addresses the difficulty encountered by people with severe disabilities in accessing music and creative activities.

Will Longden: "The Joy of Sound recognises the creative input of all participants, service users, students, carers, staff members, and volunteers at its centre. The award recognises the eight years of voluntary input which Joy of Sound has given to London. To be honoured in this way, together with other such incredibly inspiring projects, is a great achievement. We now look forward with renewed enthusiasm to developing and improving the work we do."

Rushey Green Time Bank - Borough of Lewisham - (winner of the Partnership achievement with the NHS category)

Rushey Green Time Bank were rewarded for their activities that bring communities together to work with NHS staff to improve health and well-being. The Time Bank seeks to alleviate isolation and raise wellbeing in an area of social and health need.

Philippe Granger, Development Manager, said: "This is real recognition of the difference that people can make when working together and sharing skills. The Time Bank Initiative isn't about delivering a service, it is about people helping each other. The transformational impact of the project in terms of creating a sense of belonging and community has delivered real physical and mental health benefits."

Combination Dance Company - Borough of Richmond (winner of the Partnership achievement with local government category)

The Combination Dance Company won the award for bringing communities together to work with local councils. This group works with young people and their families who live or study in one of the borough's most deprived wards and as such would not normally have access to leisure and arts projects due to poverty and lack of opportunities. In the year from April 2007 to April 2008, over 2,000 local people benefited from the project.

Anne-Marie Smalldon, Artistic Director, said: "It is so important to recognise the contribution that dance can make to community health. It brings communities together and is an excellent way to improve fitness and well-being. The award will allow us to increase awareness of Combination Dance projects and get more people dancing."

Educational Alliance Africa - Borough of Southwark (winner of the Community campaigning and advocacy category)

This group, which assists lupus sufferers in the UK, were rewarded for their activity in raising awareness of this issue among a wide audience. There are 30,000 lupus sufferers in the UK of which two-thirds live in London. A large majority of the sufferers are African / Caribbean women, but due to the fact that they face two major inequality factors - ethnicity and gender - it does not receive the recognition and support it should.

Yvonne Robinson-Smith, Founder, said: "It is a major achievement us as we have for many years been trying to raise awareness of Lupus in communities affected. Our objective is to make people more aware of this condition and empower those with it to reach their true potential and not become isolated and despondent. We want to open a walk-in centre where people with Lupus can feel supported and motivated. This award will help us to realise this goal."

In announcing the winners Elizabeth Manero, Chair of the London Health Commission's Community Development Forum and Director of Health Link said, "The five successful groups illustrate the incredible contribution made by London's voluntary and community sector. The winners range from organisations which encourage creativity in combating depression, to a community project which encourages greater participation in their community to a group which assists lupus sufferers. The Awards reveal there is a wealth of positive and inspirational work being done at a community level by many grass root organisations. All community-based groups with small budgets need to be continually supported, encouraged and recognised for their invaluable contributions to society."

All winners will receive prizes including training, support with website development and maintenance and a promotional film about their project as well as a prize of £1,000. Details of all those that entered will be included in a new Pan-London Community Group Directory and those short listed will be able to showcase their work in City Hall. The package of prizes was developed following consultation with community groups about what would they value most.

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