8 amazing people who have won Stephenson Awards

Posted by / Tuesday 22 November 2016 / Events
Paola Marks and Jane Weeks

The Stephenson Awards is our annual ceremony to recognise the remarkable people who are part of our charity. We celebrate the people who go the extra mile to support children, young people and families.

These awards are named after our founder - Methodist Minster Thomas Bowman Stephenson. In 1869, Stephenson moved with his family from Bolton to London and was shocked at seeing so many abandoned children living on the streets near his London chapel, so he took swift action. In just 3 months, his children's home came into existence and the first boys, Fred and George, were taken off the street into what would become the National Children’s Home (NCH) and later, Action for Children.

Group-of-children

The Stephenson Awards celebrate people like Colin and Marie.

They were one of the first approved foster carers in Northern Ireland. They currently foster 3 young people, every day ensuring that each child is happy, safe and secure. Their children, including 16 year old Ben* nominated them for a Stephenson Award in 2015.

He said “I can’t imagine a life without them, their never ending love has kept me going from the very start, all of us for that matter. They say a lot of mottos but the one that sticks out the most is: 'anyone that comes through that door becomes family and we make a commitment to look after them. No matter what happens'. We love them and they love us.”

*name changed 

We want to celebrate our supporters, volunteers, foster carers, adoptive parents and staff members for their work with the children, young people and families we support.

Nominate someone for a Stephenson Award

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It’s not just foster carers, you can nominate adoptive parents people like Waleed and Nahila who adopted 2 very lively boys a couple of years ago. The boys both have a chronic life-long health condition which means lots of medical appointments and an annual check up at their local children's hospital. Waleed and Nahila were nominated for a Stephenson Award in 2015 because they did an amazing job of putting the boys’ needs first, creating a home of stability and security. They had to keep their extended family away from the boys for over 6 months which was hard for their large, close knit family, all of them excited at the prospect of adoptive children joining the family. But they did it.

They now also support others through the adoption process; they have spoken several times at introductory evenings for people considering adoption and they willing keep in touch with people as they go through the process.

George Epsworth

George works with Moving On Scotland with young offenders who can be difficult to engage, lead challenging lifestyles and require infinite patience, which George has in endless supply.  He is passionate about advocating on their behalf, understands the difficulties they have faced and works hard to ensure they have the same opportunities as others and become successful in their journey.

Janine, one of those who nominated George said “I have witnessed him sit for hours at court to support a young person, make numerous visits to food banks to ensure some of our young people have food to eat (benefit sanctions take their toll and many of our young people would go hungry without food banks), or drive for 40 minutes to a young person's address because he can't get hold of them on the phone for a period of time and is concerned about their wellbeing.

Paola Marks and Jane Weeks

Paola nominated Jane for a Stephenson Award in 2015. "I first met Jane when I was 12. And over 25 years later Jane is still in my life.

I'd been taken into a local children’s home. I felt frightened and very alone. But I clearly remember meeting Jane. She was my social worker and she stayed with me through my teenage years as I went back and forth between my family home and care.

Jane was always there for me. 

She found me good foster parents, and when I rebelled and kept running away (I was a teenager!), Jane explained to them why it was happening. She found me a counsellor and she took me out when I needed space. At 16 I moved away, I guess I was trying to escape the place I grew up, I wanted anonymity. So Jane travelled over several times to where I was living to make sure I was safe and happy. I'm a college lecturer now and I still go to Jane if I needed help or advice as I have always done from the age of 12. Jane tells people i am her success story. I tell people I am not sure I would be alive to be a success without her."

Heather and Kelvin Bland

Heather and Kelvin are volunteers at Dorset Nightstop. This is an emergency accommodation service for homeless, vulnerable young people aged 16-25. They open up their home allowing young people to stay for a few days. While local services look for a long-term solution, Heather and Kelvin give each young person a safe, secure and loving family.

They were key to keeping a homeless young man, who'd been sleeping rough and sofa surfing for over 2 years, off the streets. One minute he was wet and cold, trying to sleep in a broken, flooded tent. The next, he was drinking tea in front of a wood burning stove, having a bath and a hot meal, with his damp clothes in a washing machine. He told us that he'd had the best night’s sleep in 2 years at Heather and Kelvin's house.

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