A charity that provides services for young people in Tower Hamlets has won £25,000 for its outstanding contribution to improving healthcare.
Step Forward was among 10 winners who beat off 400 entrants at the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) IMPACT awards , run in partnership with The King’s Fund, a health think-tank.
The awards highlight the crucial role played by the voluntary sector in meeting health needs in deprived and vulnerable communities.
Tower Hamlets is the most densely populated borough in London, with the worst housing in the country and the third highest level of child poverty. Its young population make up 35% of the total population of the borough.
The charity, based on Bethnal Green Road, provides personal and practical support for young people aged 11-25 through bullying support, health and housing advice, a sexual health clinic and career advice. It aims to reflect the local community and 40% of its service users are from the Bangladeshi community.
Jennifer Fear, chief executive of Step Forward said: “ This award comes at a time when resources are being stretched for the voluntary sector across the country. Without the money, we would have had difficulties in maintaining the provision of services, but the great thing about this award is that it gives us unrestricted funding.”
Funding for charities is often restricted, meaning that it can only be used for a certain project, even if funding for another purpose is desperately needed. Step Forward’s £25,000 will be available for any purpose and the charity hopes to use it to maintain and adapt its services.
Fear added: “To stand out amongst 400 entrants is a real achievement for us, especially as we are quite a small organisation. The award is like a kitemark for us.”
The charity, whose patron is Sir Ian McKellen, employs six staff along with a team of volunteers. They also operate in partnership with local doctors and health advisors who help them run the sexual health clinic.
Many voluntary sector organisations are having their funding cut by central government and local authorities, despite their integral role in the coalition’s Big Society vision.
Earlier this week, Radio 4 revealed the plight of the Tower Hamlets homelessness charity, Providence Row, which did not know what funding it would receive from Tower Hamlets council after April 1.
Katie Pinnock, GlaxoSmithKline’s director of UK Corporate Contribution said: “The IMPACT Awards programme not only helps provide unrestricted funding to charities that have shown outstanding innovation, but serves to highlight the vital role that charities play in providing community healthcare.”
She added: “We are always amazed at the amount of support these organisations are able to provide within their communities and they are truly to be commended for their invaluable work.”
The winners cover a broad range of work, including a charity in Kent working with GPs to improve diagnosis of dementia, Foyle Haven in Northern Ireland which gives support for street drinkers and Body and Soul which supports families and individuals affected by HIV.
One overall winner, to be announced on May 12, will receive an additional £10,000 for their work.