Community champions dominate new year honours list

Charity fundraisers and volunteers supporting refugees among those recognised for their contribution

The theme of public service is at the forefront of the new year honours list, with the majority of those receiving awards nominated for their work in their local communities.

Tricia Ward-Jones, 69, from Shropshire, receives the British empire medal (BEM) after 17 years as a volunteer fundraiser for Promise Dreams, a charity based in Wolverhampton, which helps the families of children who are seriously or terminally ill create memories.

She said: “We are a tiny organisation and I am very proud of how we have managed to fulfil dreams for families of terminally ill children.”

One of her favourite dreams was for “a very poor family” who wanted a family portrait before their child died and later told her: “You cannot believe the difference it makes. And that child now lives with us on the wall.”

Ben Lindsay, 44, the chief executive of Power the Fight, an award-winning charity in south London that tackles violence affecting young people, is made an OBE.

He said the charity creates solutions for sustainable change and acts as a link between the community and policymakers. Lindsay founded it after the death of a 16-year-old he knew.

Power the Fight supports those facing the issue of youth violence, by offering therapeutic support in schools, through to teachers, police officers and NHS staff. “We also support families who have lost young people to violence,” he said. “We want to build a safer and more peaceful community.”

Louenna Hood, 38, a nanny from Cambridgeshire, receives a BEM after collecting and dispatching six containers of clothing and other supplies to young families forced to flee their homes in Ukraine. She also raised £190,000 to buy provisions for them. Hood said she was “completely stunned”, adding: “I started the campaign but I would never have been able to do it without the community.”

Asrar ul-Haq
Asrar ul-Haq has worked with refugees in Greece since he retired from Greater Manchester police Photograph: Handout

Asrar ul-Haq, 60, a former Greater Manchester police officer, is made an OBE in recognition of his work with marginalised communities. He said he had devoted his efforts to building better communications between the police and former offenders.

Since retiring, he has spent time working with refugees in Greece, helping coordinate the rescue response to get people safely from boats to camps. “I hope I’ve done my little bit to make something better for somebody else,” ul-Haq said.

Jim Jones, 52, a Greater Manchester police inspector, is awarded a BEM for his work supporting vulnerable offenders and diverting them away from the criminal justice system, as well as being an armed forces champion, leading a network to help veterans struggling with life outside the military.

He said: “For me, it was a win-win, because you are doing the right thing for veterans and also increasing the chances that they will not reoffend.”


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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