The Centre for Social Justice honoured the work of the most effective charities tackling disadvantage and social breakdown at its annual Awards ceremony last night.
Leading figures from the worlds of politics, entertainment, business and sport gathered in London to celebrate and recognise the impact of six outstanding charities and groups that are helping to tackle poverty and turn lives around.
The event coincided with the CSJ's official celebration of its 10th anniversary.
Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a video message to the audience, and said the Award winners “are people who reject the notion that poverty and disadvantage are inevitable”. He said they “work against the odds to offer hope, spread opportunity and transform lives”.
He added: “I’m delighted their work – so often overlooked – is being given the recognition it deserves tonight.” Watch the full message here.
The occasion, which was hosted by TV presenter June Sarpong, saw six cash prizes of £10,000 awarded to groups that were selected by an expert panel of judges.
Awards were presented by a host of celebrities, including historian Dan Snow, screenwriter and creator of Downton Abbey Sir Julian Fellowes and England cricket legend Allan Lamb. CSJ founder and Patron Iain Duncan Smith MP concluded the event with a speech on the importance of the voluntary sector.
The CSJ Awards has brought voluntary groups to the attention of the national media and policy-makers over the last 10 years and has given out nearly £400,000 in prizes.
The first winner named on the night was the Big House, a London-based charity that works with care leavers who are at a high risk of social exclusion, using drama as a therapeutic tool. Their award was presented by Lord Fellowes. The Big House website is available here.
Sheffield Alcohol Support Service, which helps people to tackle addiction and change their lives through a range of specialist services, won the second award of the night, the Maxie Richards Award, presented by Dan Snow. View the SASS website here.
The winner of the third award was Action Foundation, which provides support to the most isolated people in Tyneside. This includes a project to provide accommodation and support to destitute asylum seekers. The award was presented by Allan Lamb. Read the group’s website here.
The next award focussed on groups supporting victims of modern slavery and human trafficking – a subject the CSJ put under the spotlight last year with its major report It Happens Here.
Home Secretary Theresa May recorded a message for the ceremony, saying: “The CSJ’s work on modern slavery inspired me to put forward a new Modern Slavery Bill that will soon become an Act. It will ensure that Britain once again leads the world in its fight against this crime.”
This award was given to the Baca Charity, which works directly with vulnerable migrant children across the Midlands who are seeking asylum or are victims of modern slavery. Broadcast journalist Aasmah Mir presented the award. View Baca’s website here.
In a new category for the event, the next award was dedicated to groups specialising in early intervention. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan continued the presence of high-profile politicians at the ceremony, and presented the new award to The Eikon. The Surrey-based group identifies at risk youth and provides support. Their website is available here.
The final award of the evening was the Mark Duncan Award, named in memory of the CSJ team member who led work on problem debt and its link to disadvantage. Mark’s wife, Nicola, presented the award to women@thewell. This women-only drop-in centre in London is dedicated to supporting women with a complex range of needs relating to street based prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, offending and rough sleeping. View its website here.