Celebrating outstanding mental health and wellbeing stories

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2021 UK Award Winners

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Most innovative mental health intervention

Most innovative proactive wellbeing intervention

Support During the Pandemic

Inspirational mental health story (over 18s)

Public nomination for an outstanding professional

Outstanding contribution to the mental health and wellbeing sector

Most Innovative Mental Health Intervention

Suicide Crisis

Set up in 2013 by a psychiatric patient who had recently experienced suicidal crisis herself, Suicide Crisis is a registered charity which provides Suicide Crisis Centres in Gloucestershire. It also runs a separate Trauma Centre providing a combination of services such as home visits and emergency phone lines for clients, training, psychiatric advise, and alike.


Suicide Crisis Centre clients decide how often the specialists will visit them, what kind of care and support they will receive, and they even decide when they feel ready to leave the service.  The client has control to make decisions as much as possible, while professionals actively intervene to protect their life when they are at risk of suicide.

The wider impact of the Suicide Crisis Centre is described in the book “Suicide Prevention Techniques: How A Suicide Crisis Centre Saves Lives” (published in 2018 by Hachette UK). The book explains in detail why all Suicide Crisis clients have survived under their care. You can purchase the book here.

Most innovative wellbeing intervention

Blackdog Outdoors

Black Dog Outdoors are passionate about outdoor activities and helping people to improve their mental health. Qualified outdoor professionals together with Mental Health First Aiders organise walking, climbing and paddle sport events throughout the UK that are free to attend for those affected by poor mental health. Black Dog Outdoors provide an opportunity to meet like-minded people without fear of being judged, and gain confidence in own abilities.


Black Dog Outdoors offer events free of charge for those affected by poor mental health. Events are run by volunteers who give up their time to provide a fun, supportive and safe experience for the attendees.
Black Dig Outdoors events also involve trainee leaders / instructors to help them gain experience of group management. Outdoor setting is beneficial to upskill and empower people to get out on their own.

Support During the Pandemic

Bedford Borough Council

Team BEDS&LUTON bring together a range of groups across Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire, including community organisations, national governing bodies, coaches, clubs and volunteers to support, develop and promote physical activity in the local area.

Making an impact during the pandemic

Bedford Borough Council and Robert Lindsay reacted swiftly to the initial lockdown in March 2020. They set up online sport and physical activity sessions, delivered by a qualified coach with the opportunity to socialise at the end of the session to make new friends and ensure the community felt connected. With many of the participants being on their own this really helped motivate and improve mental health during a very lonely time.

Watch this video of a couple who was impacted by online classes during the pandemic.

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy

Nordoff Robbins is the UK’s largest music therapy charity dedicated to bringing high quality music therapy to as many people as possible. Through the use of music they enrich the lives of people with life-limiting illnesses, disabilities and feelings of isolation.

Making an impact during the pandemic

The pandemic required a creative approach by the music therapists to continue their work. They discovered different activities that would benefit to service users, which included songwriting, music appreciation sessions and musical ‘discovery’ projects – group members introducing their musical passions and new discoveries to each other, singing together with users muted (only the music therapist is heard).

Read more about how the Hospice Choir continued to practise via Zoom


onHand is an award winning volunteer matching solution. IBM describes us as an “Uber for Volunteering”. Their mission is to make it simple for businesses all over the UK to engage employees whilst also giving back to communities.

Impact during the pandemic

We developed our tech to meet the growing need for help. Our project now delivers systems innovation, using tech to find and automate matching of volunteers with people in need. The onHand app has the ability to vet and track volunteers and allows volunteers to instantly claim shopping refunds, payment of which are then automated back to the volunteer.

Inspirational story

Harry Bliss

For a long time, Harry has been aware of the importance of mental wellbeing. After experiencing his own mental health struggles during university, he graduated determined to use his knowledge to galvanise change in the way people view, approach and deal with mental wellbeing in the workplace.

At the age of just 24, he took a leap of faith, and founded his own company: Champion Health. Champion Health would work with organisations to help them be proactive about looking after the mental health of their employees. In doing so, they would ensure that struggling employees could quickly get the help they needed.

Interview with Harry Bliss; The why behind Champion Health

Kate Rodgers

At the very young age of 24, Kate began to show signs of not being well. Kate did not end up in the big theatre in Down town Toronto as she hoped, but ended up in the psychiatric wing of the big hospital in downtown Toronto. So began her journey of mental health and mental illness, but more so, her journey of maintenance and recovery.

Based on her personal experience and research, she wrote a play called ‘Cracked Up’ to tell her story in the hopes that it would help people with their recovery journey. The play became incredibly successful and was played in Canada, New Zealand, England and Ireland.

Currently Kate is also one of the directors of a theatre company for people with mental health challenges. The entire members have now found a voice and a platform on which to use that voice.

Public nomination for an outstanding professional

Sue Bell

Sue Bell founded Kids Inspire in 2007, a not-for-profit organisation providing mental health and trauma recovery support for children, young people and their families. It is a unique organisation with over 100 paid or voluntary staff working across Essex, and beyond. The aim of Kids Inspire is to support disadvantaged children, young people and their families to build resilience, heal from trauma and reclaim their lives.

Sue is extremely well known in her community for her support of children’s mental health. She has the backing of her local MP, local authority and numerous community groups including the Rotary, Lions and Round Table.

A poem that one of Sue’s close friends has written in response to her achievements.

Find more about Kids Inspire.

Outstanding contribution to the mental health and wellbeing sector

Alison Donkin

Ali is the heart and soul behind the creation of a new Recovery College for North Tyneside. Ali works for VODA, a registered charity that passionately believes in the power of volunteers and community groups to change people’s lives for the better. For nearly 30 years VODA has been the ‘beating heart’ of the voluntary and community sector in North Tyneside, providing essential support to hundreds of volunteers and community groups each year.

Ali’s commitment to partnership working and collaboration has helped to sustain and grow the level of mental health provision across the borough of North Tyneside by applying different approaches to supporting local residents such as sports and creative writing.

Find more about VODA and the impact that they are making.

Annalise Baker

Annalise is Oakleaf’s Client Services Manager, responsible for the day-to-day management of the charity’s client-facing staff, and ensuring high-quality service provision for our hundreds of clients managing their mental ill-health.

Since Covid-19 Annalise has been on the front line of successfully adapting Oakleaf’s services to be delivered remotely, managed the huge increase in need and poor mental wellbeing within our client base, created innovative ways of supporting clients, and has looked after the wellbeing of team.  Annalise and her team worked incredibly long hours at the start of the pandemic to reassure and support clients on an individual basis.

2020 UK Award Winners

Scroll to

Most innovative mental health intervention

Most innovative proactive wellbeing intervention

Long-term impact

Outstanding contribution to the mental health and wellbeing sector

Inspirational mental health story (under 18s)

Inspirational mental health story (over 18s)

Lifestyle award

Most Innovative Mental Health Intervention

Penumbra Milestone

Penumbra Milestone is an alcohol-free 10 bedded step-down service providing short-term care for vulnerable men and women aged 18+ with a probable diagnosis of alcohol related brain damage (ARBD).


It is known that people experiencing ARBD have a range of complex physical, mental and social needs. The team provide specialist & intensive 1:1 and group re-enablement support for up to 12 weeks. Residents engage in a range of activities and therapy to improve their physical and mental health as well as promote/re-learn social and life skills. They are also supported to engage in community-based support services in the community that they will be discharged to, in order that they can continue to engage in them after discharge.

Most innovative wellbeing intervention


HUG A MUG friendly guidance café open to everyone, whatever their age, situation, background or postcode. HUG A MUG came out of a four year research process of finding out what local residents want to improve in their community.

Many local people find it hard to find out about what is available to them and there are many barriers to taking those next steps. HUG A MUG aims to create a safe space where you can get advice on all sorts of things like health and well-being, housing, work, finance or family problems, while wrapping your hands around a hot drink and knowing that someone will listen. HUG A MUG empowers people by helping them to identify what help they need and helping them to take those next steps – the service doesn’t aim to do it ‘for them’ or ‘to them.’

View a short promo video or read interview with the HUG A MUG Project Manager.

Long-term impact

Core Arts

Core Arts is a not-for-profit Social Business that promotes positive mental health and wellbeing through creative learning. Their mission is to support and promote recovery, social inclusion and mental wellbeing through the arts and enhance service user experience.

Core Arts encourages progression and well-being both mentally and physically, as well as connect the isolated and marginalised individuals to develop friendship groups. Their aim is to highlight the individuals’ strengths and ambitions and develop partnerships with other institutions to provide opportunities for students to showcase their works.

Read Core Art’s annual review or watch student’s performances.

Outstanding contribution to the mental health and wellbeing sector

Annabel Hodgson

Having worked in the Youth Work sector for over 30 years, Annabel has had a pivotal role in shaping the provision of mental health support for young people in Southampton and Hampshire. Starting as a Detached Youth Worker on a council estate, Annabel then developed Southampton’s first LGBTQ youth project before starting her role as the CEO at No Limits.

Annabel has built No Limits from a tiny charity with 2 members of staff to a large local charity with 100 staff and 70 volunteers from all over Hampshire. No Limits is an award-winning, local, independent charity providing a unique combination of prevention, early intervention and crisis support to young people, based on a nationally evidenced model. Annabel is passionate in her belief that young people should be given help to reach their potential, including those who are the most vulnerable. Annabel works continually to develop projects to support mental health.

Learn more about No Limits and the impact that they are making!

Inspirational Story (under 18s)

We Will

In December 2017, eight young people from West Cumbria had become so despairing about the lack of youth mental health services in their area and the impact it was having on family and friends that they called a public meeting and came together to form the WE WILL youth mental health campaign.

All of the founding members of WE WILL had been impacted directly or indirectly by mental health problems and the lack of support available to young people. The young people work as advocates for Youth Mental Health First Aid training – encouraging people to undertake the training and also spread the word. They are also trained to pass on basic YMHFA and suicide alert messages to peers and the wider community.

Read Guardian article or watch the video to learn more about the WE WILL.

Inspirational story (over 18s)

Ben West

At the age of 18, Ben’s brother Sam took his own life. Ben West is determined to save others from the same pain by campaigning for mental health awareness. While grieving for his 15 year old brother Sam, Ben organised a 200km walk across Kent to raise awareness of mental ill health.

More than 450 people took part in the project #Walktotalk. Mum Michelle is giving speeches at conferences to encourage teachers to take part in Mental Health First Aider training and the team have raised over £15,000, from the #Walktotalk event, to help develop more mental health awareness projects.

Visit The Sam West Foundation to learn how you can get involved!

The Lifestyle Award

Start to end suicide

Reach Out; Start to End Suicide is based on the foundation belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. START utilising its foundation within therapeutic arts developed incredibly innovative interventions that proactively engage with the Salford community; provide support and hope to those directly affected by suicide; and challenge stigma.

It has brought together the people of Salford as they build resilience, caring, save lives and end the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. It is a people’s movement that is delivering outstanding results.

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