Preston charities bring home BBC award for making a difference to communities

Three Preston charities were among those bringing home the BBC Make A Difference award following the Winter Gardens ceremony over the weekend.

By James Holt
Monday, 13th September 2021, 3:59 pm

The Here for Humanity organisation, set up during the pandemic to feed families in poverty, the JJEffect, which educates young people on the dangers of knife crime and Lets Grow Preston were all up for awards in the annual BBC Make a Difference ceremony and won in their retrospective categories.

The Here for Humanity organisation, which was recently granted £10,000 in lottery funding and given a Preston Mayor Hero Award, won the ‘Championship award’ for helping elderly people who were socially isolated during the pandemic.

The charity, based at the new community hub on Eldon Street, stores donated foods from local residents and from the Fare Share organisation before delivering food packages to vulnerable people in Preston.

Founder Chris Murray said: “We dedicate the award to each and every volunteer who helped win it along the way.

“No matter how big or small their contribution, it all played a part in HFH being crowned winners on the night in what has to be one of the most heart clutching categories.

“We would not have won without the Preston food businesses that provided kitchens, supplies and donations during the pandemic.”

Byron Highton, who set up the JJ Effect organisation after his brother JonJo was fatally stabbed and killed in 2014, won the ‘Education award’ at the Blackpool Winter Gardens ceremony for efforts teaching young people about the dangers of knife crime.

The Here for Humanity organisation won an award at the ceremony. Credit to BBC Lancashire.

Since his brother's death, Byron has tirelessly campaigned against knife crime in Lancashire and is now working alongside police to make our streets safer.

Speaking after the win, Byron said: “The fact that we are finally being noticed as one of the most powerful and effective anti-knife crime presentations is exactly what we set out to achieve.

"From the JJeffect youth support club, our live talks and taking knives off the streets, we will continue our constant hard work in education and making our streets a safer place."

Throughout the pandemic, local BBC radio stations have been recording inspiring stories of people who gave back to their communities, with nominees being judged by a panel and shortlisted in a range of categories.

Founder Chris of the Here for Humanity organisation. Credit to BBC Lancashire.

Held at Blackpool's Winter Gardens on Saturday, September 11, organisations and businesses won awards across a range of categories, including Volunteer of the Year, Young Carer Award, Community Hero, Community Project and the Championship Award, among others that recognise different areas of society that have benefitted as a result of someone's efforts.

Let's Grow Preston were the third local winner of the 'Community Project of the Year' award, aimed to recognise the work of an innovative project helping to genuinely change the lives of others within the community.

The organisation combined its efforts with 33 other food hubs last year to meet the demands of food supplies and delivered over 2,400 food packages, the equivalent of 570,000 meals, to struggling families.

Founder Annie Wynn said: "Let's Grow is delighted on behalf of the volunteers, the allotmenteers of Preston, the Preston Food Hub network and our staff and trustees to be recognised for this award.

Bryon Highton won for his work with the JJ Effect organisation. Credit to BBC Lancashire.

"Last year, we collected vegetables from allotments each Monday and grew as many vegetables and fruit that we could to donate locally grown, fresh food to the food hub network of Preston which was coordinated by Preston City Council.

"We promote physical and mental wellbeing through volunteering and as a by-product of the volunteers sowing seeds and potting on, we always have an abundance of vegetable seedlings and plants to donate to community groups and the community gardens.

"We are so pleased that we can enable the allotmenteers to be part of the solution to food poverty and insecurity in Preston. Thanks to all of our stakeholders, collaborators and volunteers. We love doing what we do."

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Lets Grow Preston also won a Community Project of the Year award. Photo credit to BBC Lancashire.
The annual awards were held at the iconic Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Credit to BBC Lancashire.