Salix Star 2015 Finalists

Voting for the Salix Stars 2015 has now closed.

The Salix Stars Awards recognises people who have volunteered their time to make a positive difference to other people’s lives and the environment that they live in. The awards are a way of celebrating some of the amazing work that is being done in neighbourhoods and communities across Salford.

You can read, and watch the short video about each of the three finalists in the five categories below.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 27, November 2015.

Aim High Star

An upcoming individual in the community who has improved themselves, or an area or neighbourhood, and deserves to be recognised for their special efforts. Supported by Procure Plus.

John Rainey - Good neighbour John, 72, has lived at Cheviot Close, Seedley for the past 17 years devoting his spare time to helping neighbours and ensuring the surrounding area is a pleasant space for all.
The great-grandfather-of-five single-handedly transformed the communal grounds in his neighbourhood, planting flowers, installing benches and applying for additional funding to ensure the place remains clean and tidy. He has recently finished a complete overhaul of Cheviot Close communal square after securing a grant from our Your Salix, Your Say fund, much to the delight of neighbours.
John said: “I do quite a bit of work round here for the environment to keep it nice, neat, tidy and clean. I try and engage the other residents to get involved as much as possible. To be nominated is a fantastic thing and I’m very pleased.”

Laura Kendall - Community volunteer Laura is not only invaluable to the people of Ordsall, she has also transformed her own life.
A mum-of-two, she spends her days volunteering in the community – launching a toddlers group, helping out at Ordsall Community Arts, the allotment site and organising events for the area.
Laura, 31, has helped bring the community together and ensures the people of Ordsall know exactly what opportunities are on their doorstep. She’s secured funding to take disadvantage families on trips, launched a community Facebook group and installed a community notice board to help keep people informed of the latest events.
But several years ago life was very different for Laura, who was suffering from severe depression and anxiety.
She said: “Volunteering has changed my life and helped me overcome everything. Four years ago I felt worthless, I didn’t have any respect for myself or anything else. To now stand up and walk out that door and be respected by people, it makes me feel warm and like I have a purpose back. It’s really nice to do something for the community, and seeing the kids’ faces when you put an event on is just really good - I love it.”

Letitia Rose - Inspirational campaigner Letitia, 47, has been battling to challenge the stigma of people on benefits.
For the past two years she has been volunteering with social justice charity Church Action on Poverty where she's been instrumental in its Challenging Stigma project which was launched in response to controversial Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street to show the public the ‘real Benefits Street’ and the battles and hardships that ordinary people face.
Letitia, who lives in Eccles, said: “Salford alongside a lot of other cities have taken a bashing and people’s sense of worth has taken a bashing. It’s been soul destroying to see what’s gone on. You hear all the time about people on benefits being a drain on society, but it’s not about the paid work, it’s about what you give to the community. When you total up the unpaid hours of volunteering, caring for family, friends, neighbours – that is just invaluable and a lot of people just don’t recognise the talents that they have got inside themselves.”
Letitia, who is a single mum of three girls, was working as a carer on a zero hours contract when she decided to get involved. She added: “I got involved because I wanted to make a difference - I felt I had something to give back to the community. It’s about supporting the marginalised in society and speaking up for inequality and that’s all the things I believe in" 

Young Rising Star

A young person aged 24 or under who had made a positive impact in the community. Supported by Seddon.

Rosie Heaton - Teenager campaigner Rosie, 18, from Worsley battled meningitis to help save thousands of lives.
Struck down at just seven years old, she spent time in intensive care and despite overcoming the illness, went on to develop chronic kidney disease and ME, brought on as a result.
Rosie spent much of her younger teenage years in and out of a wheelchair and was forced to miss five years of mainstream education.
While battling debilitating conditions, Rosie is an ardent campaigner calling for the government to introduce the Meningitis B vaccine for all babies, to help prevent others going through what she did.
An ambassador for charity Meningitis Now, she took petitions to Downing Street calling for action and in September this year she got her wish when new legislation was brought in offering the vaccine as part of the routine immunisation schedule for babies.
She said: “I’m pretty proud...because I wanted to make a difference and lots of lives are going to be saved.”
Alongside campaigning, Rosie raised over £6,000 for Meningitis Now by organising a series of fundraising events across Salford.
She added: "I try not to let my ME hold me back, because it’s just something that’s there and you have got to move on with your life. It has been difficult at times because I was in a wheelchair for a long time, but that’s just life"

Liam Cole - Inspirational teenager Liam, 15, from Lower Broughton, took part in Salix Homes Tea and Tech project – an initiative to encourage the younger generation to teach older people essential IT skills.
A pupil at Albion High School, he attended the sessions at Muirhead Court sheltered housing scheme, where he struck up a friendship with pensioner Margaret Rose Martin.
Liam said: “The reason I wanted to get involved is because the barrier between the older and younger generation needs to be broken down because people have different visions of each other and that’s not right. To teach the older generation that younger people are also just like them and that they can get along is a great start to building the community back".
Liam, who is also a cadet with the RAF, helped Margaret get to grips with tablet technology and even taught her how to take a ‘selfie’ and play angry birds. He’s now keen to continue with his volunteering and help others.
He added: “To know that I’ve helped someone else learn a new skill, something that’s going to help them in life, is a massive achievement for me. It’s not only helped someone else’s self-esteem, it’s helped mine too and if I can do that for more people, then I will.”

Sophie Finnigan - Budding actress Sophie, 18, from Swinton has a dream to stamp out bullying and homophobic abuse.
She's been an anti-bullying ambassador since primary school, but recently volunteered with LGBT rights charity Stonewall. As part of her work Sophie delivered workshops to students across Salford to educate them about homophobic bullying and the impact of using the word 'gay' negatively.
A former student at Salford City College, Sophie said: “My aim is to hopefully one day eradicate homophobic bullying from education, but I know it’s not going to happen in a day. My workshops are about tackling the use of homophobic language, despite it being used casually, some people don’t understand the effects that it has.”
Sophie, who is hoping to go to drama school next year, adds “It means a lot to be nominated – it just shows to me that what I’m doing is being noted, so it must be affecting some people in a positive way.

Best Green Star

An individual, group or project that has made a difference to the environment and improved the local area. Supported by Travis Perkins.

Luke Blazejewski - Environmentalist Luke, 28, is the founder of Clean-Up Salford – an anti-waste campaign which helped clear the city of a staggering two tonnes of rubbish.
The project launched in June 2013 after he grew tired of the state of the city’s streets and parks.
He said: “I started to notice that the city had quite a large problem with litter and the detrimental effect it was having on the local wildlife. I found myself walking around Salford with a bin bag picking stuff up off the street, but I was getting a strong response to what I was doing".
Before long Luke, who studied wildlife documentary production at Salford University, was holding regular litter picks across east Salford and was joined by scores of people eager to lend a hand.
He added: “Over time the project evolved and I started leading wildlife talks and teaching people about the birds, the bees, the bats and the butterflies in the area and educating people about what’s on their doorstep. I find that if you can teach people about what they have around them they start to have a sense of ownership around their local community and when people have a sense of ownership they want to protect what they have.”
The team have pulled a mountain of rubbish from the river including old shopping trolleys and even a crisp packet dating back to 1982, transforming the area into a wildlife haven.
Luke, who is now a filmmaker living in Broughton, added: “It’s incredibly humbling to be nominated. When I started picking up litter in a park by myself I never expected anything. When you believe in something and you follow that belief you will be surprised beyond your wildest imaginings as to where it can take you.”

St Sebs Youth Squad - Children at St Sebastian’s Primary School in Charlestown have been going green and learning how to grow their own at an after-school club.
The family sessions aim to educate about the benefits of growing fresh produce and healthy eating. The project launched in May and is giving families the chance to spend time together in the great outdoors while learning where their food comes from.
The school has limited green space, so the children grow their fruit, vegetables and flowers in planters in the playground and can take away their produce to cook together at home.
Betty Solomon, aged nine, loves attending with her mum and younger brother Rahbot. Betty said: “We do lots of fun activities. We planted strawberries and raspberries and when they were done we would eat them. We also started planting flowers to make our school look a better place. I like gardening because it gives me the chance to get my hands dirty. We always have fun because we have a good chance to use team work and we get more friends by helping.”

Seedley and Langworthy in Bloom - For the past 13 years an army of green-fingered volunteers have been doing a marvellous job of brightening up the streets of Salford.
Every year the group plants 8,500 bulbs to brighten up the area. With the oldest member being 81 and the youngest aged just four, age is no barrier to getting involved.
The array of blossoming blooms line the streets, walkways and roadsides in a one square mile area across Seedley and Langworthy.
Jenny Sowerby, chair of the group, said: “This is very precious to us all and it’s so important because it makes the place look a lot brighter. The group, which is a multiple winner of the North West in Bloom and Britain in Bloom awards, spends a week in spring planting up all the flower boxes and hanging baskets and then keep them watered throughout the summer months.
Volunteer Jean Varden added: “It means to world to be nominated. I joined the group three years ago and it’s been the most wonderful experience I could have had. It means everything to see this area so in bloom.”

The Shelagh Delaney Creativity Award

An individual or group who has done something creative in the community, or come up with a new idea or innovative project to improve people's lives. Supported by Emanuel Whittaker.

Natalie Kheirkhah - Artist Natalie, 31, has drawn upon her experiences of depression to help hundreds of others.
Suffering with debilitating depression, anxiety and panic attacks since a teenager, she has used art therapy to overcome her problems and for the past five years has been helping others do the same.
The mum-of-one, from Irlams O‘th Height, runs Rainbow Pathways – a community arts organisation for people with mental health issues and learning difficulties.
Natalie said: “I started the group for people who are struggling in the same way that I was. A lot of people come out of studying or working because of the pressure and end up unemployed and feel like they can’t go back, so Rainbow Pathways is like an alternative to education to get people back to doing everyday things without the pressure."
Natalie, who studied art at Salford University, runs the sessions at venues across the city and adds; "It really helps improve their confidence and when your confidence improves in one area of your life it improves in other areas too.” 
She added: “Over the last 10 years my anxiety and depression has improved a lot. Years ago I couldn’t even leave the house and at one point I had to leave my job because I couldn’t even speak to people – I thought I’d never work again. It’s brilliant to be nominated. I don’t do it for the credit, but it’s nice when someone notices something you are doing. I do it because it makes other people feel better, but I feel better too when I can see their confidence grow.”

Salford Veterans Breakfast Club - The club, launched in January this year, provides a lifeline for ex-armed forces personnel across the city.
Set up by ex-servicemen and Salfordians Colin Taylor, Glenn Croton and Andy Watkins, who felt there was little support in the area. Held every Saturday morning at St Thomas’ Church in Pendleton it provides an essential service for more than 140 local veterans and is the only one of its kind in Greater Manchester giving ex-service personnel the chance to reconnect with the armed forces community, share their experiences, and access help and support.
Andy Watkins, 49, served as a chef in the Army Catering Corps, said: “The guys come in, get a cheap bite to eat, enjoy the banter. They’re not just coming in for five minutes for a quick brew, they’re staying here all morning, because they’re engaging back into the social scene. It’s like being back in the forces and everyone has an understanding of each other.”
The club relies on donations and help from volunteers and is open to all veterans and their families.
Rebecca Holden, the armed forces champion at Salford’s Supported Tenancies Team which is managed by Salix Homes, added: “The very nature of working in the armed forces is in itself very unique. They sacrifice a lot, risk their lives, lose friends and comrades along the way and life after services can be very daunting."

Everyday Life in Salford - This creative community project meets at St Sebastian’s Community Centre in Charlestown and celebrates the city’s best bits through photography as well as identifying areas for change.
The group, who are all amateur photographers, take pictures of the things they encounter in their daily life with the work being eventually published in a book and shown as a public exhibition.
Group member Glynn Treharne said: “The project is about looking at the things that make you feel good about yourself, but also the things that are not so good that you would like to change. Sometimes you only look at the negatives and don’t see the positives, but by going out and taking these pictures it reminds you of what’s good about your life.”
Another group member Jane Fearns, said the project has helped transform her life; “It’s made a big difference to my life. I was sat at home on my own 24/7 - that was my life. I now have a reason to get dressed and go out - now I have a social life within the group and I enjoy going.”

Spirit of Salford Star Award

An individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the community and gone above and beyond to make a real, long-lasting difference. Supported by Lead sponsor A Connolly Ltd.

Simon Williams - Simon, aged 50, is a true Salfordian who dedicates his time to raising money for charity, generating thousands of pounds over the years.
Last year the former builder turned writer and radio presenter launched the Five Tin Challenge for charity Coffee4Craig, which helps homeless people in Salford and Manchester. As part of the initiative he urged people to donate five tins to the charity and post their photograph on social media with the tins – the challenge quickly went viral and the charity was inundated with offers of support including a mountain of clothes and sleeping bags.
Granddad-of-two Simon has also penned four books about his beloved Salford and donated the proceeds of one to St Ann’s Hospice.
Simon, who now lives in Eccles, grew up in Langworthy and now presents a radio show the Sounds of Salford, which he uses to help raise the profile of local worthy causes.
One of the nominees said about him: “Simon is a Salford lad and is very passionate about Salford. He has a heart of gold and is always willing to give the city and Salford people something back. He is one of the finest and most real people you could ever meet and has achieved so much for Salford people.”

Jack Fletcher - Karate instructor Jack, 25, has battled a debilitating illness to bring martial arts to the Broughton community.
In 2011 the only karate club in Broughton closed down due to lack of funding. Jack, who was a karate black belt by the age of 16, was determined to bring karate back and in April this year got his wish when alongside partner Hollie Frith opened the Ken Yu Kai Karate Club at St Clements Church which is now home to over 40 martial arts enthusiasts ranging from just three years old to 45.
But it’s been a difficult journey for Jack who was struck down with a mystery illness in 2012 suffering 20 – 30 seizures a day and was forced to stop driving, leave his job as a teaching assistant and give up his beloved karate.
Eventually he was diagnosed with non-epileptic attack disorder, which causes seizures brought on by stress or a negative memory. With no medication available, Jack underwent therapy to learn to control his condition and found karate helped him through.
He said: “The illness gave me the drive to go on, do better and open the club. Looking at a lot of sufferers, you can become a couch potato, you sit down and give in to it, but from the offset I said I don’t want to be like this, I wanted to get my life back.”
Remarkably Jack had not had a seizure in the past year and alongside his karate coaching, is now training to be a teacher at Edge Hill University.

Janieve Petruzis - Inspirational mum-of-two Janieve, 39, has helped raise more than £10,000 for charities close to her heart.
A single mum to Scott, six and Alexia, 11, she was first inspired to start fundraising in honour of her son who suffers from Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF) – a condition which affects babies’ ability to swallow.
Throughout her son’s illness Janieve was helped by Ronald McDonald House in Manchester – a charity which provides support to families whose children are in hospital. Over the years she has supported a number of charities and local people – including raising £1,000 for her friend David Oldroyd, from Charlestown, to sponsor a plaque in memory of his baby son who died.
Janieve, who lives in Charlestown, has been overwhelmed by the support she has received; “People give Salford a pretty bad name sometimes, like when the riots happened, but that’s not a true reflection of what Salford is about.," she said.
"When I was raising money for charity, I had single mums knocking on my door giving me money boxes from their kids – and I think that’s a true reflections of Salford.”
Janieve added: “I really enjoy it and I enjoy it more when someone comes up to me and says ‘thanks for that’. That means more than anything because I think I have helped them through something. I will always raise money for charity. As long as it’s helping other people I don’t think I am ever going to stop.”