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Winners of UK’s charity Oscars announced by leading think tank

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Prue Leith CBE and James Cracknell OBE lead tributes to the winners of the Centre for Social Justice Awards 2021

Prue Leith CBE and James Cracknell OBE lead tributes to the winners of the Centre for Social Justice Awards 2021, which showcases Britain’s best small charities 

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The winners of Britain’s foremost charity contest, the annual Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Awards, have been announced today.
 
Dubbed the UK’s ‘charity Oscars’, the Awards are being hosted as part of a bid to boost small UK charities, which have been struggling for over a year since Covid-19 lockdowns were first imposed.
 
The CSJ Awards are an annual, high profile award ceremony that honours the best grassroots, poverty-fighting charities and social enterprises from across Britain. Over the past 17 years the CSJ has awarded over £1 million to 100 of the best small charities from all around the country.
 
This year, Britain’s top four small charities will each receive a prize for their work, consisting of £10,000 and profile-raising promotion from the CSJ.
 
The winning organisations will also enrich the work of the CSJ through sharing their knowledge and experience and speaking into the formation of their research and recommendations.
 
Previous winners have variously been profiled on primetime television, had their services rolled out in every school across the country, and secured over £500,000 in additional funding due to the exposure the CSJ Awards gave them.The 2021 winners were chosen from a field of 127 applicants, all with an annual turnover of £2million or less.
 
They are:
 
Oasis Community Centre & Gardens (Worksop, using gardening and floristry to teach employment, life, business and other skills to a wide range of people, including those unemployed, suffering from a disability, or experiencing mental health problems);
 
The Snowdrop Project (Sheffield, providing long-term support to survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery);
 
MCR Pathways (Scotland, offering a mentoring and talent development programme for young people within the Scottish care system, and eliminating the education and life chances gap for children in care);
 
One25 (Bristol, working in partnership with 70 local agencies to help marginalised women who have experienced domestic or sexual violence, and those struggling with addiction and homelessness, often in the city’s red light areas).
 
Since last year the event has been fully digital and widely shared on social media.
 
The CSJ has teamed up with some famous faces including Prue Leith CBE, James Cracknell OBE, broadcaster Charlie Webster, and presenter Sarah-Jane Mee to produce a series of short films about each of the winners, which can be seen on the CSJ website.
 
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative Party leader and CSJ co-founder, introduced the event with his own words of congratulation:
 
“Covid-19 won’t stop us from celebrating our incredible award-winning charities. The Awards is our chance to celebrate remarkable people who work tirelessly to help change lives for the better.
 
“One of the bright lights in the dark Covid-19 experience has been the evidence of community fellowship and local acts of kindness.
 
“Charities have been at the heart of this, supporting the most vulnerable in their communities and doing everything in their power to keep their services open as the world shutdown around them. They have been the unsung heroes of the hour, playing a crucial role in helping people deal with both the illness itself and the health implications (financial and mental) of the pandemic.
 
“The awards will celebrate the brave charities who have kept their doors open to serve those in need. We want to shine a light on these incredible organisations who rarely receive the recognition they deserve.
 
“We hope you will see what we see: dedicated organisations stopping at nothing, not even a global pandemic, to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people across Britain.”
 
Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice think tank, said:
 
“The CSJ Awards are a highlight of our year, as we can advance the cause of Britain’s best small charities, who are doing so much for this country.
 
“The 2021 Awards are special not just because of the winners’ outstanding work, but also due to the demands of Covid-19 and repeated lockdowns.
 
“Lockdowns have hit small charities particularly hard, as they rely on in-person fundraising events to survive. They also depend on personal contact to carry out their work, which has been severely limited.
 
“Nevertheless, the four Award winners and 127 strong candidates across the country have gone above and beyond their usual capacity to help Britain’s most vulnerable citizens.
 
“Their example is highly impressive in such difficult times, and the CSJ is honoured to work with them. I offer my congratulations to the winners, and gratitude to all those who take part in serving the nation selflessly day-in, day-out.”
 
Dr Iain MacRitchie, Founder and Chair of MCR Pathways, one of this year’s winners said:
 
“The MCR school-based mentoring model has a transformational impact on young people’s lives. This recognition from the CSJ will help propel us from the 3,000 young people we currently support each week, to reach our ambition of helping 10 times that number.”
 
Anna Smith, CEO of One25, one of this year’s winners said:
 
“One25 is proud to have won a CSJ Award, especially this year when staff and volunteers have worked so hard to keep vital services running during lockdowns. We hope that the award sends out a clear message that – with love and specialist support – women who have experienced trauma and are socially marginalised can find safety and healing, become independent and thrive in the community.”
 
Lara Bundock, CEO of The Snowdrop Project, one of this year’s winners said:
 
“We are thrilled to win one of the highly respected CSJ awards. To have our work and cause recognised on this platform gives us such a unique opportunity to raise the profile of why long-term support is key to the recovery of survivors of trafficking. We hope that those who watch the video and read about our vision will be inspired to find out more, become part of what we are doing and help us bring about the change that is needed so more survivors can unlock new futures.”
 
Steve Williams, Founder of Oasis Community Centre & Gardens, one of this year’s winners said:
 
“We are so excited about getting this award from the CSJ. For a small charity it is really amazing to be recognised for the work we are doing and we feel so blessed. All we are really doing is responding to the needs of local people in our area and doing whatever we can to help create a place for them to belong, support them and improve life and opportunities for them.”

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