Simon West, Lord Dannatt and Tracey West in the House of Lords

The Directory of Social Change (DSC) awards evening took place on Wednesday 23rd January in London and we were absolutely thrilled to be named finalists in the Everybody Benefits: New Enterprise category.

Our co-founders, Simon and Tracey West, were invited to attend, as were same category finalists from Street Paws and Refuweegee. They were joined by 200 social change makers and other guests from the Third Sector, including DSC Chair, Caron Bradshaw, CEO, Debra Allcock Tyler and CEO of the Small Charities Coalition, Rita Chadha. Dedicated, hardworking teams from across the charitable world were duly recognised and everybody’s efforts were celebrated at the DSCs twelfth annual Social Change Awards evening, in the beautiful surroundings of the Cholmondeley Room at the House of Lords.

(R-L) Simon and Tracey West alongside Street Paws founder, Michelle Southern and her husband, Allan. Street Paws are the amazing charity based in Newcastle, that won the Everybody Benefits: New Enterprise Award.

Debra Allcock Tyler, CEO of DSC, said in her opening speech:

“This event tonight is about recognising the huge achievements you all make towards creating a better society for all of us. It is our job to serve our beneficiaries to the best of our abilities in the way we deem best. And one of those ways has to be shouting truth to power. So don’t you dare stop ‘banging on’ about stuff because people are tired or bored of it. In our sector we don’t ever accept the unacceptable, give up the fight, or lose hope. We don’t say to someone struggling with an addiction or depression or loneliness or fear, ‘Yep, you’re right love, no point trying. Accept it and give up’. We say, ‘You can change it and we will help you!’”.

The evening celebrated many passionate individuals and effective organisations, committed to making a positive impact on society. It was hosted by The General Lord Dannatt and supported by Haysmacintyre and Centre 4 Learning and a wonderful time was had by all.

Tracey commented: “Michelle and I met on the veranda overlooking the River Thames. We stepped outside with our husbands to have a breath of fresh air and a moment of quiet reflection, ahead of the announcements. Funnily enough, there were only two or three other people with us, all taking photos of the Houses of Parliament behind us. We struck up a conversation and I was delighted to find out it was the Street Paws team! I’d already looked at their website and seen the amazing work they’ve been doing over the past four years – in my mind, they’d absolutely won hands down before the announcement came.

It was insightful sharing experiences with another charity CEO. It is unbelievably rewarding but this can be a very demanding role and the event provided a welcome shimmer of light on what can be a very dark canvas at times. It’s wonderful to make new friends too. I wish we’d had more time to talk. I feel a video call coming on, with a large cup of tea!”

Ian Pembridge, one of the DSC hosts, explained that hundreds of nominations had been made for different charities and thousands of votes were cast for the finalists. The shortlisters were then presented to a judging team who had the unenviable task of choosing the ultimate winners in the 6 categories.

We send our congratulations to all of the winners and the fellow runners up too. The top accolades were scooped by:

Outstanding Contribution Award: Steve Wood
Everybody Benefits, Long Term Enterprise Award: Norfolk Community Law Service
Everybody Benefits, New Enterprise Award: Street Paws
Influencer Award: Sally Callow
Rising Star Award: Elif Karanis
Great Giving Award: Vision Foundation

All of the runners up and winners were given 6 months membership to the DSCs Fund Finder, which we’re hoping will be a marvellous tool to help us get more trees in the ground. We were also presented with an incredibly detailed, bespoke, framed artwork by the award-winning cartoonist, Grizelda; ours depicts our charity’s story, rather brilliantly and it has pride of place in the office.

Simon commented, “Rewarding people in the Third Sector with recognition and certificates, is a great way to encourage even greater enthusiasm – not that anyone in that room needed any more! Gifting everyone access to the fundraising database will undoubtedly improve our collective ability to raise vital funds so we can continue to deliver the services only charities provide.”

Photos and full details of the evening are available to view at SocialChangeAwards.org.uk.

The (quite chuffed) Team