Changemaker Awards 2020 – winners announced

Date 7.02.2020

Last night the annual Changemaker Awards ceremony were held, bringing together students, graduates and staff members from across the University, as well as local businesses and the community, to celebrate the positive social impact we have on the community around us.

The winners – with their citations – are below.


Community Changemaker of the Year: The individual, community organisation or initiative from outside of the University who has demonstrated a significant commitment to Changemaking, whether locally, nationally or internationally.

Laura Graham, for her work creating communities as founder of the The Happy Hood community zine and her work with Age UK

Laura is a community champion for Northampton, building connections to create a stronger community. Focussing on both grassroots and institution levels she has initiated positive changes that have impacted many people, taking action while inspiring others to do the same.

Her successes have included founding the community zine The Happy Hood, which celebrates good news in Northampton and gives a platform for local artists and writers to get published; launching LiftNN, a multi-agency working group to spark collaborative working for the good of Northampton; and creating community connections through GoodNeighbour, a scheme launched in Laura’s neighbourhood.

Laura also works with Age UK Northants, securing them the position of Charity of the Year with Northants Chamber of Commerce; coordinates the local befriending service Linking Lives and regularly writes for Happiful magazine, Macmillan Cancer Support and Huffington Post to promote wellbeing and community.

Laura has created communities where there were none, inspiring others to take action rather than spreading negativity about the things they don’t like in Northampton. Laura is a dynamic individual who has made community and positivity relevant again. She has helped people to see that they have power and agency to change theirs and other’s worlds. A true Changemaker in action.


Culture and Heritage Changemaker of the Year: The individual, team, organisation or initiative that has demonstrated a significant commitment to Changemaking, enriching communities through culture and heritage.

NN Contemporary, for their work to enrich Northamptonshire through the arts, supporting artists and providing access to the arts for communities

NN Contemporary is an art space in the centre of Northampton, working with artists at all stages of their careers to present an international programme of contemporary art and multi-disciplinary events. They aim to enrich the lives of people in Northamptonshire through the arts. They are pioneering and visionary in the work they commission and exhibit, providing the town with a focal point for creativity. They work to be a catalyst for creativity, working with their audiences, artists, funders and supporters to ignite imaginations and inspire collaboration to transform communities.

Two of the key values they embody are to be encouraging and inclusive, opening the world of the arts to everyone. They have a focus on engaging young artists and performers, providing them with a channel to explore and showcase their talents. In addition, regular career development and training events are held, providing opportunities to access essential networks and advice.

NN Contemporary receive between 150,000 and 250,000 visitors a year, with 2,000,000 interactions though broadcasts, print and online materials. A further 2,500 people engage with the gallery every year through the programmes they deliver.

This is all made possible by members of the local public who contribute over 1000 hours of volunteering support every year. These volunteers are all trained to national museum standards, offering them experience to progress into the creative industries. NN Contemporary have been through a period of significant change but remain focused on working towards their vision of being the ‘Cultural Institution of the Future’.


Education Changemaker of the Year: The individual, team, organisation or initiative that has demonstrated a significant commitment to Changemaking which enables children and young people to flourish and learn.

Hospital and Outreach Education Alternative Provision Academy, for providing educational support for children and young people in Northamptonshire who have a medical or mental health difficulty that prevents them from attending school full time.

Hospital and Outreach Education (HOE) is an Alternative Provision Academy that provides educational support for children and young people in Northamptonshire who have a medical or mental health difficulty that prevents them from attending school full time.

As the only provider of this service in the county they offer teaching across five hospitals, two outreach centres and to pupils in their own homes. During the last academic year, HOE have led a national project to trial a telepresence robot called AV1.

This new technology enables children to keep in touch with their peers and home schools during their hospital treatment, allowing relationships to be maintained so that transitions back to school are a much smoother process, seeing many children return to school earlier. The implementation of AV1 has resulted in an increase in wellbeing, not only for the HOE pupils but also their families, simply by allowing children to stay connected to their school lives.

This successful trial has resulted in 70 AV1 robots being implemented across the country, reducing the isolation of many children who cannot attend school while undergoing hospital treatment.


Enterprise Changemaker of the Year: The individual, team, organisation or initiative that has demonstrated a positive social impact through enterprise activity

Track NN Ltd, an enterprise aimed at providing employment opportunities and training for young people with autism.

Track NN is a Northampton enterprise born out of the knowledge that only 16% of autistic adults are in full time employment. Focussed on addressing this at a local level Track NN aim to provide autistic adults with the support they need to progress into the type of employment they aspire to.

Support is provided on a one to one basis with each individual receiving a personal support plan to help them meet their own goals. Track NN has shown a tireless commitment to engaging not only with individuals but also with local businesses to ensure they are doing all that they can to make their workplaces aware, and more importantly accepting, of autism. By working in collaboration with local businesses they have been able to create a variety of workplace opportunities across a range of industries. Since being established in mid 2018, Track NN have also set up Café Track in the heart of Northampton.

Café Track not only gives autistic individuals a supportive environment to develop employability skills but has also been a place for people to build communities. The Café hosts a range of local community groups including Talk at Track which was set up to give a place for autistic adults to meet and discuss employment opportunities and experiences.

Everything about the Track NN enterprise is designed to meet needs at a personal level and the support given is tailored to ensure individuals feel truly valued. Track NN has shown that through collaborating with businesses throughout Northamptonshire it is able to increase the provision of autism support in the county.


Health and Wellbeing Changemaker of the Year: The individual, team, organisation or initiative that has demonstrated a positive social impact to benefit health and wellbeing in communities.

UON Mental Health First Aiders, for promoting and enabling both staff, students and the local community to feel empowered to take responsibility for their wellbeing and to support others.

This project demonstrates a range of Changemaker values, promoting and enabling staff, students and the local community to feel empowered to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and support others with theirs.

The project has developed through collaborative working between the BSc Nursing team and the University’s Human Resource’s team. The BSc Nursing team were keen to explore how mental health wellbeing could be explicitly threaded into the nursing curriculum using an evidence-based programme while the Human Resource’s team had identified the importance of training, support and awareness of mental health issues in the staff community.

Together they developed a mental health first aid training programme. This sustainable model has been embedded within the BSc Nursing curriculum with resources developed to share delivery to the wider University and local community.

To date, 17 MHFA instructors have been trained and training has been delivered to 500 BSc Nursing students, 38 SU staff and 300 University staff as well as members of local community groups. Collaborative partnerships have been forged with local businesses, community and sports groups to ensure effective use of resources and to promote a culture shift within the issue of mental health and wellbeing through a whole community approach.


Research Changemaker of the Year: The University of Northampton Researcher who has demonstrated a significant commitment to Changemaking through their scholarly activities.

Nicola Smithers, Senior Lecturer in Law, for her research project The lived experiences of parents involved in the decision to withhold or withdraw treatment from their critically ill baby.

Research project: The lived experiences of parents involved in the decision to withhold or withdraw treatment from their critically ill baby.

Nicola’s PhD was initially desk-based: a review of case law and medico-ethical guidelines regarding critical neonatal illness. However, Nicola was struck by the total absence of parents’ voices from these documents. Nicola wanted to change this. She felt that guidance for medical professionals could be transformed via research with parents who have cared and grieved for a critically ill baby.

Nicola embarked upon a year-long project of professional and personal development: she engaged with countless qualitative methods workshops, shadowed staff and clinicians at an NHS Special Care Baby Unit and sought advice from the UK’s leading charities dealing with childhood illness/mortality.

Nicola has consistently demonstrated a major commitment to social impact. Her research evidences multiple ways in which neonatal care units, support services and charities could support parents of critically ill babies more effectively.

She has now embarked on a sustained programme of advocacy to tackle these issues, working closely with hospitals in Birmingham, Peterborough and Stamford, the national charities Bliss, SANDS and Child Bereavement UK, and the Royal College of Paediatrics’ Children’s Healthcare Ethics and Law Group to disseminate and implement evidence-based recommendations from her thesis.


Staff Changemaker of the Year: The University of Northampton member of staff who has demonstrated a significant commitment to Changemaking, whether as part of their role or external to the University, locally, nationally or internationally.

Kim Stuart, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, for her research and work creating positive change for frail older people and their families.

Kim’s doctoral research evaluated healthcare professionals’ decision making in the care of frail older people at the end of their lives, highlighting important implications for professional practice. Kim believes that there needs to be more focus on developing the competencies of professional decision-makers in the management of frailty, guiding them to consider the holistic needs of the older person within the context of everyday life, including end of life care.

She is dedicated to developing the leadership of all professional groups and incorporating end of life care explicitly into NHS organisational goals for older people.

Her research on frailty has led to her working directly in the NHS to implement and monitor guidance around the management of frailty. Her work is having an impact locally and nationally, making a meaningful contribution to the way healthcare professionals will work with frail older people approaching end of life in the future.

Numerous activities within the healthcare community are being implemented based on Kim’s research, which she is now taking forward in order to impact the practice of healthcare professionals, and the care experience for elderly people and their relatives.

Kim is extremely committed to working towards positive change for frail older people and their families and her research is an excellent illustration of applied research that can make a significant social impact and improve people’s lives.


Student Changemaker of the Year: The University of Northampton student who has demonstrated a significant commitment to Changemaking, whether locally, nationally or internationally.

Marco Pastori, MSc Advanced Professional Practice (Occupational Therapy), for the development of Ready2Play, an inclusive football club for children in Italy.

Marco is a registered Occupational Therapist and has led the development of an inclusive children’s football club in Italy called Ready2Play. The club has an ethos of collaboration and peer support, where children of all abilities work together as a team. The aim of the club is to develop social and physical skills for all children but offers a targeted intervention to children with a learning disability to participate with their peers in a physical activity.

The scheme has two main elements to its structure. The first is providing support to facilitate selfcare skills to manage everyday activities like getting dressed for playing football. The second element is based on promoting social connections and peer friendships across the groups of children to promote inclusivity.

Evaluation following its launch in 2018 has demonstrated that the club has initiated positive change for its members. Parents have reported that the club has had a positive impact on academic achievement and performance and children have been seen to be playing more with their classmates or neighbours outside of school, embedding collaboration and peer relationships outside of the club.

The club has also had a positive impact on the cognitive skills, personal independence and social skills of some of its members.

Marco has fully embraced the Changemaker ethos and this is evident in the success of Ready2Play where children are also encouraged to be Changemakers themselves.


International Changemaker of the Year

HRMI Sri Lanka for their numerous Changemaker initiatives, which centre around benefiting communities that until recently have been cut off from educational opportunities. Initiatives include Kids Next Door and Inspire Careers – working in partnership with a neighbouring state school and individuals to provide access to further education for children in poverty.


Special Achievement Award

Mandy Young, Founder and Developer of Adrenaline Alley

“Mandy is a force of nature and the heartbeat and driving force of Adrenaline Alley and this award tonight is in recognition that Mandy represents a true Changemaker, someone who has passion for making change, recognises that this cannot be done on her own so brings people on board, and who never gives up; change takes time and determination and is never easy, but Mandy has persisted and through Adrenaline Alley continue to change the lives of young people and communities in Corby. Our appreciation of the effort she and everyone associated with the charity have dedicated to their cause”.