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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Young people's health charity steps forward to claim top accolade

16th May 2011

Tower Hamlets-based charity, Step Forward, has beaten more than 400 organisations from around the UK to be crowned the overall winner of this year’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) IMPACT Awards, run in partnership with health think-tank The King’s Fund. The charity picked up their award and £35,000 prize at a ceremony last night, held at London’s Science Museum.

Step Forward impressed a team of judges with its innovative approach to helping more than 2,000 11-25 year olds overcome personal, social and health problems via counselling, advice, training, personal development, and sexual health services provided in partnership with the local primary care trust.

Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, with the second highest population of under-18s in Western Europe, coupled with the third highest level of child poverty in England. It has high levels of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in under-18s, as well as a disproportionate level of family breakdown and poor mental health.

The judges praised Step Forward’s outstanding work in responding to local need – filling crucial gaps in health provision, including therapeutic support to help young people reduce self-harm and address the underlying issues that have led to problems with alcohol and drugs. During 2009, Step Forward was accessed by 2,062 young people – 844 young men and 1,187 young women. Some of the charity’s most notable achievements with hard-to-reach young people in that year include:

  • 644 young people receiving specialist support in Step Forward’s combined sexual health and contraception clinic
  • 96 young people receiving therapeutic support to deal with trauma associated with rape or sexual abuse
  • 96 young people being helped to find ways of reducing their self-harming behaviour
  • 70 young people being supported to address underlying problems that have led them to have problems with alcohol and/or drugs.

The awards – GSK’s flagship UK corporate social responsibility programme – highlight the crucial and often unsung role played by the voluntary sector in meeting health needs among deprived and vulnerable communities, often bridging gaps that statutory services are unable to fill. With NHS and local authority budgets under pressure, the GSK awards provide a vital source of funding for the winners and play a key role in promoting innovation and good practice across the voluntary sector.

Jennifer Fear, Chief Executive of Step Forward said: ‘I am constantly inspired by the resilience and strength of the young people who come through our door. This award will enable Step Forward to help many more young people and allow the organisation to continue to thrive in the years ahead. It is great recognition for the skills and hard work of the staff, volunteers and trustees.’

Sir Christopher Gent, Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline and one of the judges, said:

‘Step Forward defines what the IMPACT awards are about. It has demonstrated a strong focus in targeting and fulfilling the health needs of over 2000 young people, by understanding the local community; and actively engaging with the often hard-to-reach diverse cultures within it.

'Their success is a testament to what can be achieved when charities and the NHS work together effectively. Moreover, Step Forward’s achievements are all the more impressive when you consider that they’ve been achieved on the tightest of budgets- less than £300,000 per year.

'The calibre of entrants this year was extremely high and I commend Step Forward for their innovation - well done to the staff and volunteers who have made it work so well.’

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