Time to vote for the Luton News People's Choice winner as Luton's Best Awards shortlist is revealed

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Public gets the chance to pick its favourite from all the community heroes listed

It's time to reveal which unsung heroes in our community have been shortlisted for the Luton’s Best Awards 2021 - and our readers can have a say in one of the categories too.

The awards, in partnership with Love Luton, celebrate the achievements of truly remarkable individuals and organisations who make Luton a better place. COVID-19 has had an impact on everyone in some way, but since the start of the pandemic, the town has seen some of the most incredible acts of kindness and selflessness across Luton.

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The Luton’s Best awards mission has always been to shine a light on those who do so much for the community. The health crisis has seen everyone pull together and as such the Love Luton partnership felt it was more important than ever to recognise outstanding individuals and organisations.

Vote for the People's Choice winner nowVote for the People's Choice winner now
Vote for the People's Choice winner now

Now, in partnership with the Luton News, they are delighted to announce the shortlisted nominees. For the People’s Choice award, you, the general public, get to vote for your winner from all the candidates.

You have until November 25, 2021, to place your People's Choice vote with the winner being announced at the glittering Luton’s Best Awards ceremony at the Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf and Spa on Friday, December 3.

Those shortlisted are listed below. To place your vote click here...

1. Adult Achiever

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Discover Islam were the People's Choice for 2020Discover Islam were the People's Choice for 2020
Discover Islam were the People's Choice for 2020

A) Basit Mahmood: Basit is a University of Cambridge graduate who decided to go into journalism after growing frustrated at Islamophobia and the way working class and ethnic minority communities were being reported on. He previously worked for Metro and Newsweek and has this year become Editor of Left Foot Forward, despite only working in journalism for four years. Only 0.4% of journalists in the UK are Muslim and less than 11% come from working class backgrounds with 80% of editors privately educated. He has excelled in a profession which is an elitist profession, the second most socially exclusive in the country and hard for ethnic minorities to break into. He has written on things such as child poverty and inequality and run a long week campaign on holiday hunger for the Metro as well as on the state of UK prisons. He has also secured exclusive interviews with leading politicians and written exclusive stories on racism and poverty, leading to changes in policy. Basit has excelled in his career and is one of few BAME editors in the United Kingdom. In his spare time Basit gives back to his local community by delivering workshops for free to community organisations and colleges to inspire young people to go into creative industries and elitist universities. He inspires young people to go into journalism and politics through delivering journalism workshops and explaining the importance the media holds in society. He recently mentored another BAME young person get into journalism. Basit is also one of few Lutonians who are verified on twitter. He also started a podcast in 2021 called the People’s Podcast where he discuss issues such as mental health, austerity and the class divide with prominent experts. As editor of Left Foot Forward Basit is giving opportunities to those from working class backgrounds and underrepresented groups to write for the website. He has also setup a community interest company called Grow Your Potential aimed at improving social mobility for young people in Luton through careers advice, mentoring and workshops. He is involved in delivering arts & crafts projects, football projects and one to one mentoring to young people. Whilst managing a full-time editorial job Basit gives back to his local community and wants to continue to.do so to help his local town. He is continuing to support and mentor local young people to get into journalism, politics and break class barriers.

B) Hina Shafi: Hina is perusing her passion in sports, both volunteering and in her education. She is currently studying Sociology and Ethics of Sports at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she is working to publish her research on why there is low South Asian women’s participation in sports, whilst giving recommendations on how to increase this. Alongside her studies, she is now also an FA regional youth member, where she hopes to network with a wide range of individuals and gain experience to secure a career within the women’s and girls game. Hina consistently goes back to her secondary school to deliver speeches on the importance of education and how to break barriers to continue with your passion, as this was something Hina had to do. She also speaks on different radio stations on her opinion on sports, the benefits you gain when playing and finally on wellbeing. She has been invited on BBC Asian radio a few times and has spoken on her opinions on that. She is very passionate about combining mental health and sports and will be running a project for the FA in early January in Luton. Hina is the youngest Vice Chair of Bedfordshire Police Scrutiny Panel. The role of Bedfordshire's Community Scrutiny Panel is to hold the police to account for how they use their powers including stop and search and use of force. From a young age Hina recognised the importance of community cohesion and the immense benefits gained when we work together in harmony and listen to one another. However, she has also recognised the need to address the publics anxieties and to work with the police to make a positive change in our communities. Therefore, she put her name forward to be part of the conversation to help answer the questions. In 2019, she graduated in Sports Development and Physical Education from the University of Northampton. Hina's dissertation paper explored how South Asian culture affects women’s participation in sports. The reason as to why she explored this topic is because she had to break barriers and fight to study sports once her GCSEs were done. She is now going on to continue her studies at Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying Masters in Sociology and Ethics of Sports. Hina is passionate about increasing chances for under-represented communities through the power of sport so that they can thrive on and off the field. She is working with the FA and BBC to publish her work. Hina is an advocate for women in sports. She is also an alumni for Challney girls. She uses her time there to speak to the students about the importance of education and following their passion. Alongside this, she also educates the girls on the many doors available if they want a career in sports as this was a barrier Hina faced due to cultural thinking. She is passionate about breaking barriers for South Asian females.

2. Best Fundraiser

A) Shaun Dury: Shaun has been on a quite mission throughout Covid-19 to raise money for the L&D hospital. He single handedly has gone above and beyond to raise over £18,000 to buy specialist equipment needed in the NICU unit at the L&D from his own experiences of needing the hospital when his son was born. His want to quietly go unnoticed, shows pure integrity and as a local business man who has a lighting company and just his passion to do good in the community for a hospital and his community that needed assistance to raise funds.

B) Sabine Hazell: Over the past 18 months Sabine has overcome many obstacles in supporting schools fundraising for the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Sabine has worked with a local company to produce a schools fundraising film, overcoming COVID obstacles like social distancing, schools closing to support in isolating pupils and staff and a need to be onsite to film. She has worked with these schools to produce this film safely and within a tight budget. Working with our local schools Sabine has still raised a fantastic amount for the Trust including equipment for the Paediatric wards, retro handsets for our elderly wards and upgrading one of the hospital's gardens with the St Mary's Garden Project. During these projects Sabine has worked with local companies and teams within the hospital to make these projects happen. Due to the pandemic Sabine has found new ways to fundraise safely for our schools and has changed the way she works to still be a support to them but in a safe way. Sabine has also worked to support the NHS Big Tea and continues to work on future projects like the Light up a Life and Give a Gift Appeals. During Christmas as the Trust was unable to have local choirs come and sing for patients, Sabine organised for videos of schools singing to be played on the wards which put a smile on many patients faces during what was the toughest year for patients due to restricted visiting.

3. Best Volunteer

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A) Referral Order Panel Volunteers for the Youth Offending Service: Since the advent of COVID and the restrictions put in place to protect us all the Referral Order Panel Volunteers have continued to provide an exceptional service to Luton Youth Offending Service, the young people of Luton and their families. The role requires trained volunteers to attend Referral Order Panel meetings with young people who have offended and as are result are given Referral Order’s at court. They work together with the young person and their family to develop a contract of work which the young person is to complete while on their Order. The contract of work focuses on the needs and strengths of the young person while addressing their offending behaviour and the factors associated with that behaviour. The panel and the contract aims to be restorative enabling young people to take responsibility for their behaviour and achieve re-integration into their community. Panel members are required to be aware of and act within the legal framework and guidance set down by the Youth Offending Service, Ministry of Justice and other government departments. They also have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people and are expected to work in line with local safeguarding policies and procedures. The Referral Order Panel Volunteers continue to work tirelessly with LYOS and the young people of Luton adapting and overcoming the many barriers in the move to panels virtual in early 2020. They have tackled getting to grips with multiple virtual platforms with vigour and embraced the increase in panel frequency. This enabled panel and LYOS to continue to show the young people and their families that we were here working to support them at a time when many services in their support network were closed or reduced. The panel are described as warm and friendly, while adapting their language and communication skills to suit the additional needs of each young person, enabling their voice to be heard. They encourage each young person to think of their future past the life the their order, mindful of the positives of education and training, supporting them to try and see their true potential. The Referral Order Panel Volunteers continue to devote many hours to the service in reading and analysing of reports to attending the face to face panels. The message to the young people in our town is that of inclusivity, showing them they belong and are wanted and needed.

B) The Arriva Volunteer Team: The Big Trunk Trail trumpeted into Luton’s parks and landmarks on the 10 July and brought the COVID-isolated community of Luton back together after a tricky 16 months. What most people won’t know is that there was a volunteer team behind the scenes who literally made it happen. They are a group of complete superstar staff from Arriva whose day jobs are Field Publicity and Maintenance (Wayne and Bryan) and bus drivers (Sarah, Alex and Francis). During the pandemic they not only became the Touch Point and COVID Cleaning team, ensuring Arriva’s buses were clean and disinfected everyday but they also formed the volunteer group who helped Keech Hospice Care move a herd of elephants and create lasting memories for our amazing community! Despite the team’s working day for Arriva starting at 3am, they were available day and night for the charity. A trumpeting text for help was all it took for the team to be wherever Keech and their Big Trunk Trail elephants needed them. Liz Searle, CEO of Keech Hospice Care, said “We are truly in awe of everything the Arriva team have done to help us deliver The Big Trunk Trail to the people of Luton. Getting a project the size of The Big Trunk Trail off the ground is a challenge anyway, but having these amazing volunteers by our side to make it a reality during a pandemic whilst also doing their day-job is truly awe-inspiring." Along the way, this terrific team of volunteers helped deliver some very special secret assignments and never let the cat (or should that be elephant calf!) out of the bag) including unveiling elephants for Nadiya Hussain and Hannah Ingram-Moore, Captain Tom’s daughter. On Friday 9 July, they were part of a huge team responsible for getting the herd into position on the trail which gave thousands such delight and in the early hours of Friday 8 October, they were the team who brought the elephants off the trail (in record time) back to their original home, the painting space in The Mall. It is fair to say that this valiant team of volunteers have gone above and beyond to help Keech Hospice Care deliver their 30th anniversary gift to Luton.

4. Care in the Community

A) Luton Irish Forum: The Covid pandemic meant that we had to adapt our services, but we are proud to say that we continued to provide services, albeit via phone and online for much of the year April 2020 to March 2021. This involved great resilience from a small staff team and a group of remarkable Queens Award winning volunteers to achieve the following outcomes for Luton’s Irish, Irish Traveller and other communities. 10,579 contacts were made including 4,807 calls and 500 visits at our reception. 7,182 people followed us across our social media platforms. 3,315.5 of volunteering hours were contributed at a total value of £39,561.35. 2,107 befriending/wellbeing calls were made to more than 100 different people. 1,015 attendances to our social groups in person plus 1,770 attendances via Zoom were recorded by 164 different people. 1,000 positive welfare outcomes were recorded, including £975k in financial gains and £2,326 distributed from the surviving winter fund. 889 individuals benefitted directly from our services. 500 people accessed a vaccine pop up in our car park. 441 individuals seeking welfare advice were worked with on 595 cases. 375 people have subscribed to LIF membership. 302 shopping trips were made to 25 different people. 284 people accessed our young people and intergenerational events and activities. 100 people were helped to secure their Irish passport application. 80 people were provided with social distanced Christmas lunches at LIF or delivered to their door. 41 clients were represented in challenging decision at Mandatory Reconsideration. 25 Irish Travellers were supported in Bedford HMP. 18 candidates enrolled in the newly formed Luton Digital Skills Project. 16 clients were supported to participate in welfare benefit tribunals. We were thrilled to welcome our members back to our social groups in May. To meet the Covid-Safe’ guidelines, the number of attendees at each session was limited and had other measures in place to maintain LIF as a Covid-Safe location.

B) Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat: Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat, is a Sikh Gurudwara (Temple) that is based in the heart of the town. In recent years it has transformed itself into a community and learning base. Situated in walking distance of highly deprived wards of Hightown, Biscot, Dallow and Farley it has been able to offer predominately deprived and BAME communities community learning and health and wellbeing support. The congregation of Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat in Luton is one of the smaller groups within the town, representing less than 2% of the whole population. Despite this the community has pulled together to support others that have been most affected during the pandemic. Initially setting up an online fundraiser to reach a target of £1000, the community raised in excess of £20,000. This has allowed the Ravidassia community to provide support for key workers and those hit hardest by the virus. Focusing on the principles of seva (selfless service) the community recruited and continuously motivated a pool’ of dedicated volunteers. The concept of seva is central to the Sikh faith. Selflessly serving other people is considered an essential devotional practice. By focusing on this principle it has ensured that there is always a sufficient rota of volunteers to help with daily duties. Within Sikh temples langar is the term used to describe the community kitchen, where a free meal is served to all visitors, without distinction of who you are or where you are from. During the pandemic volunteers have been assisting in all the preparation and distribution of daily outreach langar. Throughout the pandemic Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat has provided in excess of 21,000 hot meals over 42 weeks to organisations including other faiths and communities across Luton. This has included Hope Church, Salvation Army, YMCA, Go Dharmic, Changing Lives for Ever Womens Aid, Key Stage Housing and Noah Enterprise. During the first lockdown in recognition of Luton’s large Muslim community, the Temple supported the Muslim community during Ramadan by providing dates (an essential food to break the fasting) and cooked meals for the front line key workers such as Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire Service, the Luton Irish Form, and NHS staff at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital. Additionally, the fund enabled the purchase of over 5,000 items of snacks, drinks, fruit, personal hygiene products and PPE equipment for frontline staff. The outbreak of COVID 19 has had significant detrimental impact on many peoples' lives but the small Sikh community in Luton has put their faith into action by supporting keyworkers and helping those facing hardship stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.

5. Child of Courage

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A) George Agar: George (10) spent nearly 3 years growing his blonde hair long in order to cut it and donate it to The Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children who have lost their hair through illness. He suffered physical and emotional bullying due to his long hair but not once did he want to give up. He thinks bullies are 'annoying' but didn't listen to them thankfully. Not only has he donated 12 inches of his hair to the charity but has also raised 1.5k so far for them too. His next ambition is to raise awareness to this charity and encourage more boys to grow their hair and donate it!

B) Alfie Robinson: Alfie Robinson, aged 10, has been truly inspirational during the last year. Alfie was bullied in year 5 within his school year and struggled with the impact this had on him and his well-being, he couldn’t understand why other children would act this way towards him especially after the difficulty of the pandemic. Alfie didn’t miss any time off school and decided he would use his experience to make a difference to others, with this in mind he set up his own campaign @shinealightwithalfie, he used this to raise awareness on the impact of bullying & mental health. This involved Alfie designing posters and writing to people & companies to support his campaign. He developed a presentation & talked about his experience to his school class & designed a poster for the school reception area and every classroom. He has gained support from the Bedfordshire PCC, The Children’s Commissioner, Ditch The Label, LTFC, Bedford Town, TOKKO, Indigo estate agent, Nu Branding & many others. Alfie’s aim is to continue raising awareness & making a difference for other children, he would like to become a anti bullying ambassador moving forwards.

6. Community Business Person

A) Montell Neufville: Montell has worked in the Luton community for a number of years. He currently leads Att10tive Social Enterprise which has been established to deliver training, support and advice to a range of public, private and charitable organisations such as businesses, Schools, colleges and Local Authorities as well as charities and voluntary groups, principally in the Luton and Bedfordshire area. His mission is to build cohesion and encourage communities to work in harmony. Through our activities, we encourage people to show respect, consideration and empathy to others particularly those who come from different cultures, ethnicities, religions and areas to themselves. He supports the programme through a youth ambassadors scheme and these young people then use what they’ve learnt to be role models in their community and develop others. The work Montell does with young people giving them a voice and developing their skills is incredible. His work has never been recognised before, yet he has supported hundreds of young people. Many go on to university and secure jobs. Alongside this he chairs the CLLD programme awarding many local projects across the town. In addition, he leads the group for the Creative Forum. Montell optimises the meaning of community business person and deserves this recognition for the real difference he has made to developing and supporting young people.

B) Liz Searle: Liz, Keech Hopsice Care CEO, has led Luton’s healthcare community through the pandemic and brought a COVID-isolated community back together with The Big Trunk Trail, the biggest community art event Luton has ever seen. Two huge achievements in the toughest year the hospice and the community have ever faced. A nurse who worked her way up the ranks to become the first woman to take the helm of an adults and children’s hospice, Liz has shown a commitment to Luton’s community which is second to none. Liz has always strived for the best for Luton, and this is no more evident that during the pandemic. Despite lockdown switching 70% of the hospice’s income off overnight, Liz galvanised the hospice team who became a hub for COVID-19 care, including converting their Wellbeing Centre into a blood transfusion centre to ease the pressure on local hospitals. The hospice became a distributor of PPE to the East, and an educator leading the way on information and understanding on how to deliver end-of-life care, including a COVID-19 symptom management plan to aide care providers in managing this unknown virus from the East. Thanks to the strong lines of communications Liz has forged with the NHS, the East of England hospices and our wider community, Luton healthcare providers were able to keep in step with the COVID-19 emergency. At the height of the pandemic, Liz helped on the wards, alongside the charity’s in-patient team, standing shoulder to shoulder with the NHS on the frontline caring for COVID-19 patients. Prior to the pandemic, Liz had had an initial germ of an idea of creating an event to thank the Luton community for its unwavering support during the charity’s thirtieth year. Through hard work and determination, Liz managed to secure one of only eight international art trails happening in 2021 for Luton The Big Trunk Trail. Liz’s commitment to Luton and strive for the hospice to become a leader in its field will leave a lasting legacy on our community for years to come.

7. Community Company of the Year

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A) Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation: BLCF is the leading local grantmaker in the county establishing a national reputation for an innovative, community-focussed and strategic approach. 2021 marks their 20th anniversary and in that time, the Foundation has given out over £15m through over 2,324 grants to charities, people and volunteer led organisations across the whole of Bedfordshire. In Luton, over the last 3 years, they have awarded £7,923,463 across 295 grants to 144 organisations benefiting 556,724 people. Of this £330,000 was awarded in emergency support during the Covid-19 pandemic. An extraordinary achievement for their small dedicated and agile team of 7 who adapted to home working and managed to secure a large share of the National Emergency Trust Fund for Luton and Bedfordshire. The team secured the money, set up a grants programme and distributed it to this in most need in 3 week, adapting and responding to the crisis in a professional but also kind and caring way. Their hard work ensured food banks were set up and open and delivering within day of lockdown and that our network of small but vitally important charities and voluntary sector groups didn't fail but are still with us today to help rebuild our communities and economy.

B) Keech Hospice Care: Thirty years ago, Doctor Wink White and his wife Iris had a dream to give a precious gift to Luton. With the help of a small group of people, they made that dream a reality by creating Keech Hospice Care a hospice created by the community for the community. Their vision was to create a place of expertise, a place to care for adults, children and their families at a time in their lives when they needed it most. Thirty years on, the charity continues to share its knowledge and led Luton’s healthcare community through the pandemic whilst bringing a COVID-isolated community back together with The Big Trunk Trail. Within days of lockdown, the hospice’s education team ran virtual training sessions for local external health professionals, upskilling them in end-of-life care and wrote a COVID-19 symptom management plan to aide care providers in managing this unknown virus from the East so they could give their patients the best care possible. Keech’s care team donned its PPE and continued visiting life-limited and terminally ill patients in their own homes. Often being the only faces vulnerable people in isolation would see. For others it provided a virtual lifeline alongside doorstep and garden visits. Keech’s Wellbeing Centre was also converted into a blood transfusion centre to ease the pressure on local hospitals and unbeknown to many people, the charity’s in-patient team stood shoulder to shoulder with the NHS on the frontline caring for COVID-19 patients. The team used technology and relayed messages through the hospice windows to loved ones outside unable to come in to ensure families got the chance to say goodbye. Overnight, many patients in the community lost their support network. Keech’s community teams stepped in and became their families. From food shops, to ordering prescriptions and liaising with consultants for results and treatment, the team went the extra mile 24/7. At the height of the pandemic, Keech launched a hugely successful Bereavement service to support anyone in the Luton community whose loved one had died.

8. Environmental Achievement

A) Chantry Primary Academy Green Team: The team has shown outstanding effort, enthusiasm, energy and commitment to Luton's green spaces. Members range from aged 8 - 11 and have joined The Green Team as they want to clean up our local green spaces, learn about the environment and role model these values to others. On clean up events they arrive in the mini bus with Mr Kelly and Ms Henry full of laughter, chatter and can not wait to start cleaning up. Working in pairs they spend the next 2 hours seeking out litter and items that should not live in our beautiful parks and green spaces. It is wonderful to observe their different characters, two particular girls pay close attention to detail making sure every last small piece of litter is picked up, others count each piece of litter with totals quickly reaching 100! Mr Kelly ensures a great atmosphere with his portable speaker around his shoulder, his relaxed and confident manner enabling the children to be adventurous and creative as they work out how to remove hard to reach items. Each member of this team has shown great commitment most coming to every event a real testament of their undertaking to create a better environment for all to enjoy (especially animals they often remark that spaces are now much safer for wildlife after litter has been removed). This awesome team also undertook to remove litter and weeds along Vauxhall Way on very hot day at the end of their summer term. Using spades, brooms and lots of energy they cleared a large section. This particular area is normally cleared by adults who find it challenging, the children really gave it their all.

B) Trevor Tween: Trevor first came into service for Luton more than 30 years ago when he was recruited to work on an urban wildlife project in Luton. He has worked tirelessly to protect the wildlife and wild places of the town ever since. Bradgers Hill, Leagrave Common, Warden Hill and many other nature reserves places inbetween survive and are well managed because of Trevor's efforts as Luton’s Senior Ecology Officer. The fact that Cowslip Meadow and Dallow Downs are nationally important is in large part tribute to his dogged determination. His knowledge of heritage and natural history of the town is outstanding and he takes great pleasure in sharing that knowledge with all who are interested to know more. As the Senior Field Officer for the John Dony Centre on Bushmead estate, Trevor was responsible for introducing tens of thousands of Luton schoolchildren to the countryside as they encountered conservation and syllabus coursework tasks in their latter teenage years. Recently, Trevor has helped Penrtose Roots to Recovery to improve biodiversity at the Bide-a-while allotment and restoration and management of the adjacent orchard. The results of his passion and tenacity in his work is evidenced by the fact that the borough now have 3 sites that are designated sites of special scientific interest. Trevor co-ordinates the Luton and Dunstable Conservation Volunteers and is never happier than when he is out on site with a great bunch of volunteers scrub bashing! He has secured Stewardship Agreements to finance management of sites across the borough to ensure appropriate management. He was heavily involved in ensuring that the Luton and Dusnstable Busway had some positive outcomes for biodiversity and that the relocation of slow worms and orchids to other appropriate sites was managed in an appropriate manner. In the last twelve months, Trevor’s support and advice has helped a local conservation group The Friends of Bradgers Hill to partner with the Wildlife Trust to secure £250,000 of lottery funding to introduce a wider range of young people to natural heritage.

9. Keeping Luton Safe

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A) The Safer Luton Partnership: Their work is fundamentally aimed at keeping Luton safe. They deliver over 12 different projects that work with people who have been victims of crime but also perpetrators. 1) Their ASB Victims and Witnesses Champion has become an integral component of Luton’s ASB victims response services. Intervention on offer to clients include: Home Visits, One to one support, Regular updates as to the progress of their case, Liaising with relevant partners on behalf of clients, Passing on clients concerns onto relevant partners, Multi-agency case meetings, Providing information regarding the rights of the victims and witnesses, Level of service the victims & witnesses can expect from the council & police, Referrals onto other relevant partner, Support completing forms, Orientation visits to court, Support in Court, Support to get to and from court where required. The Luton SOS Bus has for over the last 10 years has provided this service solely staffed by their trained team of dedicated volunteers, and 2 staff members, supporting those in need during the night-time economy and daytime community public events. This service has provided direct lifesaving interventions and treatment to members of the public, supplied hundreds of free refreshments, blankets and medical support to the homeless. 2) Teenage Domestic Abuse Project. Relationship abuse is when there is actual or threatened abuse within a romantic relationship or a former relationship. One partner will try to maintain power and control over the other. This abuse can take a number of forms: physical, sexual, financial, emotional or social. This includes coercive and controlling behaviour. Their project is a focused on what constitutes a healthy relationship and supports young people who want to leave a relationship but feel unable to because of fear or retribution. 3) Young People. The SLP works with young people referred to the project to tackle the issues that affect them. Some of this work includes: Listening, Providing Resources like Meals, Bus fares etc, Innovative and Creative Training, Connect them to positive people and change their friendship group, Give them a Mentor. They support young people and their families through difficult periods without labelling or judging them through a range of initiatives aimed at meeting their personal, social an education needs. These can be delivered through one-to-one support or through group activities. They also provide a range of training for young people to help increase confidence, and build their self esteem. 4) Older People,. They do an extensive amount of work with the elderly and vulnerable. This includes all the victims work but we also run events to provide them with and Information, Advice and Guidance on a diversity of issues. They run personal safety sessions for the elderly and for those who work or care for them. These include sessions on doorstep crime, fraud and scams. In the last 12 months they have supported 21,586 people across Luton, making sure that they keep them safe and keep Luton Safe.

B) Winston West: Winston has been part of the NOAH Housing First Team since the pilot launched in 2018. The project revolutionises the typical approach to supporting homeless people by instead immediately offering them their own home and access to intensive floating tenancy support to keep this. After experiencing his own challenges of addiction as a young black man in Luton Winston has shown amazing courage and resilience to turn his life around and leave this in the past. He now supports people who have been long term rough sleepers to obtain and settle into their own flat, none of his clients have since returned back to homelessness. He completes a comprehensive care plan which seeks to understand each person as an individual and gets to know their past, their present and their future aspirations. Winston also supports clients who say that they want friendship by taking them to meals out and to Laser Quest to build a positive collaborative community for people. He believes in the potential and the opportunities available for each person and will always try and open doors so that they can enjoy the best possible lives. He is emotionally resilient and consistent and plays an important part in supporting newer colleagues in the NOAH team. On more than one occasion during the Covid-19 pandemic Winston has visited someone in their home in Luton and been surprised and concerned to see that their home is occupied by other people who are causing problems. Sometimes the tenant was present and sometimes they were away. Winston is very protective of his clients, some of whom have been victims of cuckooing in the past. He does not put himself in unnecessary danger but will be very clear with someone in letting them know that they need to leave the address and he will protect the vulnerable person. His colleagues will always come and help if needed but Winston generally prefers to have the conversation himself. Over the years his loyalty and commitment to his clients has meant that they have each come to enjoy and settle in safety in their homes after previous periods of fear and concern from unwanted visitors who had come to harass and steal from them. Winston empowers people to take control of their own lives and leave homelessness behind.

10. Lifetime Achievement

A) Lucky Begum - posthumous: After being seriously ill with COVID, Lucky Begum sadly lost her battle with the virus in May this year. Her loss is felt not only by her family, friends and colleagues in Luton, but also by so many others whom she made a lasting impression on and whose lives she helped to change for the better. Lucky began working in the voluntary sector in 2003 at Aanchal Women’s Aid in London. After moving to Luton, she joined Luton All Women’s Centre (LAWC) in 2008, working on several projects before becoming the centres Forced Marriage and Honour-based Abuse Coordinator in 2009. In recent years, Lucky was LAWCs Senior Adviser and Harmful Practices Coordinator. Lucky had a vibrant, warm and friendly character. She often helped to organise fun events and activities for the women who came to LAWC (everything from Christmas and Eid parties to Zumba). At the mention of her name, most people recall her infectious smile that immediately made everyone feel welcome and at ease. Lucky was a wife, a mother, an adviser, a friend, a colleague, but the words that people from across Luton.

B) Chief Fire Officer, Paul Fuller CBE - posthumous: Paul sadly passed away in June 2021, just weeks before he was due to retire. He died after a short illness with his family at his side. His loss has been felt by many across Bedfordshire. Paul joined the fire service in 1978, going on to lead the Bedfordshire brigade in 2002. He was appointed a CBE by the Queen in 2016 and appointed deputy lieutenant of Bedfordshire in 2017. He was an avid fund-raiser for several charities, including The Fire Fighters Charity and the Children's Burns Trust. His contribution to the UK fire and rescue service was recognised in 2008 when he was awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal, and he was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2012. Paul was also hugely passionate about Love Luton and everyone loved his camaraderie at the Luton’s Best Awards.

11. Luton in Harmony

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A) Sanda Hayes: Although Sandra is a council employee she delivers as many hours again in a personal capacity demonstrating her commitment to making Luton a great place to live and work. She has over numerous years been a beacon of the Luton in Harmony campaign which is aimed at bringing our communities together. She lives an breathes this philosophy in both her paid and unpaid work. Her commitment to delivering this principle is unquestionable. Sandra commits ours of her time beyond the job to being at community events, gatherings discussion and debates across the town to listen to what people are saying and to act on suggestions and challenges. She is instrumental bringing people together and to create opportunities to embrace the nature of the Luton in Harmony concept. Sandra has been an advocate in reinforcing the message that we will challenge violent extremist ideology, wherever it comes from, and unite the town in supporting, giving voice to, and celebrating our diversity. Her actions are loud and clear, and she uses every chance to highlight the positive aspects of Luton. She not only always promotes the town but challenges negativity at all levels when it comes creating a cohesive town. Sandra is well respected by all the communities of Luton. She has developed a good working relationship with them which comes from not only spending time with them but attending their events and special occasions, many times in her own time. The community does not view Sandra as an employee but a friend who values them and them and their communities. She is concerned about their issues and supportive in helping them. Every community has time for Sandra and Sandra has time for every community group. She goes beyond the expectations of her role in community development. Sandra has been instrumental in bringing communities together to talk, to discuss and debate and to challenge misconceptions. She has been a valuable and key person in helping to tackle community conflicts and to find resolutions and positive working relationships that develop future respect between groups and individuals. There are many people who are committed to creating a harmonious Luton, but Sandra lives and breathes this. This can be seen in all she does and say. She is a true advocate of the initiative, undertaking the work in her quiet, self-assured way.

B) JP Smith, Boxing Saves Lives: JP established Boxing Luton a few years ago when he began promoting our local boxers and would help them publicise themselves, and would attend events and report on them for the Luton News, which then led to him doing interviews with the fighters and the gym staff, which he would write up for the paper or post to social media. He then began researching into how our boxing gyms can help people in our local community, and in March 2020 he created the CIC Boxing Saves Lives. He tirelessly works on this project, making connections with local organisations that can support people, and in the meantime working full time (from home since March 20), with a young family too. He sacrifices so much time to his vision of helping people to stay away from crime, to have the strength to say no, or to turn their lives around if this is already a path they have followed. He has a great belief that helping people of all ages get into boxing gyms, will help them find self worth, discipline, a support network, and a strength. That it will help their mental and physical health. During Lockdown he worked with the PCC and the James Campbell Collective to support people virtually. Since then he has continued, with funding from others, ie the VERU. He worked closely with the network he has built to provide fitness classes and inspiring interviews with local boxers, coaches, and more, to show how boxing and the connection with the gyms can help you, virtually and in person. He is inspiring, and the work he does is incredible, many a day, evening, weekend of his own time given to his passion to help people. He has full ambitions to continue his work and make a difference in the local community, whatever life throws at him, JP takes it and turns it round to be a positive. Always striving for the next opportunity and never really taking any credit for what he has done. He gives so much time to making connections, research and visiting people and places to find out how they can help, and help and support them in return. Since the return of schools in March 2021, he has established Boxing Saves Lives sessions in schools with his team of coaches. At the end of the academic year they had been in over 13 schools. The feedback from these sessions is incredible as to the difference they are making to young people, building self esteem, self worth and more. Boxing Saves Lives supports all young people, working with many professionals, ie the youth offending team, to provide sessions for individuals too.

12. Luton’s most outstanding citizen 2021

A) Rehana Faisal: In all Rehana does in the Luton community there is one thing that underlies her approach. She is a mum. She cares. Guided and sustained by her faith as a deeply committed Muslim woman, Rehanas concern extends way beyond the boundaries of her own family and faith community to embrace so many, and especially the young. Rehana is always a major go-to person for many in her community and beyond who need advice, practical help, a listening ear, or simply connections. From the first days of the pandemic in early 2020 that role just multiplied. But its particular focus was on addressing digital poverty though what became Luton Learning Link, joining forces with High Sheriff Susan Lousada and many others to provide laptops, tablets and Wi-fi to many in Luton and Bedfordshire. As Summer 2021 emerged this tireless woman announced the formation of Raise Up Foundation to bring together many in our community to support and advance young people and their families. She now chairs the charity based in two houses in Biscot on the site of the former All Saints Community Centre, and they have already run a four week summer school, giving many young people opportunity to decompress as we came out of lockdown. And to cap it, on A-level results day she and a number of colleagues were available to young people needing advice and help with university applications. Rehana is quite simply a hero of the lockdown. Mum to a young and growing family, Rehana supports her husband Faisal in running a mosque in Challney. She works closely with many of Luton's mosques through the two councils of mosques for both the good of the Muslim community and their work in the wider town. She chairs Lantern, supporting Muslim women and amplifying their voice. She is a regular contributor to discussion and activity in Luton Council of Faiths. She is a founder, trustee and co-chair of FACES, Faiths Against Child Sexual Exploitation, bringing together Christians and Muslims in strengthening resilience within faith communities and working to protect children by enhancing awareness and understanding of CSE. Rehana has been a tireless voice against racism, Islamophobia and injustice. She has worked closely with Bedfordshire Police, working to challenge Hate Crime, and closely with their senior leadership. She served as a regular member of Luton's Community Cohesion Contingency planning group for some years, working with police, local authority and people across the community to challenge the impact of far right demonstrations in the town. And between 2016-2021 she has been a member of the Local Action Group of the Community Led Local Development fund. Finally over the past four years Rehana has chaired the governing body of Challney Girls School, investing deeply in many aspects of the schools life.

B) Dr Tahir Mehmood: Dr Mehmood is providing charitable work at local and national level. People in Luton know that Dr Mehmood have always gone extra miles to provide care in the community. Being a local GP Dr Mehmood working in a deprived area , he has a great understanding of his community .His unique charity work during pandemic with Kings College London is highly appreciated by the BAME community. His work with Kings College London has also received a national attention. In this charity project Dr Mehmood made COVID-19 information videos for the BAME community in their native languages ie Bangladeshi, Pahari, Urdu and Punjabi. Therefore Dr Mehmood has played a vital role reducing spread and risk of COVID -19 infection in the BAME community in the United Kingdom and abroad by Dr Mehmood providing timely and accurate information and health tips to the target groups. Whilst working selflessly he fell ill with COVID-19 infection but fortunately recovered after few weeks of illness . This illness made him to do non stop efforts to save his community from COVID infection. Additionally Dr Mehmood provides FREE CARE to unprivileged members of the society who cannot access mainstream heath service. Dr Mehmood provides FREE mentoring to those young kids in Luton those who aspire to be future doctors in the UK. Dr Mehmood is plying an active role in the community against knife crime by holding talks with the youngsters and the families.

13. Keyworker of the Year

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A) Dawn Dudley: In her role of business manager at a small school, Dawn kept the school going during the dark, difficult and uncertain days of the pandemic. She has always formed part of the heart of Someries Juniors, but her skills, compassion and organisation came to the fore during these difficult times for the school community. Right through the lockdown, Dawn staffed the school office and served the school - the staff, parents and children - with dedication and skill. She worked promptly and thoroughly to ensure that the site was safe for the return of pupils and her risk assessment was used a model for other schools. As well as her efficient administration and site management, Dawn's compassion for the most vulnerable members of the school community was evident throughout: she worked tirelessly to ensure that families-in-need got their food vouchers, supporting families with online processes, delivering vouchers and parcels herself and coming in during the holidays to sure that families had access to food; for vulnerable staff, Dawn made individual risk assessments and made sure that every colleague had whatever they needed to feel safe at work. Because Dawn was so calm and purposeful going above and beyond to make school safe - this helped others feel at ease at a time when they felt genuine concern about the state of the pandemic. Dawn has been office manager for over 10 years. Throughout that time, she has fully espoused the ethos of the school, combining excellent administrative efficiency with a sensitive understanding of childrens and parents needs and a good sense of humour. As well as managing the finances, medical needs, HR and correspondence, she is to be seen setting up McMillan coffee mornings and harvest festival donations or dressed up for World Book Day! As a key worker in a local community school, Dawn is highly competent across the many areas of her role. Dawn is highly experienced and this is demonstrated in the quality and efficiency of her work which is completed on time and to a high standard. Consistently, she shows initiative in getting tasks done and in looking out for ways to keep school community safe and to keep the school running smoothly.

B) Dr Tahir Mehmood: Dr Mehmood is one of the best GPs in Luton Town. He is always very enthusiastic and supportive towards helping the local community beyond his own patients. He worked diligently during the pandemic towards raising awareness about wearing masks and other protective measures to help restrict the spread of infection. When the vaccination arrived, Dr Mehmood once again was at the forefront in educating those who were against it. Since joining the medical profession, Dr Mehmood has been working hard for his community. He has received many awards and recognition for his work. Namely, the community award earlier this year, the GP of the year award in 2014 and the the highly commended practice award by Royal College RCGP. He is also the Coron Awareness project's leader for the Pahari videos. These videos are used to communicate all project mesages to the public. Similarly, he is the head of the Luton Kotli Foundation and has always ensured that people who are not able to communicate in English can access important health information and advice through his seminars and events.

14. Sporting Inspiration

A) Luton Lions: Nominated for their phenomenal achievements at this and previous year's London Marathon, Love Luton Half Marathon, Luton Park run and more. Starting with a vision to get more people in the Asian community active Team Luton Lions are now a group of 40+ regular runners setting new goals and achieving greater and greater things. Team Luton Lions embody a positive image of Luton promoting the town, raising huge amounts of money for charity (this year almost £80k for Children with Cancer) and spreading the message of health and well being. Each and everyone acting as a role model and ambassador for our town.

B) Eric Phillips: Eric has made a vast voluntary contribution to the Luton community over the last 40 years. Eric volunteered at SALTO Gymnastics Club for over 35 years, coaching thousands of gymnasts over that time, including world championship medal winning tumblers. He would finish working in London and head straight to the gym club, rather than going home to have his dinner and relax, to coach for several hours on many evenings a week and would also spend hours at the gym every weekend, or travelling up and down the country to support his gymnasts in competitions, often having to stay overnight, away from his family. Eric retired from coaching a few years ago, as he felt physically unable to support the gymnasts safely and instead of taking a break from volunteering, he continues to be a voluntary Trustee of the club (using his own time to attend meetings and events) and also spends evenings mentoring new coaches, in order to support the next batch of talented coaches throughout their coaching journey. When Eric retired from his banking job in London roughly 5 years ago, he immediately sought to further support the Luton community by volunteering many hours a week at Luton Food Bank. As the pandemic struck, he was extremely disappointed to have to cease this support, due to the risks of his age, but as soon as he was aware that Covid testing and vaccination centres were in need of volunteers, he put himself forward. Eric continues to support the vaccination centres, travelling numerous times a week across to the other side of Luton to offer his services. As well as all of this, Eric can be seen supporting his own local community by attending litter picks and other such community activities.

15. Young Achiever

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A) Oliver Doherty: This Luton student had plenty to write home about after national success at the annual Show Racism the Red Card school competition. Oliver, aged 11 from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Luton won the Year 5-6 Creative Writing category for his anti-racism poem. The initiative has been running for 22 years and has become the biggest equalities competition in the UK with over 23,600 entrants this year from more than 340 schools. Oliver said: "I entered the competition as part of a home learning task set for us. We had to create a song, poem or poster and I chose poetry because I enjoy writing it. I felt that it was really important try my best as it is such an important issue. I'm so proud to have won the competition. It means so much to me."

B) Joy Stock: Joy, age 11, was very creative in lockdown with her fundraising for the Luton & Dunstable Hospital. She created Mr Hugley in Lockdown with her giant teddy bear. Each day he would post doing different antics and activities (ironing, camping, sports, gardening etc) to reflect lockdown life: hobbies taken up, chores, jobs worked, things missed etc. For 100 days in lockdown #1 he appeared daily. He then appeared at least another 150 times in subsequent lockdowns. Together they raised over £6174. Mr Hugley has become quite the local celebrity and has fans all over the world! Joy has received letters from the Queen, Captain Tom, Boris Johnson, Kate & William and more. She’s got 2 blue Peter badges, has appeared on CBBC, been on local & national radio and in many newspaper articles. With her mum, she self published 2 books (and hopes to do a 3rd) about Mr Hugley’s antics. All the royalties of these books go to the hospital. Her main aim was to make people smile and she certainly did that. She was then inspired by Captain Tom to raise money and set a target of £1000 which she quickly exceeded.

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