INSPIRATIONAL individuals and organisations were honoured for their contribution to the community at the annual Heart of Salford Awards.

More than 350 people attended the ceremony organised by Salford CVS at the AJ Bell Stadium on Wednesday to celebrate volunteering and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations across Salford.

Start Inspiring Minds, a charity which has been working to help people to overcome mental health problems through creativity for 25 years, won the 2018 Charity Award, and its recent campaign Reach Out: Start to End Suicide won the Innovation Project Award.

Chief executive Bernadette Conlon said: “We are very proud of the work we are doing in the team, so it was a fabulous day for our staff, we won two awards, that was a great day for us.

“The Reach Out campaign is about raising awareness and prevention around suicide. We want people to know that it is alright to talk about these things, to reach out and get support. The rates of suicide across Greater Manchester are high, so we wanted to do something about it.

“This is our 25th year with Start Inspiring Minds, so we thought it was a good thing to do to mark this anniversary.

“It’s great to have this recognition at the awards, it makes us feel that we are doing a good job.”


The Social Enterprise Award was won by HM Pasties, a pasty bakery which employs ex-offenders, directly out of prisons to teach them new skills and help them find long-term employment.

Lee Wakeham, who runs HM Pasties, said: “We’re incredibly proud, and surprised to have won, as there was some incredible competition for this particular prize.

“The bakery is ran by a core of people who are ex-offenders – like myself. The idea is that, yes we were in trouble, but that was a long time ago and we’ve moved on. Now we want to act as mentors for people who come out of prison and help them getting the skills needed for long-term employment.

“We recruit people directly out of prison, train them and they work with us for twelve months. There is a real shortage of skilled people in the food industry, so getting training and a qualification will help ex-offenders go into long-term employment.”

Mayor Paul Dennett attended the ceremony which distributed 11 awards, six for outstanding volunteers and five for organisations.

A Salford CVS spokesperson said: “It was a fantastic day, celebrating the voluntary and community sector for the organisations and volunteers. It was an inspirational day for everyone.”

The Salford Council for Voluntary Service is a city-wide organisation has provided specialist help and advice for organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector since 1973. The annual awards were launched in 2003.

Listen to Start Inspiring Minds chief executive Bernadette Conlon’s reaction:

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