The Inspire Wales Awards are an initiative of the Institute of Welsh Affairs in association with the Western Mail.
Inspirational people from all walks of life are being honoured in the second annual Inspire Wales Awards. The awards – a partnership between the Western Mail and the Institute of Welsh Affairs – recognise the contribution of those in the fields of business, education, science and technology, arts and media, the environment and sport. They also aim to mark the work of young achievers, those who promote Wales to the world and the Welsh language in the workplace, as well as champions of citizenship. Here, we reveal the finalists in the Citizen’s Voice categories.
Having faced numerous challenges when she arrived in the UK from Cameroon in 2005, Constance Nzeneu was determined to provide support to vulnerable women in similar situations. A single mother-of-two, Ms Nzeneu founded Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group Wales in Cardiff two years ago to support women fleeing human rights abuses, persecutions, isolation, destitution, threats of deportation and other dangers. Ever since, she has worked almost single-handedly to lobby decision makers, secure funding and arrange counselling and support for the women who come to her – all balanced with her family life. Her tireless work was recognised by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action when she was awarded the Wales Volunteer Award of the Year, and campaigning resulted in securing funding from Cardiff Council’s Ethnic Minorities Communities First to launch a booklet on women’s life stories in April.
Faced with a frustrating lack of support or information when her two-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, Nadine Honeybone decided to act to help others in the same situation – and The Autism Directory was born. Ms Honeybone, from Penarth, created the online resource in November last year, pulling together information and contact details for autism-friendly services – such as doctors’ surgeries, hairdressers and dentists – and support families trying to understand and deal with autism. She has raised awareness of the condition with the general public and businesses – culminating with the launch of the Cardiff Autism Challenge in April, aiming to train business across the spectrum in autism awareness. Ms Honeybone designs and delivers training herself – and her promotion of the website resource has seen it grow exponentially, now attracting 100 hits a day. Her success with the project – still run from her kitchen table – is all the more impressive, since she juggles the growing demands of the Directory with her 24-hour job as a mother, and running her own business.
After seeing an advert in the shelter she sought refuge in, Lyndsey Phillips decided to volunteer to help prevent other, vulnerable people ending up in the same situation. Ms Phillips – homeless and at a low ebb – began volunteering as a Peer Educator for Shelter Cymru in Wrexham in 2009 – and has since spoken to more than 2,300 young people in 20 different schools on the reality of homelessness, how to avoid it and how to live independently. She has also dedicated a large part of the last two years conducting research work for the charity – looking at barriers that exist to accommodation, as well as helping with activities at her local hostel. Despite funding for the project ending this month, Ms Phillips has vowed to continue her valuable work for Shelter to inspire, mentor and inform young people on homelessness issues – efforts which have inspired the 30 other young volunteers with the school sessions since she started.