Community heroes recognised at annual civic awards
Hackney celebrated its unsung heroes in a ceremony at the Town Hall on 22 May. Mayor Philip Glanville presented the Mayor’s Civic Awards 2019 to three well-deserving winners; Nicolette Nixon, Gulizar Yaldiz and Tina Clark.
Now in its fourth year the Civic Awards aim to shine a light on the remarkable achievements everyday people in Hackney are doing to help make the borough a better place to live, work or study. Over 30 nominations were received this year, with tough competition to reach the final three winners.
It’s great to be celebrating Hackney’s community spirit and giving thanks to these three incredible women who are all active in standing up for their communities, taking action to help some of the most marginalised of our fellow citizens. The winners of the civic awards this year are so inspiring, and I hope their stories motive even more people to become active citizens, campaigners and volunteers.
Nicolette Nixon is a Tenant’ and Resident Association (TRA) Chair, and founder of the Gascoyne and Morningside youth club. She first became an active member of her community when she joined her TRA in 1995, she was galvanised into action when reading through a description of where she lived as an ‘estate of underachievers’, which from her lived experience wasn’t true at all. She wanted to make that known, and ensure all residents on her estate had access to things that would benefit them, and not be left behind by incorrect assumptions. Thanks to her hard work she helped set up a youth club and community centre in 1999, which 20 years later is still engaging young people, with around 35 coming everyday after school. She also pioneered a maker and market stall business with young people who won a national award for their efforts last year. She said: “When I was growing up on the estate there was nowhere for us to go and nothing to do, and when I grew up and saw young people still hanging around getting shouted at for playing, I knew something had to be done, I saw a disused hall and set about opening the youth club, I walked up to young people to ask them if they would come and what they would like to see there, they came along and it's still going strong 20 years on.”
Nicolette hopes her winning the awards can encourage even more people to get involved with their community, she said: “There is no point complaining if you don’t like something, you have got to put the time in, get out there and do something about it. Communities know best what is right for them, and when they come together and be proactive great change can happen.” Though pleased with her award she added “The work with the youth club and TRA just wouldn’t happen without other people and other residents and young people on our estate, all getting together to make a difference, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do at all without their help.”
Tina Clark is a facilities assistant on the Pembury Estate but goes above and beyond her day job in her care for residents and local people. She can often be seen helping local people, from having chats with those who are feeling down to making sure homeless people are connected with the Council’s housing service and are getting the help they need. She also makes sure older residents are okay, knocking on doors to check people have food and heating during the winter months and making sure repairs have been carried out correctly. One of her most poignant moments was supporting ambulance staff in delivering CPR to a resident that had collapsed on the estate, thanks to Tina’s help the person made it to hospital, sadly they later passed away, but thanks to Tina’s efforts their family was able to travel from abroad to the hospital to say goodbye. It’s these everyday acts of kindness that prompted local people to nominate Tina. She said: “I think it’s important to show compassion and not just walk on by. Even if it's just to stop for a chat or say hello, you should ask people if they are alright and see if you can help in some way, even if it’s just to listen to people. Sharing a connection is always something nice you can do for other people.”
Gulizar Yaldiz has worked for the past 11 years supporting Kurdish and Turkish communities in Hackney, she is a well known community stalwart who is always on hand to help people, either for a quick chat about issues they may be having or helping them connect to local services. She has helped many different groups of people, from mothers at the sure start centre, to older people who are feeling isolated. Most recently Gulizar worked with women who were suffering mental health and isolation to set up a cookery class, which helped people get together, have fun and talk over food. She also set up a lunch club for older people and works with families to get them connected to school services for any support they might need. She said: “Volunteering is a great opportunity to understand yourself and the community around you, you can see the problems people are having and see how you can help them overcome these.”