Award is a dream come true for Stephen

Award winner Stephen Smith.
Award winner Stephen Smith.

REACT project worker Stephen Smith from Clitheroe has won the Derek Russell Outstanding Leader Award 2017 at the North West Self Advocacy awards in Blackpool.

Nominated by Caritas Care’s REACT service and Castle Supported Living for his hard work and commitment to motivating and inspiring other people with a learning disability, Stephen has been recognised for the high level of work he has put in to enabling their voices to be heard.

Speaking about receiving the award, Stephen said: “I am over the moon, it’s a dream come true for me.”

James Hughes, REACT team manager, said: “We are absolutely delighted for Stephen and what he has achieved, we cannot express enough how proud we are of his success. A worthy winner!”

A spokesperson for Castle Supported Living added: “Everyone at Castle is really pleased for Stephen. We would like to congratulate him on this brilliant achievement. He is a true leader.”

Stephen has worked and volunteered for Caritas Care’s REACT Advocacy service for more than six years and has supported many people with learning disabilities locally.

Stephen was voted for by attendees at the conference at Blackpool Hilton and accepted his award and £100 as an acknowledgement of his work.

The North West Self Advocacy conference is an annual event held by Pathways Associates, Accrington, to enable people with learning disabilities to meet up and discuss important issues affecting them and their peers. Such issues include, consent in relationships, safeguarding and helping people move from care and treatment facilities to being supported in their own homes.

REACT is a Peer Advocacy Project for people with learning disabilities in Lancashire run by Caritas Care. It employs people with a learning disability who are passionate about advocating on behalf of their learning disabled peers, sharing issues that are important to them to help make their lives better. The project’s ethos is that people with learning disabilities should have as much choice and control as possible over their own lives and the support they receive.