BCHA superstars who go above and beyond the call of duty to drive positive change for the benefit of others were recognised at the annual Bchangemakers awards on 22 June.

The prestigious Bchangemakers ceremony recognises the talent and dedication of outstanding colleagues who go the extra mile for customers and inspire change that creates vibrant communities in which to work and live.

More than 150 nominations flooded in for this year’s awards, with 604 votes cast. The judges had their work cut out, with one category alone receiving an incredible 85 nominations!

BCHA’s Director Laura Jump said: “The quality of this year’s nominations were outstanding, with so many incredible achievements highlighted across the BCHA family of services. With such an abundance of talent and dedication on display, judges had a tough task in selecting winners and everyone who was nominated deserves a big round of applause. Our winners have demonstrated extraordinary vision and determination to drive change for the better and everyone who triumphed should be rightfully proud of their achievements.”

The winners of the 2023 Bchangemakers awards are…

The Shining Star Award

Winner: Bethany White, BCP Homelessness Services

Highly Commended: Aldona Mach (HR) and Christina John-Bennetts (Liberty Project)

BCHA is full role models who inspire others to make positive change. Multiple deserving nominations poured in and Bethany White’s commitment to supporting customers helped judges to conclude that she is our shining star for 2023.

Bethany is respected throughout BCHA for her fabulous murals which play a key role in creating psychologically informed environments but she also demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping customers to rebuild their lives through the Customer Steering Group, while she is involved in BCHA’s Young People’s Group, too.

Bethany said: "Working for BCHA has been a life-changing experience. I feel grateful to have been given acknowledgement within my professional career as an artist and a support worker. This year, I have been given an opportunity to exhibit my artwork across BCHA while working with truly inspiring individuals who motivate me every day.”

The Moved a Mountain Award

Winner: Rachel Lewis, Tenancy and Income Team

When the odds are stacked against us, the actions of a visionary team member who pulls out all the stops to deliver outstanding achievements deserves to be celebrated.

A new member of the Tenancy Team in Devon, Rachel supports 20 customers with various levels of need and risk. In the last few months alone, Rachel has secured nine positive outcomes for customers, who successfully moved on into social housing or the private rented sector. Rachel was praised for building solid relationships with external organisations – from the local authority to police, fire services and voluntary groups.

Rachel said: “It was an honour to win this award for the Tenancy and Intensive Housing Management services in South Hams. I worked hard to move people on successfully and to maximise people’s benefits. Working with customers has been a pleasure and I wish them the best in their new homes.”

The Inspiring Change Award

Winner: Maxwell Betts, BCP Homelessness Services

Inspiring change is at the heart of everything BCHA does and with 69 nominations, judges were determined to highlight the achievements of an individual who has been bursting with innovative ideas that delivered a positive impact on customers and colleagues.

Maxwell Betts, Senior Practitioner for Dorset Lodge and Lansdowne Gardens, led the installation of new kitchens, redecoration and set up house meetings. Nominations praised Maxwell for “motivating and inspiring” others, praising how his dedication had “completely changed how the service presents itself through clear and positive leadership”.

Maxwell said: “I’m delighted! I see this award as a reflection of my whole team and all those who have worked tirelessly to help turn Dorset Lodge and Lansdowne Gardens around.”

The Compassion Award

Winner: Julie Dennis, HISS Plymouth

Highly commended: Mel Daley (Night Shelter, Plymouth), Adel Padiachy (Family Outreach, Dorset) and Anna Suwaj (Tenancy, Dorset)

Demonstrating compassion is a core value for all BCHA colleagues so judges were keen to highlight an individual who goes one step above by bringing a caring approach to everything they do – from considering the wellbeing of others to demonstrating their commitment to psychologically informed environments (PIE).

Colleagues nominating Julie Dennis said she “always acts with the utmost compassion and care” while “tailoring discussions to PIE and trauma-informed thinking”.

Julie, who was enjoying a well-earned break, said: “I am lucky to work alongside so many colleagues who I admire. When I received the message from Carla Bunney that I had won, I did a little happy dance around my sunbed! Thank you so much, it means a lot to me.”

Champion of Inclusion Award

Winner: Bhavna Mistry

BCHA is committed to providing an inclusive working environment where everyone is welcome and respected. Nominees all demonstrated a willingness and ability to be more

inclusive but Bhavna Mistry’s achievements stood out – putting together Eid gifts for Muslim clients that were gratefully received.

Bhavna was praised for her compassionate approach to all colleagues and “continually encouraging us to push boundaries and see someone else’s perspective”.

The Valiant Volunteer Award

Winner: The Gabriel House Group – Bex, Dan, Rebecca and Nathan

BCHA is blessed with fantastic volunteers who come to us to learn but also give their valuable time, skills and experience to improve our offer. The Gabriel House Group are all customers or previous customers of BCHA who have had their own complicated journeys; a group of extremely strong and resilient individuals who came together to give something back – from peer mentoring to running a café, and dedicating time to drive co-production not just in Exeter but across BCHA. The group, which has offered generosity, expertise and insight, was even involved in the recruitment of BCHA’s new CEO.

Dan, from the group, said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised for what we do. It makes us feel valued and encourages us to help others to better themselves.”

The Community Connections Award

Winner: Steph Bray, Business Development

Highly Commended: Katy Shorten of Exeter & Yeovil Homelessness Services and Andrew Merchant of BCHA Learn

This award celebrates an outstanding individual’s commitment to growing meaningful partnerships with local organisations and agencies – securing the best outcomes for customers and colleagues.

The pioneering work of winner Steph Bray has generated sponsorship opportunities for BCHA events, strengthened corporate partnerships and provided fundraising guidance and support to teams across the organisation. From her work on the BCHA Festival of Wellbeing to the Bchangemakers awards, nominations championed Steph for “always spotting an opportunity and grasping it”.

Steph said: “Winning a Bchangemakers Award feels wonderful! I feel so valued. I accept the award with thanks to my incredible colleagues, who inspire and motivate me every day".

The Noble Newcomer Award

Winner: Maxine Hartwell, Head of Customer Home and Wellbeing

This hotly contested award is given to an individual who has joined BCHA within the last 12 months and demonstrated a positive impact on their service, department, colleagues, team and customers. Nominations poured in for newcomers who have hit the ground running even in their first few months – with winner Maxine Hartwell described as “a breath of fresh air” who has demonstrated “passion for BCHA to become a better place for customers and colleagues”. She was praised for being a “great addition to the leadership team”.

Maxine said: “I was extremely surprised and honoured to receive this award in a field of hugely deserving nominees. To have my colleagues nominate me is humbling and I feel lucky to be part of such an innovative and supportive organisation.”

The Motivational Leader Award

Winner: Hannah Brightman, BCP Homelessness Services

Highly Commended: Julie Grainge (Housing First, Exeter & Yeovil), Rachel Young (Pause Project, Dorset), Lloyd Coates (BCP Homelessness Services), Lorna Proctor (Floating Mental Health Service) and Bev Munden (Plymouth Homelessness Services)

Inspirational leaders know how to get the best out of their teams, make BCHA a brilliant place to work and drive change that brings benefits for customers. Leaders can be anyone who inspires and motivates. Winner Hannah Brightman’s positivity shone through, putting customer needs at the heart of everything she does.

Despite a significant workload at St Paul’s, with 40 residents, Hannah always takes time to listen to colleagues and ensure residents receive the highest levels of support.

The Tremendous Team Award

Winner: Pathways Yeovil

Highly Commended: Temporary Accommodation & Outreach Team in Plymouth, and the Asset & Repairs Team

Teamwork holds the key to delivering fantastic outcomes for customers and colleagues, achieving so much more when working in collaboration than going solo. The Pathways team has experienced the most challenging year imaginable, with the building in which they operate closing down. Despite considerable uncertainty, the team successfully found alternative housing or options for every single customer. They also created a new service for some customers, getting operations up and running with passion and vigour.


For more information about the Bchangemakers Awards 2023, please email communications@bcha.org.uk or visit www.bcha.org.uk.

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