COMMUNITY spirit is alive and kicking in every corner of this city.

Who deserves to be recognised for the impact they are making on your neighbourhood?

The Glasgow Community Champion Awards are back, and 2022 marks the 15th anniversary of our ground-breaking initiative, supported by Glasgow City Council, Wheatley Homes Glasgow and Trades House Glasgow.

Glasgow Times assistant editor Stacey Mullen said: “For the last 15 years, the Glasgow Times has been celebrating the good being done in communities across the city.

“So many people are making a difference to the lives of those around them, whether that’s through volunteering, through charity work, through grassroots activism, or by working in public service.”

She added: “Glaswegians are great at stepping up to help others but not so good at blowing their own trumpets – so we want you to tell us who deserves to be nominated for our awards.

“Our Community Champion Awards are a great way to pay tribute to all the amazing people across the city. We can’t wait to see the nominations and to share these wonderful stories with all our readers.”

Once again there will be nine trophies – Team Award, Individual Award, Public Service Award, Uniformed Services Award, Senior Award, Young Award, Health and Wellbeing Award, Sports Award and School Award – up for grabs and a public vote will decide regional winners in three areas of the city – the North East, the North West and the South.

Closing date for nominations is September 28.

Inclusive cycling charity Free Wheel North have been finalists and winners in the awards several times in the last 15 years, and founder Norman Armstrong is proud of the organisation’s connection to the event.

“We’re not in this to win awards, but being part of Community Champions has been a great boost for us,” he explains.

“Getting that kind of recognition is great, especially in times of real stress and anxiety like we have all experienced recently.”

Norman set up Free Wheel North in 2008 with a handful of adapted bikes and a plan to help people of all ages and abilities access cycling around the city.

The mission was to create a “barrier-free Glasgow” and since then, the small outfit has expanded into something much bigger – a thriving third sector organisation with two cycling bases, at Glasgow Green and at The White House in Maryhill, and two community cafes.

The White House, Maryhill’s oldest building which may or may not be as old as its American counterpart in Washington DC – volunteers are on the case to discover the exact age of the former lock-keeper’s cottage and pub – is currently a-buzz with volunteers and plans and ideas.

“I’m really proud of what we have achieved here and it didn’t cost us a penny, thanks to the incredible community,” smiles Norman.

“It’s a Scottish Canals building, and we’ve been using it for years but now we are finally developing it into a community resource – a democratic centre for local regeneration and climate activism.”

He adds: “You could call it a parliament for Maryhill, led by the people of Maryhill.”

Things have progressed far beyond cycling, he admits.

“COP26 played a part in making more people think about the climate crisis,” he says.

“Forty-degree temperatures in England helped focus the mind too. People are talking about it, and wanting to do something about it. This place has become a base, a hub for other local groups and we are all working together and climate is high on the agenda.”

There is still a whole lot of cycling going on, of course – down at the Green, and on the banks of the canal, children and adults flock to Free Wheel North, full of praise for its inclusive approach and its support of local cyclists (they also repair bikes).

At the White House, there’s even a pony – fittingly called Obama – whose trailer has been adapted to allow wheelchair users to go trekking along the canal.

There’s space for art exhibitions, music, conferences, workshops and talks – the sky is the limit, acknowledges Norman.

“We have come so far since those first days, but we are not finished yet,” he says.

“We want to create hubs like this all over Scotland. That’s the masterplan.”

The Glasgow Community Champion Awards are supported by Glasgow City Council, the Trades House of Glasgow and Wheatley Homes Glasgow.

Lord provost of Glasgow Jacqueline McLaren said: “Everyone loves the Community Champion Awards and they have become the highlight of the events calendar across our local communities.

“It is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing work our citizens carry out to support their neighbours and help improve and make a difference in their area.

“We know that many people don’t do this work to be rewarded, but what better way to encourage and influence others than to highlight the exceptional things our citizens do on a daily basis?

“This is especially true in the last two, challenging years of the pandemic and I would urge Glaswegians to nominate someone in their community who deserves to be recognised for their sterling efforts.”

Wheatley Homes Glasgow’s chairperson Bernadette Hewitt said: “At Wheatley Homes Glasgow, we want to create better homes, better lives and a better Glasgow.

“We’re delighted to once again support the Glasgow Times Community Champion Awards, which celebrate the people who give up their time to make a difference to their local areas.

“It’s what makes this city great and it’s important to recognise the efforts of these unsung heroes who go the extra mile to help others in their communities.”

Billy Birse-Stewart, deacon convener-elect at The Trades House of Glasgow, said: “Over many centuries The Trades House of Glasgow has helped local people who have faced financial hardship and may be disadvantaged in some way.

“We are therefore delighted to once again support The Community Champion Awards which recognise those who have devoted so much to help relieve many instances of suffering. We wish everyone involved good luck this year.”

HOW TO NOMINATE

We want to hear about inspirational individuals and great groups in your area – who do you think deserves recognition for fantastic community work?

You can nominate anyone, from the hardworking coach of a young person’s sports team, to a nurse who goes above and beyond the day job; from an inspirational teenager making waves at school to a pensioner who campaigns for better services.

Tell us why they should win and remember to include lots of detail and photographs to support your entry.

You can nominate online by clicking here, or email linsey.hunter@localiq.co.uk.

For more information, call 0141 302 6019.

The closing date for entries is Wednesday, September 28.

A shortlist will then go to a public online vote to determine the winners in each area, who will then progress to the Grand Final at Glasgow City Chambers on December 7.

A judging panel made up of representatives from the award partners will decide the Grand Final winners.

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