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A unique ceremony for Cumbria

Last week, a groundbreaking event took place in Cumbria. People First learners, families, health and social care leaders and businesses came together to celebrate outstanding achievements at the People First Awards.

The unique ceremony, held at The Halston Hotel in Carlisle, was dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of young individuals living with learning disabilities. 

More than 200 guests came along to this heartwarming occasion, joining learners, families, and friends to recognise their remarkable achievements, well-deserved qualifications, and the beginning of promising new journeys.

The event also showcased some of the brilliant local businesses who are already creating an impact and offering career opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

People First Awards audience
People First CEO, David Blacklock said: 
“It has been fantastic to see businesses, local leaders, families and of course our learners all connecting at this event. Seeing the progress that young people with learning difficulties can achieve when they’re given the chance is heartening. I really feel that when we work together, with commitment from all areas, we can make a real difference to people’s lives.
Events like these awards shouldn’t be a rarity. Celebrating what we can do when we support each other to achieve should be a visible part of all our lives; and I’m hopeful that together we’ve taken a step towards that with the People First Awards.”
Matthew Dodd of Borderway Finance, Headline sponsor, said: 
“We’ve worked with People First for just over a year now and we were delighted to be asked to be part of this event. Together we have been working to raise awareness of People First and the amazing work that they do in our area.
The Awards have been a great event and it’s been good to see such a buzz around building further awareness for the learners to try and help them get out into the wider world and gain real-life experience and opportunities.”

This year’s ceremony also saw the launch of an exciting new project which will change the way businesses work with people with learning difficulties for years to come.

Lynsey Buckle, Head of Development and Partnerships at People First was one of two presenters on the night and said: 
“There are so few events like the People First Awards. It shouldn’t be the case, but all too often people with learning difficulties are undervalued and disempowered.
What we’re looking to do is change things. We want to challenge the status quo, to help businesses find employees that have so much to offer; and help people with learning difficulties get the jobs that they want. These two things are one and the same.”
Lou and Lynsey
Lou Townson, Trustee of People First and co-presenter of the awards added: 
“I really enjoyed the event, and it has been wonderful to see so many businesses in attendance supporting the learners and People First staff.
I felt very proud when I was asked to co-host the event with Lynsey and to see so many of the learners building confidence and be where they are now I think is fantastic. I said it on the night, and I will say it again – we need to focus on what people CAN do, not what they can’t.”

People First Award Winners

The full list of award winners from the night are:

  • Increased Confidence sponsored by Cartmell Shepherd: Milli Kriese
  • Most Improved sponsored by Thomas Graham: William Sewell
  • Social Worker of the Year sponsored by Liberty Work and Leisure Wear: Naomi Thornton
  • Placement of the Year sponsored by Paramount Legal Costs: The Halston
  • Rising Star sponsored by David Allen IT: Alfie Whittle
  • Shining Example sponsored by Cumbria LEP: John Watt & Son
  • Learners’ Choice sponsored by Dodd & Co.: Tom Graham
  • Learner of the Year sponsored by Focus Group: Marcus Tiffin-Farrar
People First Awards

Full list of graduates from the People First Learner’s Programme: Cree Quilter, Tommy Kidd, Chris Armstrong, Tanya Ridgewell, Tom Graham, Odin Watson, Jonathan Solomons, Abi Ng, Marcus Tiffin-Farrar, Ricardo Mendes, Keith Atkinson, Kieran Little.

To find out more about the People First Awards or opportunities for business partnerships, contact [email protected].