• Mon. May 27th, 2024

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Pioneering charity named among best of British diversity

A North East charity that helps people with learning difficulties to navigate health and relationships has won one of the UK’s biggest diversity awards.

The Josephine and Jack Project, which uses anatomically accurate cloth figures as vital educational tools for people with learning disabilities, has been named the UK’s best community organisation in the disability category at The National Diversity Awards 2019, beating off competition from more than 28,000 other national nominees.

The National Diversity Awards, now in their eighth year, recognise the efforts of individuals and organisations that make the world a more equal and diverse place, and were held at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral at the weekend, with guests including football pundit Chris Kamara, Love Island’s Gabby Allen and host, the actress and comedian Sally Phillips.

The accolade, for which seven other organisations were shortlisted, comes just weeks after The Josephine and Jack Project was also named as one of three local organisations shortlisted for the Small Charity of the Year Award in the North East Charity Awards 2019.

Chief Executive Simon James explained: “It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of these awards, which not only give projects like us a moment in the sun, but also celebrate so many people and organisations quietly getting on with such good stuff.”

Josephine and Jack are a unique resource in the North East for men and women with learning disabilities, helping them safely explore matters of sexual health and wellbeing. Each bespoke Josephine and Jack figure has features, such as a detachable breast or testicle with a detectable lump, to be used in a bespoke range of workshops exploring general health, sexual health, mental health and wellbeing.

Simon continued: “To win this award for contributing towards educating to protect individuals against sexual abuse during sexual health week gives it even greater meaning, and we hope the awareness if offers will allow us to have a real impact on the lives of even more vulnerable people as we grow.”

The project, which is based at Newcastle’s Good Space and last week celebrated its third birthday, started life as part of Them Wifies community arts organisation before becoming a charity in its own right. It now works with groups such as Guidepost in Gateshead, Journey in Wallsend, with local schools and with a range of clients across the North East. There are also Josephines and Jacks in Scotland, Northumberland, London and shortly the Isle of Wight working under license to the project, with the charity planning to expand this side of the operation.

Simon added: “The feedback we get from our service users and their carers and families regarding the impact Josephine and Jack have is incredible, and this award is icing on the cake.

“The ceremony was an amazing and moving experience and now, even more, we’re looking forward to celebrating with other local organisations the good work being done in the region at the North East Charity Awards next month. Congratulations to everyone recognised, both locally and nationally.”

Sir Lenny Henry CBE was the recipient of the Celebrity of the Year Award for his ongoing commitment to increasing diverse representation across the media industry, and said: “Diversity to me means involving everybody without any discrimination. It means having integrated groups in society, it means fairness and total inclusion and that’s what the National Diversity Awards are about.

“This is about everybody being on the bus and nobody being left behind. And that’s what diversity and inclusion is about – nobody being left behind.”

The ceremony, which was live streamed and featured 15 categories, remains available through ITV News’ YouTube channel.

To find out more about the awards, visit nationaldiversityawards.co.uk. And to find out more about The Josephine and Jack Project, visit josephineandjackproject.co.uk.