Marsh Award for Outstanding Achievement in Work with Children and Families

This Award recognises an organisation or individual that has made a significant achievement in work with children and families in the last year.

The focus of this Award allows both the Marsh Christian Trust and Barnardo’s to work together to recognise organisations and individuals, outside Barnardo’s, who have made a significant contribution to the welfare and support of children and their families.

Pictured above: Suzie Birchwood (2012 Award winner) from ActOne ArtsBase,  a charity that provides theatre arts opportunities to disabled and vulnerable children

Tonya Joy Bolton 2015

Tonya has spent over 15 years working with vulnerable children, young people, women and families. She set up the not-for-profit organisation ICU Transformational Arts, which uses the arts to empower girls and boys to make positive life choices and break destructive cycles of behaviour.

Having overcome many difficulties herself, she has become an inspirational role model to young people. She found herself homeless at a young age and then worked two jobs to finance her degree, before setting up ICU Transformational Arts to dedicate her life to helping others.

Previous Winners

Julie Spallek

Julie is a Family Support Worker on the juvenile units in HM Prison and Young Offenders’ Institution Parc in Bridgend. She works tirelessly to ensure that young people who are in custody are able to maintain, and hopefully improve, their relationships with their families by keeping the vital link between offenders and their support network open.

Julie is one of the first people a young person will come into contact with when they arrive in custody, offering those who are distressed valuable support and helping them to contact their families. She organises Family Days at Parc where the young people can spend the day with their families without the usual restrictions and anxious parents can have reassurance that their child is well.

Helen Alves

Helen manages the Family Support services at the charity Missing People, offering support to the thousands of people who go missing each year and their families. She has shown an exceptional level of care and passion in developing services which best meet the needs of the families she works with, including a telephone service which offers counselling to family members who need additional support.

Helen has spoken at national conferences and delivered a number of training sessions to practitioners who are working in related fields. She goes above and beyond her role in the compassion and care she has for the people she supports and is a true champion of the families of Missing People.

Suzie Birchwood

Suzie is the Founder and Artistic Director of ActOne ArtsBase, a charity that provides theatre arts opportunities to disabled and vulnerable children. Drawing on her own experiences of a debilitating injury which she developed while training as a dancer, her mission for the charity was to create spaces where absolutely any young person could feel accepted, grow in confidence, and learn to dance.

Through the organisation, Suzie has developed a very special technique for producing performances that can, not only include everyone, but also celebrate their differences. ActOne projects support the long-term social and health needs of hundreds of disabled and vulnerable young people, and encourage the audience members of performances to look again at what makes people different and be inspired by what the young people have achieved.

Sarah Aitken

Sarah works on the Changeworks project, Cosy Kids, which exists to improve quality of life at the same time as protecting the environment. She has helped to support low-income families with young children and helped to make their homes affordably warm to give the children the best start in life.

Sarah is an Affordable Warmth Advisor, and supports families in and around Edinburgh with developing life-skills and managing their energy use to avoid fuel poverty and fuel debt. She consistently demonstrates a commitment above and beyond the scope of the project, often going the extra mile to help families in unexpected and creative ways.

Mike Adair and Zoe Reid

Mike and Zoe work with Epilepsy Scotland, providing continual support, running activities and mentoring whenever the organisation needs them. They have supported young people and their families who have to face a diagnosis of epilepsy, listening to their needs and giving up their time willingly to help in any way they can.

Mike and Zoe liaise with Consultants and Zoe often gives her time at a weekly outpatient clinic at Sick Kids Edinburgh, offering a friendly face in a clinical environment. Together they provide a ‘bridge of support’ between the professionals and the families which can prove vital when a child is diagnosed with a condition that is not particularly high profile and about which there is a lack of knowledge and understanding.