Heroes of 2007

The TV series Heroes has been a hit this year. But who have been your heroes over the last 12 months? Responses from Community Care contributors and readers range from sportsmen and Nobel Prize-winners to carers and care leavers. Here are a selection below:

My heroes for 2007 are Simon Duffy and the In Control team. Individual budgets seem set to revolutionise adult social care. In an increasingly cynical age, In Control has proved that the right people with the right values and ideas can still change the world.

Jon Glasby, professor of health and social care, Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham

My heroes are the men and women featured in the Channel 4 Series The Secret Millionaire; the late Jane Tomlinson for her drive, fighting spirit and fantastic achievements in the face of adversity; and, most recently, the child psychologist Julia Stokes who helps dying mothers say goodbye to their children. She also founded the charity Winston’s Wish, which offers support to bereaved children and families. She is an inspiration and brings comfort to people in desperate situations.

Sharon Cole, palliative care social worker, Sue Ryder Hospice, West Yorkshire

She left school at 13, was snubbed for years by the Nobel Hierachy, and now at 88-years-old is one of – if not the – oldest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Doris Lessing is my inspiration for 2007. This is not solely due to her writing achievements, but more her attitude to it all. Having had my fill of gushing, hammed up acceptance speeches, I was tickled by Doris’s response to her accolade: “They can’t give a Nobel to someone who’s dead, so I think they were probably thinking they had better give it to me now before I popped off!”

Free speaking with the talent to back it up – love it!

Tara Cresswell, vulnerable young people’s substance misuse co-ordinator, Croydon Council

The first person that came to mind when thinking of heroes was my brother, Wayne. However, it’s the fabulous film maker that he turned me on to that continues to entertain and inspire me. John Waters, the godfather of Trash Movies and the respected producer of Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Pecker and many more, took political incorrectness to its lowest level and wasn’t afraid to have fun with it. He took a somewhat darker side of life and made it glamorous.

Kelvin Barton, mental health service co-ordinator, Grounded

There are many things that I remember growing up as one of the only Asian families in Chorley, Lancashire, but one in particular was that I came from a different culture and racism was very real. To get through it and to build a sense of self confidence I drew upon Martin Luther Kings Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It is incredible to think that the life of a man who died in 1967 still has prevalence today. Now that I am a qualified social worker I draw upon his speech when needing inspiration.

Emil Rowe, house manager, Nacro Housing, Stevenage

Louise Christian is a fantastic lawyer who takes on high profile and difficult cases and achieves positive results. She has represented those who suffered in disasters, from the Marchioness tragedy, to the rail disasters at Paddington and Southall and, more recently, the cases of  Mr Osman and Mr Abbasi who were held at Guantanamo Bay. She also represents Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned. Her tenacity and skill, compassion and commitment, make her a definite hero in my book.

Roy Taylor, strategic director of community services, Kingston Council

Elvis Hall, our Health and Nutrition Fitness Worker, captures the true essence of an individual who inspires young people in an extraordinary way. He has been delivering the family Assist Nutrition and Fitness Programme since the beginning of 2007, working creatively with young people to improve their confidence, self-esteem and behaviour. He also has a good rapport with parents to ensure that they are supporting the young people to continue the initiatives put in place in the home environment.

Elvis helps young people to set achievable goals for themselves, and then provides regular one to one coaching and support to monitor their progress. The effort he takes to get a clear understanding of a young person’s needs and to gain their trust is clearly a key contributory factor to the success of the programme. As unsung heroes go, Elvis definitely gets full marks for me.

Jenny Baker, manager, Family Assist Team, Complex Needs Division, Hammersmith and Fulham Council

Margery Taylor OBE is my hero. She was director of social services when I joined Redbridge Council in 1982 and was always known to us all as Miss Taylor. She had an astonishing memory for names and recalling small personal details about everyone she met which made both staff and users alike feel valued and important. Her real passion for making a difference to people’s lives made a lasting impression on me and how I approach my job.

Anne Bristow, corporate director of adult and community services, Barking and Dagenham Council

Marion Janner and the Star Wards Initiative are my heroes. Patients and staff have for years been requesting such a programme to relieve ward tedium and promote positive shared relationships. Staff need the freedom and a supportive environment to spend real time getting to know patients. It’s about what actually works: a shared approach. Like the recovery model, it succeeds by its very simplicity. Most importantly this comes directly from patients and is not management driven. Marion pulled the loose threads together, she held the vision with passion and determination, translating the wish list into reality.

Monica Endersby, mental health consultant and trainer



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