OLDHAM FOUNDER OF BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT NETWORK HONOURED WITH THE BRITISH CITIZEN AWARD
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 25 extraordinary people from across the UK are being recognised with the coveted British Citizen Award. One of them is Oyovwe Kigho from Oldham, Greater Manchester. Due to the current government restrictions banning large gatherings indoors, the usual grand medal presentation ceremony at The Palace of Westminster is unable to take place. For the first time in its history, Oyovwe and the remaining 24 medalists received their BCA medals by courier, together with a video message from some of the Patrons and an invitation to the House of Lords at a date yet to be determined.
The British Citizen Award (BCA), in association with One-Stop, is now in its fifth year and recognises exceptional people who positively impact their communities. Oyovwe is honoured with a BCAh for Services to Healthcare.
Oyovwe is dedicated to the cause of bereaved widows and widowers across Manchester. She created a scheme to end and combat their loneliness and founded The Widows Empowerment Trust in 2017. Since then the organisation has helped hundreds of beneficiaries across Greater Manchester by including them in community social activities, providing one-to-one befrienders for them, peer-to-peer support and improving their quality of life, confidence, skills and employability. In addition to innovative ideas to mitigate loneliness facing the widowed, she has created a platform to help thousands of students developed their communication skills, employability and work-based learning placement skills. She has recruited more than 3500 students from Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University & Salford University into volunteering and fundraising to help provide them with sense of belonging. She has also mentored hundreds of young people from National Citizen Service (NCS) during the summer, building their aspirations, coordinating events including Inter-generational activities.
The Widows Empowerment Trust now runs three weekly wellbeing sessions, a befriending scheme, pampering sessions and organises special gift presentations on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas. Also, providing weekly sessions for people with dementia using creativity and Karaoke to help build their self- esteem.
Oyovwe has a very good understanding of the social and negative implications of isolation and loneliness to health and wellbeing. She is willing to go to any height to pursue her goals, such as completing a skydive from 15,000ft to raise £4,000 for The Widows Empowerment Trust. She volunteers in excess of 70 hours a week to the Trust with the support of her family. Extending the breadth of her initiatives and passion she helps the Lower Food Bank and The Trust delivering food parcels to homeless people in Manchester City Centre.
“Every time a new group of medalists are selected we are reminded of the great voluntary work that takes place across the nation. We serve many communities through our One Stop convenience stores and we know how vital this work is. The individuals that are being recognised reflect all that is good about community spirit. It is important, now more than ever, for us to be involved in the BCA awards and we are privileged to play a small part in helping them to be recognised. Our congratulations go to all 25 honourees”, said Jonny McQuarrie, Managing Director from BCA partner One Stop
Messages of support were sent via video from TV personalities Michael Underwood, Matt Allwright, Tim Vincent, pop superstar Kimberly Walsh of the Pussycat Dolls, and popular comedian, actor and Patron of the BCA Bradley Walsh. Another Patron, Dame Mary Perkins, Founder of Specsavers sent a heartfelt message together with representatives from Experian, Places for People and Objective HR who have all continued to support the BCA throughout the pandemic. Co-Founder of The British Citizen Award, Mike Faulkner said: “Whilst it is bitterly disappointing not be able to present Oyovwe’s medal in person, we are determined to recognise all medalists for their exceptional contribution Thanks to our sponsors, supporters and patrons they will still have the full British Citizen Award experience when we can safely gather indoors in larger numbers.
“The 25 medalists’ commitment to others and to making society better for everyone, was the driving force for us to unite them with their medals at the earliest opportunity. Whilst some recognition programmes are regarded as elitist, The BCA remains accessible to everyone who has not been recognised by the Crown for their selfless endeavours and welcomes nominations year-round. By highlighting the commitment of people like Oyovwe we aim to make positive impact in the community the norm rather than the exception”.
The British Citizen Award was established in 2015, and recognises true community heroes who would otherwise likely be overlooked. Dubbed ‘The People’s Honours’, many recipients have subsequently been selected to receive a Queen’s Honour after their endeavours have been recognised with a BCA.
Each Medal of Honour bears the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are presented to only a small number of exceptional individuals twice yearly. The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavor and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.