Rochdale Diversity Awards 2022

This year’s winners for the Rochdale Diversity Awards have been announced at a special ceremony at KYP’s Unity Hall on 30 November 2022.

The Rochdale Diversity Awards promote the excellent work being done by individuals, organisations and employers in supporting and promoting equality, diversity and cohesion within the borough.

The awards also aim to motivate service providers by ensuring equality and diversity issues are central to the remodelling and transformation of local services and organisations.

The winners were:

  • Cohesion Award – Cartwheel Arts
  • Workforce Diversity Award – Rochdale Borough Council (Raising Participation Team)
  • Diversity in Apprenticeships – Rochdale Training
  • Diversity in Education Award – Tree of Life
  • Diversity in Health & Social Care – Petrus Communities
  • Breaking Barriers Award – Rochdale and District Mind – Dementia and Care Service
  • Diversity in public sector partnership working award – Rochdale Sixth Form College – Intergenerational project
  • Voluntary and Faith Sector Award – Awakening Minds
  • Outstanding Achievement in Diversity Award – Humera Haqqani MBE
  • Special Recognition Award for Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – Chief Inspector Andy Riley
  • Special Recognition Award for supporting the VCSE sector – Zen Internet

The ceremony was attended by a cross section of the community, senior public sector officials, finalists and distinguished guests.

Guest speakers on the night spoke about the importance of embracing diversity within their own organisations and across all walks of life. Speakers included the Mayor of Rochdale, Ali Ahmed; Daalat Ali, deputy council leader; Dr Zubair Hanslot, Provost at Bolton University; Maqsood Ahmad, CEO British Muslim Heritage Centre, Sajjad Karim, CEO Haider Global BVBA Brussels, Corporate Lawyer and Former MEP for the Northwest 2004-2019.

The calibre and quality of nominations received for the awards meant the judging panel had a very difficult time in selecting one winner from each category. The evening showcased and celebrated good practice from across all sections of the community, from private, public and voluntary organisations, to individuals, groups and partnerships as finalists and winners were announced. 

Zulf Ahmed, CEO of KYP, welcomed the guests and finalists, saying: “The last Diversity Awards ceremony was held in 2017 and due to various reasons including austerity and the pandemic it has not been possible for us to come together recognise, reward and share good practice from across the borough.

“I would like to thank Action Together for providing the support and funding to enable us to revive Rochdale Diversity Awards. We are a borough of different communities, these diverse communities don’t make us weak, they are the source of our strength.

“The Rochdale Diversity Awards allow us to challenge the negative portrayal of Rochdale and celebrate all that is good in the borough: after all we have many things to be proud of.

Zulf congratulated all the finalists and winners on their achievement and good work.

A representative for Rochdale and District Mind said: “Our dementia and care services team were recognised for the fantastic community work they do, including offering mental health and emotional wellbeing support to those living with dementia, their families and their carers living within the Rochdale borough.

“They offer one-to-one, face-to-face sessions and group support with the aim to empower and enhance the ability to live well. Weekly sessions are ran at our Wellbeing Centre on Drake Street, as well as outreach sessions in community buildings such as Heywood Library and Khubsuret House where we have a range of activities and open days, all of which are free to attend and funded by Rochdale and District Mind supporters, fundraising and grants.”

A representative for Awakening Minds CIC said: “Thank you for the recognition, it’s fantastic for our team morale, who have been tirelessly, and selflessly committed to prioritising the rights, wishes, and needs of others. This is for each and every one of us, who continue to stand together, hand in hand, and shoulder to shoulder. What we do is not hard work, it’s ‘heart work’.”

Lee Geirnaert, H&S and Security Manager, Zen Internet, said: “We were delighted to win the Special Recognition Award for supporting the VCSE sector.”

Jill Nagy, chief executive of Rochdale Training, said: “We are very proud to receive this award.

“Rochdale Training works hard to meet the needs of our community, embracing our diverse range of learners. We are the home of apprenticeships for everyone.”

Catherine Widdrington, of Tree of Life educational and holistic services, said: “We are so humbled to have gained the diversity in education award. 

“We are committed to offering an inclusive curriculum, environment and mental health therapy to those who attend on a bespoke basis. We look forward to working more within schools, passing our knowledge of reasonable adjustments and sensory spaces that can be achieved within each and every school within Rochdale. Being part of a whole community change for a better future for all.”

Councillor Janet Emsley, the council’s joint deputy leader and portfolio holder for equalities, safety and reform, said: “We are incredibly pleased to win this award for championing equality and diversity in our workplace.

“Last year our apprenticeship programme saw 30% of new recruits coming from minority backgrounds. This also included apprenticeships with special educational needs.

“We continuously work towards achieving a balanced workforce by developing opportunities, supporting progression, and retaining people from all of our communities.” 

Becky Smyllie, art for wellbeing project co-ordinator at Cartwheel Arts, said: “We are delighted to have accepted this award on behalf of the Little Artists project.

!This project was a delight to run with wonderful families from around Rochdale. We are incredibly proud of the families contribution, especially our Little Artists who helped to develop an exciting activity pack that has been used in schools across Rochdale, all at the ages of 2-4 years. Their legacy continues as we run more sessions with new families who are contributing to more useful resources.

“We see our Little Artists grow in confidence and creativity whilst making real change in the world. This award is a wonderful accolade that we can’t wait to share. None of this would have been possible without our wonderful partners, Deeplish Community Centre and Rochdale Borough Council, as well as our dedicated funders, Ragdoll Foundation, Action Together and One Rochdale Health and Care.”



The Awards Winners Are:

Rochdale and District Mind’s Dementia and Care Services Team won the Breaking Barriers Award The Dementia Care Services Team and Rochdale and District Mind CEO Rebecca Steel (centre)
Diversity in public sector partnership working award – Rochdale Sixth Form College
Diversity in Health & Social Care – Petrus Communities
Cohesion Award – Cartwheel Arts
Diversity in Apprenticeships – Rochdale Training
Diversity in Education Award – Tree of Life
Outstanding Achievement in Diversity Award – Humera Haqqani MBE
Special Recognition Award for supporting the VCSE sector – Zen Internet
Voluntary and Faith Sector Award – Awakening Minds
Workforce Diversity Award – Rochdale Borough Council
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