Published: 15:30, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 15:37, 22 July 2021
A scheme created to celebrate the unsung heroes in our community is back for a second year.
The Compassionate Community Awards, a collaboration by the Heart of Kent Hospice and Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), supported by the KM, aim to thank those who have gone above and beyond to help others in the past year.
Among last year’s winners were a taxi firm which redeployed drivers to give free journeys to nurses and doctors and a head teacher who set himself silly challenges to help put a smile on his students’ faces.
Now, as we transition out of lockdown restrictions, it is hoped a wider range of examples of compassion can also be celebrated.
Alison Broom, the chief executive at MBC, said: “When we launched the awards last year, we had already had one wave and one lockdown.
“Now we have had several more and things are changing yet again so this is an opportunity to continue to recognise the loss, but also the brilliant kindness and care that people have been demonstrating while looking at opportunities for renewal.
“At the end of last year we had another lockdown, lots of flooding and the EU Brexit transition meant many drivers were stuck on the motorway not able to get home for Christmas.
“The community responded to the welfare needs of drivers and that is an example of what should be recognised as compassion.”
There are prizes across six categories open to people in the borough of Maidstone and close surrounding areas.
Nominations are being sought for those who have demonstrated compassion in the workplace and business; care and residential homes; schools; and in communities - such as the work of parish councils.
There will also be awards for acts of kindness by neighbours or volunteers and by young people under 18.
Rachel Street, interim chief executive at Heart of Kent Hospice, said: “Last year’s award winners were incredible and the quality of the nominations across the six categories were amazing.
“We know the pandemic isn’t over and we know people’s efforts have not stopped so we want to continue to celebrate and highlight that.”
Covid allowing, it is hoped there will be a ceremony to hand out the awards and celebrate the winners in the autumn.
The category focusing on finding a selfless business or workplace is looking for a company that has adapted the way it works to meet the needs of others.
Last year's winner was Express Cabs which offered a 10 to 15% keyworker discount on taxi rides.
This turned into free journeys for healthcare workers at the height of lockdown, when the firm set up a Go Fund Me page.
Around £1,500 was raised and 203 complimentary rides given out.
It also ferried food and medication to elderly customers who were shielding and set up a free emergency care line for customers in desperate situations.
Just some examples of worthy actions include businesses that have helped employees work differently, invested in training, put measures in place to ensure staff wellbeing, or encouraged furloughed workers to participate in community activities.
Alternatively they may have helped customers by extending and adapting services or delivering goods in times of need.
Ms Street added: “All workplaces have had to adapt during the pandemic and there are lots we are aware of that have gone the extra mile in either supporting their employees or their customers.
“This category is looking for a company that has recognised the role it plays in its community and has demonstrated it has something to give.”
Entries are now open and close at 5pm on August 27.
To nominate a business, in no more than 250 words in writing, video or voice recording, send in some examples of how it has demonstrated compassion.
Pictures can also be attached.
The nominations will be shortlisted by judges Alison Broom, Rachel Street, KM editors and Cllr David Burton, the leader of MBC, in September. The winners will be announced on October 21.
To find out more, click here