SMK Awards


What are the awards?
Each year, SMK celebrates the best campaigns and campaigners – whether working locally or nationally, and from individuals and community groups to people working in large organisations. Our interest is in finding those who have made change happen – most effectively, creatively and courageously.

On Thursday 23 March we held a wonderful and inspiring 12th Campaigner Awards in London. 

For information on each of our Award winners, see below. 


Gender Equality

Robyn Boosey, Rachel Nye and Rebecca Bunce
IC Change campaign

The campaign was set up in 2014 to get the Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women and domestic violence

Over two years, alongside day jobs, Robyn, Rachel and Rebecca built a powerful network of women’s organisations, an active and committed volunteer supporter network and worked with parliamentarians to bring forward a Private Members Bill on ratifying the Convention, and get it through its second reading. The Government has now announced that it would support the Bill, which commits it to a timetable for ratification and annual reporting on ending violence against women. @ICChangeUK


Tamsin Fitzgerald who launched The BENCH, which aims to tackle gender inequality within the UK dance sector and ensure female makers receive the same opportunities as male makers of work. @FitzTamsin

Talat Yaqoob and the ‘Women 50:50’ campaign which aims to ensure that all parliamentary parties in Scotland commit to gender equality and field candidate lists that are gender equal. @talatyaqoob

Sponsored by 

Environmental Justice

Natalie Fee
Switch the Stick

After being shocked at the amount of plastic cotton buds she was finding during beach cleans along the River Avon in Bristol and on beaches in Cornwall, Natalie secured £15K of funding from three water companies and soon after got 6,000 signatures on her petition and 80,000 views of her campaign film. After being approached by 38 Degrees, Natalie got another 155,000 people to sign her petition and over 100K viewed her second campaign film.

By December 2016 all UK supermarkets had agreed to ‘Switch the Stick’ to paper, a move which will prevent at least 89 tonnes of single-use plastic being produced and flushed each year. @CitytoSeaBrist


Runners up

Don Ferris and his SAS Beach Cleans campaign which use’s creative ways of mobilising others to join in on beach cleans across the country. @SASBeachCleans

Philip Kingston and Grandparents for a Safe Earth which mobilises grandparents and elders across the country to take direct action to raise awareness of the risks of global warming and climate change.

Sponsored by  

Health Award

Sally Burke
The Maisie Campaign 

The campaign grew from Sally’s struggles to get the right care for her daughter, Maisie, who has autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. Maisie’s condition deteriorated while she was placed in inappropriate mental health inpatient units, hundreds of miles away from home Sally took the brave decision to speak out about the detrimental effect that being so far away from home had on her daughter, which lead to the successful introduction of a much needed 24/7 crisis service and the announcement by NHS England that a new inpatient service will be commissioned to start this year. Sally has also helped launch a new charity, ‘Aim Higher’, a parent-led organisation promoting the social inclusion of children and young adults with autism or mental health conditions. @getmaisiehome

Runners up

Katy Styles an advocate for people and families living with motor neurone disease who has highlighted the financial support disabled people and their carers need. @WillowKaty

James McNaught, for the ‘Cancer on Board’ campaign which aims to raise public awareness and consideration of cancer and hidden disabilities. @CancerOnBoard

Sponsored by 

Economic Justice

Lisa Nathan- Share Actions
Sarah Corbett- The Craftivist Collective 

When Lisa became project lead of the Share Action campaign to increase the uptake of Living Wage accreditation among companies in the FTSE100, only six companies in the FTSE100 were accredited Living Wage employers. This number now stands at 30 and as a result of Lisa’s work, at least 12,000 workers now earn the Living Wage.

Sarah Corbett and the Craftivist Collective joined forces with ShareAction to call on Marks and Spencer’s to pay the Living Wage. After coordinating a series of ‘stitch-ins’ at branches of Marks & Spencer across the UK, the company announced its plan to increase staff pay to £8.50 per hour in UK stores and £9.65 per hour in greater London from April 2017. @lisarnathan @Craftivists

Runners up

Heather Kennedy
and the Fair Funerals campaign which aims to seek an end to the underlying causes of funeral poverty. @endfuneralpov

Danielle Tiplady for the Bursary or Bust campaign who has campaigned to protect the bursary funding available for nursing and midwifery students. @daniellejade198 

Sponsored by  

Social Justice

Safe Passage team
Safe Passage

The Safe Passage campaign used operational delivery, strategic litigation and political advocacy, as well as visible citizen support, to provide safe and crucially, legal,  routes for unaccompanied children and vulnerable adults to come to the UK. Since their campaigning, around 200 unaccompanied refugee children arriving from France have been given sanctuary in the UK under the Dubs amendment, and in total 1050 refugee children have arrived safely and legally in the UK through the routes Safe Passage have opened. @safepassageuk

Runners up

Sam Grant, for the Rene Cassin campaign- which aimed to give the Jewish community a more robust voice on human rights issues in the UK, particularly on the issue of indefinite immigration detention. @Sammy_G1988

Reclaim for their campaign ‘Built By’ which works with young people in Manchester to tackle the debate around the class system in the UK, empowering working class communities to take pride in their class, and see its strengths not its barriers. @RECLAIMproject

Sponsored by 

People and Place: Local Campaigner

Janice Beggs 
Carnegie Oldpark Library 

The campaign started after her local library was abandoned by the public sector. Janice held a candle of light for community ownership of this architectural heritage asset and decided to go to the public auction of the derelict building, having £1,000 in her purse (her life savings). Janice persuaded the eventual buyer to partner with the Lower Oldpark Community Association, to restore the building to its original state and to licence its future use for community benefit. @CarnegieOldpark


Jill Huish’s Save Oxfordshire’s Children Centres campaign which aimed to stop Oxfordshire County Council closing 44 of its children’s centres. Jill eventually succeeded in reducing the cuts from £8 million to £2 million, protecting some centres from closure.

Sponsored by Sheila McKechnie Foundation Logo

Housing and Homelessness

Betsy Dillner, Dan Wilson Craw, Seb Klier 
Generation Rent

The campaign has given a voice to the growing private renter population and campaigns for policies to give renters more secure, affordable and decent housing.Generation Rent was one of the major organisations that campaigned for a ban on letting fees, which the Government announced in November 2016, which will help renters move home more easily, giving them greater power in a rental market where too often the odds are stacked against them. They have pushed the Government into improving policies on regulating landlords, encouraging longer tenancies, building affordable housing and pushing the Mayor of London to pursue initiatives to improve renting in London. @genrentuk

Runners up

Catherine Harrington and the ‘Housing: It’s In Our Hands’ campaign which significantly raised the political and public profile of Community Land Trusts (CLTs), helping secure £60 million annual funding for CLT’s and community-led housing. @community_land

Dave Palmer who has helped build support and momentum in the housing sector and in Government for Co-op housing schemes throughout Wales. @WalesCoOpCentre

Sponsored by 

Transport Award

Graham Ellis
Save the Train

Graham started the campaign to improve the inadequate train service in Melksham, Wiltshire, a town with a population of 25,000 and rapidly growing. His campaign attracted the attention of several Wiltshire MPs, and LSTF funding was secured for an increased, trial service. This trial proved to be so successful, the increased service has now become a permanent part of the franchise.The new line has become the fastest growing line in England. Passenger journey numbers have risen from around 3,000 to 60,000 per annum (to March 2016). People have now been able to take jobs where they had none; they can travel to education facilities that were previously unreachable, and move to housing they can afford. @wellho 

Runners up

Summer Dean and Emily Yates for the Southern Justice campaign which has mobilised and spoken for commuters throughout the Southern rail dispute through imaginative protests and Crowdfunding for legal challenges. @Summertvuk @MsEYates

Kate Fielden & Kate Freeman for their Save Stonehenge campaign which is trying to prevent damage to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS), particularly from the Government proposals to expand the A303. @SaveStonehenge

Sponsored by 

Lifetime Achievement

Margaret Aspinall
Hillsborough Family Support Group

Margaret who, along with other members of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, have campaigned tirelessly to bring justice to those who were injured and the 96 people that lost their lives at the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989. Margaret’s 18-year-old son James was one of the 96 football fans who lost their lives in the tragedy, and she has since spent 28 years seeking the truth about what happened at the Sheffield stadium. Her determination and drive has inspired many and in 2015 she was awarded a CBE in the New Years’ Honours List for her tireless campaigning on behalf of the families After campaigning against an original verdict of accidental death, the final inquest gave a verdict, shortly after the 27th anniversary of the disaster that the fans were unlawfully killed. @HFSG_Official

Sponsored by  

People's Choice Award

Roger Casale

Roger founded New Europeans in 2013 to represent the rights of EU citizens and encourage them to engage more in European politics. In 2016 they launched a campaign following the vote for the UK to leave the European Union, which aims to secure the post-Brexit rights of the 3.3m EU citizens currently resident in the UK. Roger has led the campaign focusing on mobilising individuals and direct lobbying of politicians, which has helped to change the narrative of how EU citizens are viewed. The campaign has led to the setting up of a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Movement. @rogercasale

Runners up

Emily Stott and Sophie Barber
started the Childfare campaign in August 2016 out of frustration that various attractions and travel companies were charging young people between the ages of 16 – 18 years old, full adult prices for services and attractions. Emily and Sophie have appeared in various media outlets, including the BBC, Sunday Times and Radio 4, and have directly lobbied a range of MPs and company bosses. Successes to date include a new “Childfare Hero Status”, to recognise companies that do not charge 16 – 18 year olds full adult prices. @Childfare

Alex Flynn, the head of media and campaigns at Unite the Union, led a campaign which was launched to expose poor employment practices at Sports Direct and put pressure on the company to change. The campaign engaged directly with workers making them aware of their employment rights and encouraging them to organise, as well as targeting Sports Direct. The campaign led to commitments for changes from Sports Direct senior management team, including a commitment to staff representation on their board and over £1million in back pay to Sports Direct staff who were not paid the minimum wage. @alextf75 @unitetheunion

Johann Malawana, one of the main public faces who led the high-profile campaign against the Government’s new contract for junior doctors. He worked tirelessly to encourage thousands of people (not just doctors) to support the campaign, resulting in over 120,000 people signing a parliamentary petition and a YouGov poll in November 2015 that showed that the majority of the public backed the junior doctor’s campaign. @johannmalawana

We are crowdfunding for this Award- visit here to donate! 

For more information on last years winners click HERE to view the 2016 awards brochure 

Award Winner Quote

“As young working class women from Newcastle, working as Teenage Domestic Violence Peer Educators at West End Women and Girls Centre, we are honoured to be awarded the Sheila McKechnie Foundation Gender Equality Campaigner  Award 2016.

To go to the House of Lords for the award ceremony and meet the other campaigners was truly inspiring and has made us even more passionate and determined to fight for social justice, equality and an end to violence against women and girls.

The award really supported our case to get another year’s funding for our work and we have been training other young women in the North East to act as Domestic Abuse Champions in their schools and colleges and to reach as many young people as possible.

By the end of 2016 we will have DV Champions in every school in Northumberland and Newcastle.”

Laura Christer and Sophie Murtha
Domestic Violence Peer Educators
Gender Equality Campaigner Award Winner 2016

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