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The Hummingbird Project has only just gone and did it again!

The social enterprise based in Portstewart run by a team of mental health experts; all of whom have lived experience of mental ill health themselves, has won the Health and Social Care category at the prestigious Social Enterprise NI Awards 2021.

Leigh Carey, CEO of The Hummingbird Project dedicated the award, sponsored by Halifax Foundation NI “to all our clients and participants who inspire us every day.”

(L-R) Jill Huston, James McAleese and Leigh Carey (The Hummingbird Project NI) with Brenda McMullan (Halifax Foundation NI)

This is the fourth year the team has been nominated with Leigh taking joint Social Enterprise Leader of the Year alongside Nigel Hampton, CEO of IncredABLE in 2019.

For the 2021 award, judges recognised the ‘massive increase in the public profile of Hummingbird during the past 12 months’ with the brand being “widely recognised across the sector.”

Despite Pandemic related pressures, Hummingbird maintained and enhanced its service provision, particularly online “delivering a total of 2860 sessions and supporting 290 people in the last year.”

Over 40% of those who completed their programmes described it as lifesaving. In addition, the judges said, the Social Enterprise had “invested over £400k in emotional wellbeing activities across NI and beyond.”

“It has clear leadership and strategic direction and by developing partnerships with the health and private sectors, has demonstrated value and impact.”

They added: “Endorsement by other external organisations is a bonus and the project is on the right track to grow.”

A very happy Hummingbird Team

Leigh Carey said: “We have been doing much work this year to raise our profile and have enjoyed a much stronger presence in print, radio, online and on social media which is helping to improve brand recognition and awareness.

“But for those who might not be familiar with our work, The Hummingbird Project explores and develops innovative solutions to the mental health crisis in NI.

“We share a belief in people’s ability to recover and adapt to difficult life circumstances and it’s our mission to inspire an ability for people to determine their own emotional health through building a capacity for resilience, in individuals, communities, groups and organisations and across sectors.

“We promote wellbeing using the power of lived experience, based on the knowledge that current statutory services covering mental health and emotional wellbeing are under severe pressure due to the sheer scale of need within society.

“Yet, the joint approach of medical/counselling models are unable to cope with the influx of people requiring support. The Hummingbird Project believes that developing a new social model to address what is a profound societal issue is needed as a viable addition to current interventions.

“It was on that premise we founded the project as a Community Interest Company in 2016 with the values of respect, support, collaboration, integrity and the common purpose to improve lives.  We are now innovating to improve and build resilience in individuals, groups, companies and organisations.”

Service evaluation and client satisfaction, Leigh said was “core to the Hummingbird proposition.”

“We constantly measure and monitor the progress of the solutions we co-design with our clients, both qualitatively and qualitatively. This is extremely important to us, to not only believe we are having an impact but to know statistically and as a matter of fact, we are making a real and lasting difference to many people’s lives.”

In addition to winning the Social Enterprise Leader of the Year Awards 2019 and the 2021 award in the Health and Social Care Category; CEO Leigh Carey was shortlisted for Leader of a Small Organisation by CO3, Chief Officers 3rd Sector.

She is also only one of three WISE women in NI; recognising Leading Women in Social Enterprise. The Hummingbird Project is also the only organisation in NI to be invited to join the Inclusive Economy Partnership.

This is a partnership of businesses, civil society and government departments working together to solve some of society’s toughest challenges, to help all communities and everyone within them feel they belong to and can participate in the UK economy.

Here’s to a fifth nomination!

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