Local lad, Ben Andrews, has been announced as Salford’s Citizen of the Year.
The presentation was made at the Spirit of Salford Community Awards by the Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, and world-renowned musician, Peter Hook, formerly of Joy Division and New Order.
Ben was declared the winner for his work in creating spaces and communities in which disabled people can be physically active.
Drawing on personal experience of a hereditary, degenerative visual impairment, Ben started work in this field nearly a decade ago when he was 17. He first volunteered to tackle the issue on the ground.
Ben went through Salford City College and later graduated with a first class degree from the University of Salford, where he researched preventative initiatives, disability and the prevalence of long-term conditions. From this, Ben was able to articulate a clear case to the NHS about the importance of disabled people becoming and staying active.
Drawing on his commitment, and incubated by social enterprise Unlimited Potential, Ben has developed Empower You from the kernel of an idea and a small pilot into a full-time project that has been tested and proven in both Salford and Trafford as a new way to enable disabled people to sustain physical activity without requiring specialist support and within mainstream facilities.
This work has led to Ben being considered an expert in physical activity by disabled people, as well as national recognition for Empower You. He is now involved in Salford’s Sport England Local Delivery Pilot proposal to support an accessible, inclusive offer for disabled people in mainstream agencies.
“I’m extremely grateful to be considered Salford’s Citizen of the Year”, said Ben. “I thank everyone who voted and have supported me along the way. I hope that winning this award highlights the importance and the benefits of more disabled people being more active.”
Ben is now looking for opportunities to spread his message of inclusivity and accessibility for disabled people beyond Salford and throughout Greater Manchester.
“I really appreciate the funding and support from NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group and Trafford Council that has enabled disabled people to get active”, continued Ben. “I hope that other agencies will be similarly enlightened.”