Meir Watch

A Facebook post by Tracey Edwards 12 years ago has grown into a community support group with more than 18,000 followers.

Tracey and her Meir Watch group are involved in a long list of activities to support people throughout the community including events and activities for children, free school uniform and meals during school holidays, support with gardening, promoting the area and its businesses and much more.

During the pandemic Tracey, 36, stepped up to give much needed guidance and mental health support.

The mum of three has been praised for providing what has become a vital lifeline for many within her community.

She has been nominated as a Charity Champion or Volunteer of the Year in the Your Heroes Awards and Meir Watch has been nominated as a Community Group of the Year.

James Weaver said: “Tracey put out 1,000 teddies over lockdown and supported us all by giving food parcels throughout and video so we knew what was happening.

“Meir was a shell and she has worked hard to fill the town up. All businesses support Tracey and contribute to the things she does. That includes Easter eggs she collects from the businesses and sweets that she hides in plastic eggs so that all kids get an egg or sweets.

“At Halloween there are gift bags and at Christmas she collects toys with Caverswall Scout Club and members.

“She promotes health and wellbeing and shares what is available. She even gets our potholes sorted. She planted flowers in the town and painted our planters and benches. She also does litter picks – a lot of them.

“She’s just selfless. There even does mental health messages and give outs because she knows we are all struggling. She even gives out seed and pots so we can grow things ourselves.

“I’ve seen her find lost animals and even solve crimes. I am proud to be from Meir. Tracey deserves a thank you. I’ve missed a lot of what she does but I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”

Mickey Boulton said: “Tracey has been there all the time for the past 11 years. She finds our animals and lost items. She promotes the town, which is now bursting with business. She supports all the schools.

“I have never seen anyone so kind and thoughtful. She has stood up for us when we needed it the most.

“She has this presence, when you’re around her you feel safe. I can’t think of a better person to receive a thank you.”

Tracey said she was surprised but very happy to be nominated for a Your Heroes Award.

She said: “I put a post on Facebook about 12 years ago and it spread from there. The more I did, the more people responded. We just seem to do everything – people inbox me and I try to help them if I can. Apart from my three kids, Meir Watch is my main focus.”

The Music in You

The Music in You is a collection of choirs that not only supports people who want to sing, it makes members feel part of a community.

The group, headed by Ashley Mellor, includes more than 20 choirs spanning the majority of Staffordshire. There are around 400 choir members ranging from five to 95 years old.

Ashley said: “It’s an inclusive environment, we welcome anyone who’d like to give singing a go. For those that want to develop and to progress in this field, I can put them on the right path to get to where they want to be. For those who want to come for the joy of singing, then we have a place for them.

“We’ve had some great events, some really large in size. However the day-to-day running of these groups of choirs is what keeps me going. The people are amazing and there’s a real community spirit.”

Lucy Forrest has nominated The Music in You in the Community Group of the Year category of the Your Heroes Awards.

She said: “Having music back in my life, even for this relatively short period of time so far, has changed me beyond measure. Despite continuing heavy challenges in life and especially with my health, every day I grow stronger, braver and more resilient.

“I can’t put into words how much of a positive impact there has been in my mental health from being back in the world of music, and every day I am thankful for the opportunities Ashley provides and the support he is willing to offer in every single sense of the word.

“His musical genius knows no boundaries, but it’s so much more than that. Within all our choir families he creates an atmosphere of acceptance, of warmth, of joy, of friendship, of laughter, of hard work, of achievement. He stands by each and every one of us no matter what, and he will always go the extra mile without question when we need him.

“I’ve said to Ashley before that he and his music and his business have changed my life since I met him. It’s actually more than that – he has absolutely saved my life and from the bottom of my heart he will forever have my thanks.”

Ashley said: “I’m overwhelmed by the wonderful feedback. I’m very proud of what our choirs have achieved. To me and the people that I work with it’s more than just music, it’s an extension of our family.

“I’m really chuffed that The Music in You has had some recognition because we are made up of some wonderful people.”

Alice Charity

“On November27, 2021 my husband committed suicide and just five weeks later my six-year-old son had a tragic accident at home. He suffered a sudden and unexpected medical episode in the bath and devastatingly lost his life. Without the Alice Charity, I would not be here today. We’ve lost a lot over the past few years, but I also know we’ve gained a family within the Alice Charity” – these are the words of just one person supported by the Alice Charity.

In 2023 The Alice Charity supported 7,688 children, completed 4,470 home visits to support families, made 4,385 wellbeing calls, held 320 parent and toddler groups and provided 21,015 meals through its foodbank.

The charity was created in 2011 to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families across Stoke- on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

It believes in providing strong foundations and diverse services to help individuals to thrive. It has an unwavering commitment to wellness, kindness and community advancement.

Alice has a core staff of 12 employees and has been supported by more than 40 volunteers and placement students from Keele University, Staffordshire University and Newcastle College over the past year. The charity is also supported by organisations including Hanley Economic Building Society, AMB Insurance, Panda Press and RSM.

Every family helped includes at least one person under the age of 18 with wide-range support including the likes of food parcels, help with household budgeting, emotional support and even providing furniture and household items for people in difficult circumstances.

Alice Charity has been entered into the Community Group of the Year category of the Your Heroes Awards by CEO Heather Sheldon.

She said: “Alice is a great place. There is lots of love in our team and everyone here wants to make a difference. I am entering the Your Heroes Awards in recognition of the people who work so hard to make that difference.”

Sutton Trust Community Group

A Stoke-on-Trent community group has been nominated in the Community Group of the Year category of the Your Heroes Awards for its work including caring for a community garden.

Sutton Trust Community Group has been put forward for the accolade by Matthew Bridger, who chairs the board of trustees.

He said: “At the heart of their impactful work lies the Betty Rushton Community Gardens—a vibrant space that transcends the conventional notion of a community garden.

“More than just a collection of plants and greenery, it is a haven for fostering connections, personal growth and community development.

“The garden provides a serene environment where individuals can engage in light exercise, participate in gardening activities and develop new skills.

“It’s a space where the therapeutic power of nature combines with the joy of communal activities, creating a truly transformative experience.”

The Sutton Trust also stages community events and celebrations including an annual fireworks display and a Christmas lights switch-on event.

It also organises outreach and engagement sessions to help residents to overcome challenges, develop new skills and forge meaningful connections.

Matthew added: “The impact of The Sutton Trust Community Group’s work is immeasurable. Behind the statistics and numbers are real stories of individuals whose lives have been touched and transformed.”

Check back again soon to see more Community Group of the Year nominees