CLAIRE UP FOR PRIDE OF BRI­TAIN

Western Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Thomas Dea­con Re­porter thomas.dea­con@waleson­line.co.uk

AMUM-OF-TWO who helps hun­dreds of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple across south Wales has been an­nounced as one of the fi­nal­ists for the Mir­ror’s Pride of Bri­tain Award 2017.

Claire Day founded Street Life Sarnies (SLS) in 2014, which helps pro­vide peo­ple in need with es­sen­tials in­clud­ing food, toi­letries, cloth­ing and sleep­ing bags.

The com­mu­nity group helps peo­ple in a range of cir­cum­stances, from those liv­ing on the streets to peo­ple and fam­i­lies flee­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Lo­cal res­i­dents pledge what items they can do­nate, while Claire then sorts and passes them on to dif­fer­ent projects across New­port, Chep­stow, Cwm­bran and Cardiff.

Claire is a fi­nal­ist for the Pride of Bri­tain TSB Com­mu­nity Part­ner Award, which cel­e­brates peo­ple who help oth­ers across the UK. The fi­nal­ists were an­nounced on Wed­nes­day at a star-stud­ded cer­e­mony at The Speak­ers House at the House of Com­mons.

Claire, 44, from Chep­stow, said: “I’m not a great per­son for at­ten­tion or things like that and it’s not just me, it is the whole com­mu­nity, but it nice to have the recog­ni­tion.

“And any­thing that gets us more public­ity and gets us more do­na­tions is al­ways wel­come. We’re all just hu­man be­ings at SLS, try­ing to jug­gle it all around life.”

Claire, a spe­cial needs teach­ing as­sis­tant, de­cided to start SLS after vis­it­ing a sim­i­lar pro­gramme in Bris­tol.

She said: “We started in July 2014 and we had been go­ing to a project in Bris­tol which helped peo­ple from out of the back of cars.

“In that July it got really, really busy be­cause in Bris­tol a lot of these pro­grammes peo­ple rely on closed.

“One time there was about 30 or 40 packs [of es­sen­tial items] and more than 200 peo­ple wait­ing for them.

“I can’t ex­plain how gut-wrench­ing that was to see. So we got in our car and it was then that we de­cided to help.”

The early stages of SLS saw Claire de­cide to post an ap­peal for do­na­tions of es­sen­tial items on so­cial me­dia, which re­ceived hun­dreds of pos­i­tive re­sponses.

“By the Septem­ber we thought ‘we just can’t stop’. It’s all about peo­ple want­ing to help but they just don’t know how to do it.”

Each year SLS runs a Christ­mas cam­paign to dis­trib­ute shoe­boxes full of es­sen­tials and presents, re­ceiv­ing more than 1,500 boxes last year. The group is cur­rently plan­ning to launch this year’s cam­paign.

SLS is sup­ported by thou­sands of vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing Claire’s 45-year-old hus­band Bart and her two chil­dren.

The Mir­ror’s Pride of Bri­tain Awards, in part­ner­ship with TSB, is the big­gest na­tional event of its kind.

Hosted by Carol Vor­der­man, it is broad­cast every year in a prime time slot on ITV. The star-stud­ded cer­e­mony will be held at Grosvenor House in Lon­don later this month.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn, who at­tended the re­cep­tion in Lon­don on Wed­nes­day, said: “The Mir­ror’s Pride of Bri­tain Awards are ab­so­lutely bril­liant. They re­ward peo­ple who’ve made great sac­ri­fices to help oth­ers. They might have com­pleted acts of hero­ism like pulling some­one from a burn­ing car, or it might be some­one fight­ing in their com­mu­nity, for a de­cent park or youth fa­cil­i­ties. Above all, they give peo­ple con­fi­dence and strength. I get emo­tional watch­ing the awards, on TV or in per­son.”

The Mir­ror’s Pride of Bri­tain Awards, in part­ner­ship with TSB, recog­nises or­di­nary peo­ple who do ex­tra­or­di­nary things, in­clud­ing chil­dren who have over­come awein­spir­ing chal­lenges, those who have risked them­selves to save oth­ers, and every­day he­roes who have trans­formed the lives of the peo­ple around them.

Rowan Grif­fiths

> Claire Day, pic­tured with Carol Vor­der­man, founded Street Life Sarnies (SLS), a project that pro­vides home­less peo­ple in south Wales with es­sen­tials in­clud­ing food, toi­letries, cloth­ing and sleep­ing bags

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