One of the first people James Hadleigh met when he joined Care Network Blackburn in 2010 was Stephen Gallagher, and 12 years on he couldn’t be more proud of his progress.

The charity supports residents of Blackburn with Darwen with issues that may be affecting their wellbeing or quality of life. For Stephen, who was shy and found it difficult to trust new people, the service helped him to overcome those barriers, enabling him to make friends and develop skills to help others too. This all led to Stephen taking a pivotal role in his local community during the pandemic.

James, Chief Executive of the charity, said: “When Stephen first came to us, he was at a bit of a loose end, so we encouraged him to join social groups and got him involved with the Learning Disability Partnership Board and Resolve, our Disability Peer Support Group. This helped improve his confidence and he now has a much wider circle of friends. The difference from when I first met Stephen is remarkable. He’s a lot more confident, not only with us because he knows us, but with other people and the general public.”

This made Stephen an ideal candidate for the Covid Community Champions project, which involved volunteers delivering key public health messages to the local community throughout the pandemic. 

As part of Stephen’s work to help keep communities safe during Covid, he shared a video encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Through Care Network Blackburn and the Covid Community Champions project, Stephen was able to make a real difference during the pandemic and feels a true sense of family and community as a volunteer. He said: “We all look after each other. You know you’ve got someone who supports you.”

Stephen Gallagher is just one of 300 Covid Community Champions who came together through Care Network to support people through the pandemic…

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