An employee at Camphill MK, a supported living community in the heart of Milton Keynes, has been shortlisted for a Make A Difference Award, an annual event held by the BBC, designed to celebrate people who make life better for others. These awards recognise unsung heroes nationally, reflecting everything from voluntary work in the community to going above and beyond at a place of work.
Ewa Maziarz joined Camphill MK a month before the coronavirus pandemic, having never worked in social care before. She moved to Milton Keynes from Poland 14 years ago with two children and worked for over a decade in local coffee shops and restaurants. Once her children grew older, she decided to refocus her career on her passion for helping people.
“I discovered the Camphill MK workshop but did not have any experience to begin with. The charity offered me a role as bank staff so I could see if a career in adult social care was right for me. By my third shift, I had fallen in love with the family atmosphere and I made it my mission to join the charity permanently. This is not just a place of work. The effort you put in makes a real positive impact on people’s lives.”
Ewa used her initiative to start fitness classes for residents, art and craft sessions in the evenings and dance exercise groups during COVID-19 lockdowns, aiming to keep residents active and healthy during a challenging time. Since then, Ewa has introduced residents to horse riding, taken them on holiday in her own time, helped a resident relocating from Scotland with their anxieties and provided the wider Camphill MK community with access to activities such as trips to London, local safari parks and Harry Potter World. She is now completing her Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care, with the support of her employer.
“In 30 years of work, I have never felt more supported than I do at Camphill MK. English is not my first language, but this has never been a problem and my career continues to develop in brilliant ways. I was shocked to learn I had been nominated for this award, but not surprised this came from my colleagues, as they always show me so much appreciation. Creating a happy environment for residents is what motivates me more than anything, but I am very happy and excited for the awards and for winners to be announced.”
The BBC 3 Counties Radio Make A Difference Awards will take place on Thursday 22nd September at The Grove Theatre in Dunstable, in conjunction with a network of awards running throughout September in each of the 40 local BBC Radio station regions. The station received almost 300 nominations across 8 categories for the 3 Counties event, including the Carer Award category that Ewa has now been shortlisted for.
Tom Bridle, Registered Manager for Camphill, said:
“Ewa is an exceptional support worker who we are proud to call our own. In the space of two years, she has risen to be one of the most innovative, person-centred and creative members of our team. Ewa always volunteers her time and energy, from dressing up on Halloween to arranging group dance-offs on the green and coming up with fresh ways to make the lives of people we support that little bit brighter. We are delighted she has deservedly been recognised in this way and we all wish her the very best of luck with the awards.”
The founders of Milton Keynes invited the international Camphill movement to create homes in the city in 1980. A community was built in Willen Park and Pennyland for adults with learning disabilities and autism in a space that embraced the outdoors and creativity, whilst offering meaningful opportunities to all residents.
40 years on and Camphill MK is now home to 65 residents with a purpose-built theatre, a ceramics studio, weavery, bakery, allotments and a public-facing café. These structures were originally built with local trades and a flock of volunteers. The charity is currently embarking on a £14m capital appeal to expand and upgrade its facilities, aiming to support even more people in future.