British Citizen Award


Joyce Obaseki, from Loughton, was originally from Nigeria, moving to the UK 20 years ago, Joyce has inspired and made an impact on children and adults in her community. Joyce started her career as a supply teacher in 2000 eventually taking a whole school responsibility as a Teacher Coach where she mentored and coached teachers to be better in their roles.

Joyce’s commitment began five years ago when a bedraggled boy walked into her classroom, crying due to bullying which had resulted from a dirty school uniform. Digging deeper, and asking why his uniform was dirty, what he told her broke her heart. His mum, suffering from Cancer, was currently too ill to wash his clothes. She had asked him to wash them himself, but he had forgotten.

Joyce realised a gap, where this child was in need, but not at risk. She tried to find an external organisation that could help but there was none. After this event, Joyce created Grant a Smile, a not for profit organisation ready to step in and help qualifying families that needed help – whether it is cleaning the home, washing clothes or just listening, Joyce saw a way where she could really make a difference. Joyce wanted to make sure that children that have a need had the practical support they need at home. 1 in 4 children in the UK are suffering a similar fate, with a parent battling a life-limiting or mental health condition.

Due to her experience working with children whose parents are either chronically ill, terminally ill or going through mental health issues, Joyce resigned from her successful teaching career and decided to give all her energy to Grant a Smile. By getting involved at the root cause, Grant a Smile provides interventional support and the effect is outstanding, people are less depressed, feel supported and this in itself helps emotional, mental and psychological wellbeing of both the parents and the children.

The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.

Joyce is one of 29 medalists who will be honoured at a prestigious ceremony on July 5th, at the Palace of Westminster. All BCA recipients have selflessly undertaken various activities in support of a number of worthy causes. Each will receive a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medalists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name. Speaking about her nomination, Joyce said: “I am delighted and honoured to be receiving this prestigious award. It feels wonderful to be recognised for the life-changing work that we do for our community and I want to thank our kind volunteers for helping us grant smiles to families in dire need”.

The awards are sponsored by the world’s largest optical retailer, Specsavers; one of the largest property and leisure management, development and regeneration companies in the UK, Places for People; and worldwide leader in IT and networking, Cisco. Each had representatives at the assessment day and will be presenting the awards in July, alongside TV star host, Michael Underwood.

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