Our Charlotte was a double award winner at the Heart of Salford awards – here she tells us about the experience.

Getting a nomination at the Heart of Salford awards for the work that I do with the Empowered Conversations project run by Six Degrees was an amazing surprise.

I was convinced that there were more worthy people than me so I went along to the awards ceremony with my dad with no expectations!

After the yummy lunch, the ceremony got underway with bubbly host Emma Goswell from BBC Radio Manchester and Gaydio.

Each category at the awards – set up by Salford CVS – showcased the amazing shortlisted nominees and hearing all about their hard work in supporting the community, charities and social enterprise with their voluntary work – helping isolated and vulnerable groups in Salford.

The final vote for the overall category winners was put to the audience at the awards. If I’m being honest, I was shocked to be shortlisted in my category, which was the Josie Browne Personal Achievement Award, celebrating individuals who have overcome personal difficulties but still make time to volunteer.

I had even convinced myself I knew who the winner would be – a woman who lives with mental health issues but volunteers at a suicide prevention hotline. I had my gracious clap ready and waiting when surprise of surprises the name announced as the winner was my own! I could not suppress my happiness but also made sure to shout out a quick “well done” to the other nominees.

As if that wasn’t enough, each of the winners of the first five categories were put forward for the audience to vote for one overall winner who would be crowned Volunteer of the Year. I was the most nervous I had been all day trying to appear nonchalant but unable to stop hearing the thud, thud, thud of my heart in my chest as we waited for the winner to be announced. Again, I was not expecting to have my name called and when it was, the room erupted into thunderous applause and loud cheers, which was a fantastic experience. I felt honoured and humbled to be the recipient and it was lovely that people I had never even met before appeared to be so happy for me.

I just want to say a massive thank you to Six Degrees for allowing me to volunteer in the first place. This social enterprise is such a passionate, welcoming team and EVERYONE in the group does such awesome, fulfilling work. I could not produce the apparently good work I do if you didn’t make me feel so included and welcome. The nomination and subsequent winning of the awards has greatly boosted my confidence, helped me believe I can achieve worthwhile things and shown that I can be of benefit to others while living with my disability.