Winners announced for the 2022 Creative Lives Awards

12 creative groups across the UK and Ireland were celebrated at these prestigious national awards

Creative Lives, the registered charity that champions community and volunteer-led arts activity, is delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 Creative Lives Awards.

From a shortlist of 36 inspiring groups across the UK, the panel, comprising Creative Lives staff and trustees, representatives from local stakeholders and previous winners, had the hard task of choosing the winners from across the four nations. 

Each year, the Awards ceremony is held in a different location across the UK and Ireland. This year, it took place in Leeds on 7 March 2023 as part of LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture.

The Awards were hosted by Nick Ahad of BBC Radio Leeds. 

From England, the winner is Dadesley Crafting, founded in 2021 by three volunteers. The aim is to bring people together, using craft work/practice to combat loneliness and improve mental health and well-being. Now open six days a week, they have a growing membership of over 100 people aged between 18 and 90.

The runner-up from England and joint winner of the Peer Award for Excellence is Bristol Beacon: Different Beginnings. The group has been supporting young children in care and care leaverscreativity through its Hope Creative programme for nearly 10 years, with a youth voice at its very core. The Different Beginnings, The Album Project involved 19 care leavers who participated in the sessions, seven of whom are also on the steering group set up to plan the project’s future. 

From Ireland, the winner is Fatima Groups United. Located in Dublin, the group offers counselling, health and wellbeing, arts and creativity sessions. Their dance programme and poetry group joined forces to create Dance Till Dán, a project celebrating dance, poetry and film. 

The Runner-up from Ireland is The Kindness Postbox in Enniskillen, which connects children and elderly care home residents through cards, letters and drawings. A child-sized postbox was placed inside a local shop for two weeks and pupils from a nearby school dropped mail into it, which was then delivered to a care home. The project has grown with more schools participating and a partnership has been created with local Men's Sheds to build the postboxes. 

From Scotland, the winner is Sewing2gether All Nations. Based in Paisley, Sewing2gether All Nations is a grassroots community-based organisation for members of the refugee and asylum seeker community, primarily supporting women who wish to practise English and build new friendships. The group started providing creative workshops with just two volunteers in 2018 and now has six sessional workers, ten volunteers and around 80 members participating in its activities each year. 

The runner-up from Scotland is Newstead News, based in the Scottish Borders. Started during the pandemic, the Newstead News serves one of the most rurally remote regions of Scotland. Initially a small A4 flyer, the paper has since grown in both size and involvement and now features writing and photography from over 100 contributors, with more joining all the time.

From Wales, the winner is Oasis One World Choir welcoming people seeking sanctuary in Cardiff and the wider community. The choir has become a lifeline for many people who are faced with restarting their lives in a new country; often in a language that is completely new to them. The language of music transcends these barriers, and Oasis One World Choir allows people to make new friends and build a new community.

The runner-up from Wales is Urban Circle Newport, an independent youth arts organisation, that supports and empowers young people and communities. In 2022, Urban Circle organised one of its biggest projects to date - the international festival Reggae and Riddim. The Festival forged solid global partnerships and broke down barriers and prejudice around Jamaican culture and identity to help inform and educate communities.

Members of the public were encouraged to vote for their favourite group/organisation in the People’s Choice Awards. The voting saw a total of just under 12,500 votes cast. The 2022 winner is Bridgwater Carnival, the UK’s oldest carnival and one of the largest illuminated carnival processions in Europe, that takes place every November in Somerset. In 2022, the many clubs that make up the carnival procession put aside their rivalries to collaborate on Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant. Over 200 people of all ages from across the carnival community volunteered their time to make it happen enabling new friendships to be made.

Voted for by groups on the shortlist, the Peer Award for Excellence went to Bristol Beacon and Mental Inkness, a project led by and with people with experience of mental ill health. This digital art gallery brought together over 50 artists and creative writers on social media to discuss the impact and stigmatisation of mental illness. For many, the experience of being part of a creative and kind community lessened feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as developing artistic talent. 

The Celebrating Diversity Award has been won by the African and Caribbean Elders in Scotland. Founded in 2019, African and Caribbean Elders Scotland is an organisation for African and Caribbean over 60s living in Scotland. Members from around the country meet regularly online, providing mutual support, companionship and fun.

With the awards taking place in Leeds this year, the Local Hero Award was awarded to Angela Gabriel, a former Councillor for Beeston & Holbeck who has devoted a huge amount of her time to volunteer for groups Beeston in Bloom and Beeston Festival. Beeston in Bloom promotes community pride through gardening projects. The Beeston Festival, organised by and for local people, celebrates the life and diversity of the local community.

Robin Simpson, Chief Executive, Creative Lives said: "It is truly amazing what volunteer-led creative groups achieve within their communities, overcoming challenges with ingenuity, determination, goodwill and volunteer effort to provide inspiring, life-enhancing experiences for local people. The stories behind the Creative Lives Awards are moving, surprising, joyful and genuinely uplifting. At a time when people face so many difficulties Creative Lives is proud to celebrate the remarkable creative activities taking place in almost every local community that demonstrate how creativity helps us to find a way to make things better.”

Each winner received a specially commissioned framed print and/or framed certificate, cash prize and free access to all of Creative Lives future Creative Learning online training sessions.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the UK Government Lucy Frazer said: "Volunteer-led creative groups play a vital role in communities across the UK and it is fantastic to see them being celebrated at the Creative Lives Awards. I would like to congratulate all the winners and shortlisted groups on their wide range of fantastic achievements which are all worthy of recognition."

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin said: “Many congratulations to Fatima Groups United, winners of the Creative Lives Ireland Award. The work of this Family Resource Centre is a brilliant example of how everyday creativity can enrich people's lives and help to refresh and reclaim a place and a community that has been through challenging times. This is an amazing story of the wonderful life-affirming achievements of a group of local creative volunteers. I would also like to congratulate the Ireland runners-up, The Kindness Postbox in Enniskillen, a beautiful inter-generational project that demonstrates the simple power of kindness. The stories of all the groups shortlisted for the Creative Lives Awards are a testimony to the incredible resourcefulness, ingenuity and determination of volunteers in local communities - often overlooked but contributing so much to the quality of our lives.”

Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities in Northern Ireland said: Congratulations to all the groups who were shortlisted for this year's Creative Lives Awards that showcase the ceaseless energy of the thousands of volunteers who support their local communities through creativity. The Ireland winners, Fatima Groups United, and the Ireland runners-up, The Kindness Postbox, are both excellent examples of local creative volunteers developing and implementing inventive and inspiring ways to make people's lives better.”

Dawn Bowden, MS said: "As the Deputy Minister for Arts & Sport in Wales I am pleased to be able to extend my congratulations to the winners at this year’s Creative Lives Awards. Oasis One World Choir has harnessed one of Wales’ most beloved and long-standing traditions to welcome people seeking sanctuary in Cardiff and the wider community, while Urban Circle in Newport ensures that marginalised voices are given a space to be heard. Llongyfarchiadau to you all!" 

Scotland’s Minister for Culture Neil Gray said: “I’m so pleased to be able to congratulate two winners from Scotland. Firstly, the winners of the Scotland Creative Lives Award for 2022, Sewing2gether All Nations, are a wonderful example of the welcoming nation Scotland is, providing help and support for members of the refugee and asylum seeker community while drawing on Scotland’s rich textile history. Secondly, the winners of the Celebrating Diversity Award, African and Caribbean Elders in Scotland – who have been chosen from all of the entries across the UK and Ireland – are providing a space for African and Caribbean over-60s living in Scotland to connect, share experiences and celebrate their heritage and culture. I’d like to thank all of the shortlisted entrants, including the Scottish runners up Newstead News, for the work they do throughout the year using their creativity to bring people together.”

What the winning groups had to say . . .

Michelle Dunn, Kate Druce and Jacqui Brewster from Dadesley Crafting CIC said: “We are very surprised and honoured to have been chosen as the Judges England Award winners for 2023. Dadesley Crafting CIC is an inclusive crafting group, where everyone is valued for simply being themselves. When someone new walks through the door, they are welcomed like an old friend. The award means that now even more people will discover that crafting is a joy which improves your well-being and helps you make new friends.” 

Lu Bristow, Creative Producer, Bristol Beacon said: “I am so proud that our driven, talented, care experienced young people are getting some recognition and getting heard. The music and creative ideas they come up with are so original and go beyond anything I would come up with myself. I’m often lost for words and feel inspired after spending time with them. As a group of young people, they experience many challenges, yet they stick at it and many of them support each other. It’s such an amazing achievement, and so well deserved and I’m so pleased for them.”

Richie Keane, Community Development Worker, Fatima Groups United said: “It's an honour to receive this accolade for Fatima Groups United and Dublin, particularly as it vindicates all our efforts to develop wider access to the arts as a fundamental right for those who are underrepresented and voiceless. We see daily the transformative power that art can have. That is gratifying and humbling in equal measure. Outcomes and outputs of happiness and joy can't be measured on a spreadsheet  Art can be the springboard for a connected and confident community.”

Nuala O'Toole who set up The Kindness Project said: “We are delighted to be runner-up for Ireland in the Creative Lives Awards. We accept the award on behalf of all the children and teachers, care home residents and staff, and everyone who has been involved in our project. If you can make one small difference to one person's life for one minute in one day, just do that.”

The team from Sewing2gether collectively said: ”We are delighted Sewing2gether All Nations group members are recipients of the Creative Lives Award for Scotland. We are 'New Scots' originating from many countries across the world, from Afghanistan to Venezuela that meets to sew, create and practise English. It is wonderful to receive an award for something that we love so much to do.” 

Lisa Cowan, Newstead News Editor said: “On behalf of everyone who creates the Newstead News, we’re thrilled to have been announced as the Scottish Runners-up for a Creative Lives Award. Who would have thought that a simple leaflet produced at the start of the pandemic would quickly evolve into a colourful, 20-page magazine entirely written and produced by our community. This award belongs to everyone in Newstead, but especially the 100 or so people who have been involved with everything from writing stories to making deliveries. It’s rewarding to see our small village making such a big impact.” 

Tracy Pallant, Project Manager, Oasis One World Choir said: “Oasis One World choir is honoured to be receiving a Creative Lives Award. Oasis One World Choir has been supporting people seeking sanctuary in Cardiff and the wider community since 2015. As an organisation we can break down linguistic and cultural barriers and enable people who arrive here from other parts of the world to share and add to the culture, community and unity of Wales. We get to meet, sing with and learn from the most amazing people from all over the world. We really appreciate Creative Lives for their recognition of Oasis One World Choir.”

Loren Henry, Project Manager at Urban Circle Newport said: “The feedback from across South Wales has been heartwarming. To be recognised for the lengths to build community engagement and local business development has been great to hear coming from local people. For as long as local families continue to support us, our shared efforts to make Newport a colourful and exciting place to live will continue.”

Notes to Editors:

A press kit that includes press releases and photographs from the ceremony can be found here.

Creative Lives (formerly Voluntary Arts) is a registered charity that was established in 1991. We champion community and volunteer-led creative activity, and work to improve opportunities for everyone to be creative. In particular, we celebrate and promote people expressing themselves creatively with others, recognising the benefits this can bring. 

For more information, visit 

The Creative Lives Awards (formerly the Epic Awards) started in 2010, as a way to celebrate and spotlight the incredible achievements of groups and projects providing creativity activity for people of all ages and abilities across the UK and Ireland. 

To read about this years winners, visit