Sandra Schembri wins Charity Bank Change Maker Award 2017

By Jun 22, 2017

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CEO of Soho charity The House of St Barnabas is recognised for her role in creating a members' club to help homeless people find lasting work.

The winners of the Charity Bank Impact Awards 2017 were announced last night (21st June) at a ceremony at Coin Street Conference Centre in London.

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Sandra Schembri, Chief Encouragement Officer of The House of St Barnabas, receives her Change Maker of the Year award from George Blunden, Chair of Charity Bank.

Sandra Schembri, Chief Encouragement Officer of The House of St Barnabas, was named Change Maker of the Year for her leading role in the creation of an employment academy offering training, work experience and real job opportunities to people who have been affected by homelessness. Uniquely, the academy is integrated into a not-for-profit members' club in the heart of Soho, London.

After many years operating as a residential hostel, in 2005 The House of St Barnabas found out that its accommodation no longer met the requisite regulations. This forced the charity to look back to its aims and then find the best way to move forward.

Sandra was appointed as CEO of The House of St Barnabas to establish the employment academy and club at its historic building at 1 Greek Street, Soho, offering a new vision for members' clubs, one with the drive for social change at its heart. A £500,000 loan from Charity Bank was used, alongside a capital raising campaign, for essential repairs to the building and for working capital.

Accepting the award Sandra Schembri said: “I am so very proud of this award, which has been possible by the magic of “We”. Working with our participants, our team and with the support of Charity Bank we are working towards our vision of breaking the cycle of homelessness through employment.”

David Evans, Chair of The House of St Barnabas, said: “Sandra’s contribution to both the club and our employment academy has been massive. The biggest testament to this is that 70% of employment academy graduates have moved into employment and 81% of them are still employed.

“Sandra has led a new chapter of The House of St Barnabas with warmth and determination. Her entrepreneurial spirit and vision has had a profound effect on both the London homelessness sector and the London members’ club scene. She has shown that it is possible to do good whilst enjoying yourself.”

The awards, now in their fifth year, were open to current Charity Bank borrowers with the winner selected by a panel of judges. There were two categories: Change Maker Award, to recognise exceptional individuals who are the driving force behind their organisations, and the Young Achiever Award to recognise the contribution of young people.

Patrick Crawford, Chief Executive of Charity Bank, said: “Sandra and all those shortlisted for this year’s awards deserve recognition for their passion and commitment to enriching lives. Our awards are an opportunity to pay tribute to all the amazing charities and social enterprises we have the honour to work with every day as they strive to create a better society for all.”