Date posted: April 29, 2022

Extern is celebrating its life-changing work in supporting people who are homeless or tackling problem drug and alcohol use with a ‘hat-trick’ of wins at this year’s NI Health and Social Care Awards 2022

Extern, which supports over 20,000 people across the island of Ireland every year through a range of innovative services, took home the prizes for Social Worker of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Supported Living Service of the Year at the prestigious awards, which recognise and celebrate the hard work and dedication of staff across the health and social care sector in Northern Ireland. 

Winner of the Volunteer of the Year award Neil Potter spoke movingly of how he has used his own past experiences with problem drug use to support others as a member of Extern’s Needle & Syringe Exchange team. Based in Belfast city centre, the service offers advice, information and support to help reduce risk of harm from issues associated with injecting drug use. 

Danielle Finlay’s role as a frontline worker with Extern’s Multi-Disciplinary Homeless Support Team, supporting people with a range of often complex needs, saw her lift the award for Social Worker of the Year as the only representative of the Voluntary sector among the nominees. 

Externs Ormeau Centre, Supported Living of the Year

And as one of Extern’s longest running services, the Ormeau Centre for the homeless was named Supported Living Service of the Year. The Belfast-based hostel continued to provide uninterrupted frontline support for people facing homelessness throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that the most vulnerable were able to access vital services in a safe environment. 

Danny McQuillan, CEO of Extern, said: “On behalf of everyone at Extern, I am so proud of our fantastic winners and shortlisted candidates at this year’s NI Health and Social Care awards. They are a shining example of our organisation’s dedicated and compassionate teams of staff and volunteers who every day make a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities. 

“For our organisation to be named as winners in three of the top categories at this event is proof of how the Voluntary sector plays a crucial role in helping to transform lives every single day alongside our colleagues across the statutory services.” 

He added: “Thank you to the judges and to the organisers of these fantastic awards which recognise the often-unsung heroes who are helping to make life better for people every single day.”