Charity boss recognised for her work supporting older people in the pandemic

The CEO of a valleys-based charity has been shortlisted for a national Chwarae Teg Womenspire Award 2021.

Rachel Rowlands was announced as a finalist in the ‘Woman in Health and Care’ category. This new award was established to recognise women who have set a shining example across any aspect of health or care, from medical and support staff to training and educational roles.

Womenspire recognises women’s achievements in every aspect of life, from personal achievements to outstanding contribution, and showcases the remarkable accomplishments of women across Wales, to inspire future generations. The award ceremony is taking place on Thursday 30th September and will once again be supported by ITV Wales.

Rachel Rowlands has been recognised for her work with Age Connects Morgannwg (ACM), a charity, who for more than 40 years, have been helping and supporting older people through some of the most difficult times in their life.  During this time, many thousands of people have found companionship, laughter, new interests and a listening ear in the staff and volunteers who are at the heart of this charity.

During the pandemic Rachael has taken a lead role in the region’s Test Trace Protect programme by bringing together local organisations to create and deliver support for people to self-isolate safely. Rachel also led on the development of a ‘Vaxi-Taxi’ Service for people who were struggling to find transport to their vaccination appointment. This service formed part of Age Connects Morgannwg’s volunteer led response to the pandemic including shopping, prescription collection and telephone befriending.

On receiving news of the nomination, Rachel commented “I am truly overwhelmed to have been nominated for this award and to have been shortlisted as a Finalist. I’m lucky enough to work alongside amazing women who do a remarkable job every day in very challenging circumstances. They inspire me with their dedication, tenacity, compassion and determination to make a difference to people’s lives. I’d like to thank my colleagues for nominating me and the Womenspire panellists for shortlisting me, this means a great deal to me personally and professionally”.

Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg, said: “Womenspire is an awards ceremony like no other, recognising incredible women, whether it be personal achievement or an outstanding contribution. Rachel’s place as a Womenspire finalist reflects her ability to bring people and communities together. She makes a real difference to so many people’s lives – going above and beyond during the pandemic to make sure that the potentially vulnerable had access to support. She works with empathy and understanding and at Age Connects Morgannwg has created a very positive workplace culture – always encouraging others to reach their potential too.”

The nomination comes as a timely boost for everyone at Age Connects Morgannwg who continue to work tirelessly through the pandemic. As many mainstream charitable services were suspended in 2020, Rachel worked with her team to create new ways of supporting health and social care services at community hospitals and the field hospital Ysbyty’r Seren.

The Keeping in Touch Team used technology to keep patients connected with their families whilst visiting wasn’t permitted and provided a lifeline of communication until they returned home or visiting resumed. Despite restrictions on the charity’s ‘normal’ services their teams still supported more than 5000 older people and raised over £228,000 in welfare entitlements to help older people and their carers make ends meet.