Winner! Organisational impact

Elmi Terjavjainen helps us every day to deliver our purpose of Ordinary lives, Extraordinary people. In her work as Co-production Manager, she always puts people we support at the centre of everything she does.

Since joining the organisation 10 years ago, Elmi has shown commitment and dedication of the highest calibre. She is a deserving winner of the Organisational impact award at Heroes Awards 2024, overseeing a huge increase in meaningful, effective co-production projects.

All award nominees were considered for this award, with the winner chosen by the Executive Team.  On selecting her, they said: “Elmi has had a profound effect on Achieve together, bringing co-production to life and keeping it live. She epitomises the values and ethos of the organisation.”

Unity and Campaign 4 Change

Elmi leads the Co-production Team who in turn support two groups of people with lived experience, Unity and Campaign 4 Change. Unity is a team of people supported by Achieve together, paid as a representative group to  work in partnership with other teams in the organisation on various  projects to ensure we are focused on the priorities of people supported. Campaign 4 Change is a self-advocacy group for people supported by Achieve together, or previously supported by us. Members campaign and raise awareness of different issues and initiatives both locally and nationally.

Supported by Elmi and her team, Unity representatives co-produced the Heroes Awards. They were involved in judging, planning the event, the event programme co-presenting awards. Other Unity projects include working with the Quality and Recruitment Teams. At the start of the year members of both groups created a podcast about voting.

Multiple nominations

Several people nominated Elmi for a Heroes Award. Unity and Campaign 4 Change member, Philippa Hoey wrote: “Elmi has given me the opportunity to be involved in Campaign 4 Change, Unity and co-production. She’s built up my self-confidence and self-esteem, and has had the faith and trust in me to help out at things like the Heroes Awards, interviews, presentations and picking up the award at a ceremony.

“Elmi also put me in charge of an art group, which I’d never done before, and I loved it. She’s really helped me to come out of my shell and has helped me to control my stuttering and anxiety. She is one in a million. I couldn’t have come this far without Elmi’s support.”

One of the co-presenters of the Organisational impact award at the Heroes Awards event was Co-chair of Unity, Mary Woodall. Mary is often supported by Elmi to travel to events and the two work closely together. It was a very emotional moment for Mary to read out the winner’s name. She had not been told it in advance!

Putting people we support first

In her nomination, Mary wrote about how Elmi helped her to become more independent in campaigning. She added: “I wouldn’t have been able to become a part of Learning disability England without her, because she helped me to apply and prepare for it. She also really helped push the #Mindyourlanguage campaign within and outside the company, and it’s been really successful.

“Since she joined Campaign 4 Change and Unity, Elmi has become a workaholic and has put people we support first. She’s very supportive and very hands on. Even when it’s not her working hours, she’s taken us to places and supported us.”

Mary also admired how Elmi kept the two groups going through covid. “It helped people because it kept everyone busy and connected. She’s a great laugh, she’s a great character and is highly experienced in her job.”

Co-production at the forefront

One of Elmi’s team members, Co-production and Employment Partner Stephen Brown, highlighted that Elmi has been instrumental in effectively bringing co-production to the forefront of the organisation’s priorities. “Supporting people we support to have a say and have a voice, Campaign 4 Change and Unity have gone from strength to strength because of Elmi,” he said. “Her creativity and technical know-how have allowed the visions of both groups to be realised in a manner that spreads their message in meaningful and thought-provoking ways.”

Elmi describes her win as ‘an amazing and touching surprise. She commented: “It is a heartfelt moment that I will never forget. None of what I do could be possible without the hard work, support and inspiration of my amazing team. This includes members of Unity and Campaign 4 Change, and my manager Michael Fullerton who leads with kindness, trust and fun.”