Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 26 extraordinary people from across the UK are being recognised with the coveted British Citizen Award. One of them is Sophia Kaur Badhan from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. Due to the current government restrictions banning large gatherings indoors, the usual grand medal presentation ceremony at The Palace of Westminster is unable to take place. For the first time in its history, Sophia Kaur Badhan and the remaining 25 medalists will receive their BCA medals by courier, together with a video message from some of the Patrons and an invitation to the House of Lords at a date yet to be determined, when it is safe to do so.
The British Citizen Award (BCA), in association with One-Stop, is now in its fifth year and recognises exceptional people who positively impact their communities. Sophia is honoured with a BCAh for Services to Healthcare.
In 2016 whilst studying her GCSE’s Sophia was diagnosed with an eating disorder and was hospitalised for 7 months. Whilst she underwent an intensive treatment and rehabilitation programme Sophia struggled significantly with her mental health. On her return to school, she recognised the need to support educational establishments in helping to recognise, guide and support students at risk of similar diagnoses.
Sophia took this on as her personal responsibility and as a result she has since had great success in educating young people on how to spot the signs of a serious change in their mental health and how to reduce the stigma surrounding eating disorders. During the last 5 years she has organised, executed and designed a series of events to support this important initiative.
In 2018 Sophia led a school-wide campaign asking over 1,000 students to wear funky odd socks for the day in order to ‘Sock it to Eating Disorders’, raising money for the charity BEAT. Within school, Sophia was also a lead Anti-Bullying Ambassador, which means she led a team of 15 pupils and 2 teachers to improve responses to bullying in school.
In addition to her work within her own school, Sophia has been appointed a Diversity Lead for the mental health youthboard ‘Think4Brum’, which is part of Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust. Sophia has represented Think 4 Brum on a national level at the Royal College for Paediatric and Child Health Conference, sharing her experience and her insights to over 300 clinicians. This led to Sophia being a representative for young people at health-related events and meetings and she now sits on a number of advisory boards to support provision across the city and beyond.
Jonny McQuarrie, Managing Director from BCA partner One Stop, said:“Every time a new group of medalists are selected we are reminded of the great voluntary work that takes place across the nation. We serve many communities through our One Stop convenience stores and we know how vital this work is.
“The individuals that are being recognised reflect all that is good about community spirit. It is important, now more than ever, for us to be involved in the BCA awards and we are privileged to play a small part in helping them to be recognised. Our congratulations go to all 25 honourees”,
Messages of support were sent via video from One Stop, Experian, Specsavers, Places for People and Objective HR who have all continued to support the BCA throughout the pandemic. Co-Founder of The British Citizen Award, Mike Faulkner said: “Whilst it is bitterly disappointing not be able to present these people with their medals in person, we are determined to recognise them for their exceptional endeavours. Thanks to our sponsors, supporters and patrons they will still have the full British Citizen Award experience when we can safely gather indoors in larger numbers.
“The 26 medalists’ commitment to others and to making society better for everyone, was the driving force for us to unite them with their medals at the earliest opportunity. Whilst some recognition programmes are regarded as elitist, The BCA remains accessible to everyone who has not been recognised by the Crown for their selfless endeavours and welcomes nominations year-round. By highlighting the commitment of people like Sophia we aim to make positive impact in the community the norm rather than the exception”.
The British Citizen Award was established in 2015, and recognises true community heroes who would otherwise likely be overlooked. Dubbed ‘The People’s Honours’, many recipients have subsequently been selected to receive a Queen’s Honour after their endeavours have been recognised with a BCA.
Each Medal of Honour bears the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are presented to only a small number of exceptional individuals twice yearly. The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavor and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.