Transgender volunteer from Leamington up for national care award

Ben Whelan
Ben Whelan

A transgender volunteer from the Old Town area of Leamington has been shortlisted for a national care award.

Ben Whelan, 37, has worked with Making Space for three years, volunteering a day a week with the adult health and social care charity.

Giving up his time for the charity's Warwickshire Co-Production Service, he supports people with mental health issues at wellbeing hubs, regularly makes presentations and talks, is a regular contributor to the service's newsletter and gives advice on how mental health services can best meet the needs of the people who use them.

Ben, who came out as female to male transgender aged 23, also volunteers for Springfield Mind and hopes to one today gain paid employment in a mental health or social care role.

Liz Pfute, mental health co-production team leader, Making Space, said:

"When Ben began volunteering three years ago, he was suffering from severe depression and anxiety and had little confidence.

"He has had to deal with a lot of issues arising from being transgender as well as some wider mental health problems.

"Ben has really blossomed since he joined us and now volunteers for absolutely everything he’s offered.

"He is extremely knowledgeable about the local area and is a well-known face.

"People ask specifically for him once they've met him.

"Ben is a real asset to the team and never turns any opportunity down. No matter what life throws at him, he just gets up in the morning and comes and helps us.

" He would be very deserving winner of this Markel Third Sector Care Award."

Ben will find out if he has won at a gala dinner hosted by Dame Esther Rantzen on Friday 7th December at the London Marriott Hotel.

Warwickshire Co-Production Service is run by national charity Making Space and is commissioned by Warwickshire County Council's strategic commissioning team.

It gives people with mental health conditions the opportunity to shape the services they access, from counselling to psychiatry.

Holding regular forums and workshops, the programme puts people's experience and opinions at the heart of service improvement.

It can be contacted on 679207.