THE social and community award was presented to charity Healthy Living, which aims to reduce health inequalities in Blackburn and Darwen.

The organisation was set up in 2007 in a bid to break down social isolation and bring communities together in the more deprived areas of the borough.

And despite facing heavy cuts due to the financial climate, finance manager Shelagh Westbrook said the charity had been able to go from strength to strength.

She said the team of seven staff and 20 volunteers was looking forward to putting the award, presented by Accrington and Rossendale College’s vice principal, business and innovation, Sue Collinge, in a trophy cabinet.

She said: “We are a small charity in Blackburn, so to get a business award is amazing.

“We are growing the business side of the charity, so for us, to win is really significant.

“It recognises the volunteers, staff and all of the people in the community who help us achieve what we do.”

The organisation is now preparing to compete in the commissioning world, to help it continue to successfully compensate for the ‘extreme’ funding cuts from statutory partners.

Since it was created, more than 35,000 have benefited from the services provided by Healthy Living, which is based at the Bangor Street Community Centre.

Its three main aims are to promote health and well being, community engagement and intervention.

The organisation does that in several ways, including providing food co-ops offering affordable, fresh produce in areas where access and choice is limited.

Those at risk of fuel poverty are offered support through the Bill Busters service and low-cost gyms are also run at community venues.

The charity has already piloted programmes to fight cancer and works with people not in education, employment or training.

Shelagh said: “We approach things differently.

“We do not tell people what to do, we work with them and learn from them to make the changes they want in their communities.

“We are developing the fuel poverty side of the organisation as it is a huge part of the work we do.

“All our volunteers and workers will be delighted that we have won this award. We did not expect to win against all the businesses as we are a small charity, but we have.”