THE FOUNDER and director of an addiction recovery programme launched in Bournemouth has been shortlisted for a prize at the UK’s largest diversity awards.

Managing Director at Steps to Active Recovery, or STAR, Emma Heath from Bournemouth has made the final six nominees for the ITV Diversity Awards - due to take place in September - for the ‘positive role model for Faith, Race and Religion’.

There have been over 60,000 votes and nominations and Emma is through to the final stage in her category, alongside other category shortlisted people such as Marcus Rashford.

In addition to this, Emma has also been presented with an award by The High Sheriff of Dorset, Mr George Streatfeild in recognition of “great and valuable services to the community”.

Having run for the last seven years, the recovery course from addiction now operates in 20 different churches across Dorset and further afield.

Emma told the Echo: “I am completely shocked to be awarded and nominated for this yet it’s so nice to see that addiction work is being recognised within the fantastic charities I get the privilege of being involved with.

“I have just set up a national charity called STAR - Steps to Active Recovery and to use my former horrendous time when I was gripped by addiction 14 years ago and to now help others is such a privilege. 

 “To be nominated and now shortlisted for these prestigious national awards is an honour and I am so overwhelmed with the support and encouragement from people all over the UK who have voted for me. Having battled through addiction, many times not thinking I would survive, I am so grateful today to be able to use my battles into blessings and to help other people who are going through struggles and pain. I never imagined I would survive, let alone be doing what I do today."

The awards take place on Friday, September 17 2021 at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s continue to gain endorsements from high profile figures such as Sir Lenny Henry CBE and Graham Norton.

Activist Katie Piper, Presenters Alex Brooker & Ade Adepitan MBE and Emmerdale star Ash Palmisciano were on this year’s judging panel, dedicating their time to help choose the highly anticipated shortlist.

Previous winners include actor Warwick Davis, men’s mental health charity Andys Man Club and reformed breast cancer survivor Codilia Gapare.

Emma Heath said:"After 17 years of battling alcoholism and eating disorders I despised myself and had many times where I wanted to give up, yet 12 years ago things took a dramatic and miraculous positive turn. Through reconnecting with my faith and wonderful people supporting and encouraging me, life has completely transformed and now I get the privilege of being able to give back what has been so freely given to me through helping people that are struggling in addiction, just as I once did. I am so grateful for my personal story of recovery from addiction to freedom through faith, and I now know where my hope lies!

"Within the last 12 years I have been blessed to introduce and lead ground breaking recovery work in my home town of Bournemouth and nationally. I love to see churches and organisations working together to bring the Recovery Course and other Christian approaches into the heart of the community and to look at addiction without the fear and stigma that so often goes hand in hand.

"My drive and passion comes from my own lived experience knowing that there is hope, having never intended to work in the addiction field, yet I now get to propel Christian addiction work all over the country, having openly shared my story in national newspapers, radio, a 15 session TV series on TBN UK and spoken at conferences and events. This amazes me as I remember a time when anxiety gripped me and I couldn’t be in a room with more than two people without fear of panic attacks.

"I believe in being obedient to God’s calling and have stepped out to pursue this vision, making a dream into a reality, with the ultimate aim to help change a culture around addiction."

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