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Living Streets' Walking Champion – Charles Maher Award

Living Streets’ Charles Maher Award recognises an individual, group or organisation that is campaigning to get more people walking in their area. 

Our award commemorates a long-standing member and campaigner Charles Maher who left a significant legacy to the charity. Over the years we have celebrated the impact and creativity that campaigners had on their local streets. 

Our recent award winners include: 

2023: Joint Winners Muslimah Sports Association and Slow Ways

Muslimah Sports Association supports the mental and physical health of like-minded women where they are free to participate in sports without compromising their religious or cultural beliefs. They started ten years ago as a small group of basketball players and now they provide a range of projects. Women in their community often feel unsafe walking alone, so they ran a project organising photography walks as a community activity. These walks help women to get active, share skills, engage with the environment and connect with other women from their communities.  

Dan is the founder of Slow Ways, an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting Great Britain’s towns, cities, and villages. He mobilised 700 volunteers during the spring 2020 lockdown, creating a unique Slow Ways map in the process. There are over 8,000 Slow Ways stretching for over 120,000 kms. The map is free to encourage people to walk more often, further and for more purposes.      

three women in hijabs are standing together, the woman in the middle is holding a wooden plaque. A man is standing on the right of the woman and is also holding a wooden plaque.

Shafia Ahad, Salma Quaium, Yashmin Harun BEM from Muslimah Association and Dan Raven Ellison from Slow Ways.

“I was really surprised and honoured to receive this award because we don't always realise the impact that we're making. In the community we have women who are too scared to come out of the house by themselves. “Through this walking photography project, they didn’t just learn a new skill; they grew in confidence too. We saw the women bloom just like the flowers they photographed.” 

Yashmin Harun (Chair of Muslimah Sports Association) from Redbridge 

“For me walking gives joy, hope and imagination, and improves our mental well-being, mental and physical health, productivity and creativity. I think of Slow Ways as a walking network that makes it easier for people to walk from one place to another.  

“This award not only celebrates my work with Slow Ways but it also acknowledges all the thousands of volunteers who have contributed their time and energy to this work.” 

Dan Raven Ellison from Slow Ways

2022: Nasreen Hanif from Leeds 

Nasreen, a volunteer with Leeds Older People's Forum, campaigned for two years to engage the council on improving pedestrian accessibility in her area of north Leeds and ensure local pedestrians' voices were heard. 

Thanks to her skilled advocacy some crossings have already been adapted to give more time for people to cross, with further pledges from the council for more assessments and better consultation with local communities. 

Nasreen Hanif is standing by a pedestrian crossing holding a wooden plaque

“Change happens from grass roots. It is up to each person to make a small contribution to real change; not with the expectation that they will achieve results, but with the understanding that everything they do is a step towards that. I’m grateful to everyone who has helped us make a difference where we live and encourage others to take action in their communities". 

Mustafa Desai is standing with mountains behind him wearing a blue hat, top and bag

2021: Mustafa Desai, Blackburn with Darwen councillor 

Mustafa Desai was nominated for setting up the Take A Hike  programme, which uses walking to tackle physical and mental health challenges, while promoting social inclusion, social diversity and supporting people to connect with the great outdoors. 

"It’s great that something so positive has come from the awful circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. Being part of this group has been fantastic for the wellbeing of all its members and I recommend the activity to all as a simple but effective way to improve physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing." 

2020: Pauline Johnston from Levenshulme, Manchester  

Pauline Johnston is recognised for her involvement in helping Levenshulme develop the first community led ‘Filtered Neighbourhood’ for the Bee Network, Cycling and Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman’s active travel plan for Greater Manchester. Filtered neighbourhoods use modal filters like bollards or planters to let pedestrians and cycles through, but block access to cars. 

Pauline Johnston is standing in the middle of two women holding a wooden plaque

“The desire for cleaner air and safer streets has brought the community together as we aim to improve our quality of life – and it will be fulfilling when we see the results of the changes planned soon and get more people to walk and cycle”. 

Brenda Puech is standing next to a man and they are both holding a certificate with her name on

2019: Brenda Puech from Hackney, London  

Brenda Puech is recognised for transforming a parking space outside her home into a mini park - or ‘parklet’ - creating a game-changing innovative use of street space which was immensely popular and eventually led to parklet permits being made legal in her borough. 

When Brenda created the parklet, the local council asked her to remove it. However, Brenda ensured the parklet received widespread attention on social media and in the news. Brenda launched a petition calling for the parklet to remain; it received over 1,000 signatures, helping the council to recognise the popularity of the idea and how it could support its own policies.   

2018: Alison Blamire, Edinburgh 

Architect and campaigner Alison Blamire was honoured for her amazing work with the Causey Development Trust in Edinburgh.  

The Causey was an urban realm project next to Arcade Architects’ old offices in West Cross causeway. Her original idea involved a temporary project on the site, transforming a barren three-way road junction over one weekend into a tropical paradise. It won an Architects’ Journal small projects award in 2008. As a result, the Causey Development Trust was set up with a view to making this a permanent feature, an exemplar of this type of work, acknowledging the area’s history and promoting community engagement, health, cycling and walking – a place for people, not cars. Sadly Alison passed away in 2017 and her award was collected by her husband, Alistair.  

2017: Morag Rose, Loiterers Resistance Movement 

The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) is a Manchester based collective of artists, activists and urban wanderers interested in psychogeography, public space and the hidden stories of the city. 

Morag Rose has been leading the Loiterers Resistance Movement and championing walking on the streets of Manchester and elsewhere for over 10 years. She is passionate about walking in the city and encouraging people to explore, enjoy and connect with their streets.  

“I would like to thank everyone who has come wandering with The LRM over the years. I believe the streets belong to everyone and walking together is a great way to explore, connect with, and make new maps of Manchester.”