Be Proud Awards honours Manchester’s unsung heroes in glittering return to the city

  • Monday 11 March 2024

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Climate activists, creative innovators and equality and diversity champions make up just a few of Manchester’s unsung community heroes celebrated at the annual Be Proud Awards.

Manchester City Council invites residents across the city to submit nominations to recognise the extraordinary everyday Mancunians who are making a life-changing difference to thousands through their volunteering efforts and developing community hubs.
The coveted awards are split into ten categories including creating safer neighbourhoods; increasing skills and employment and supporting health and wellbeing.

Be Proud Awards also hands out the illustrious Pride of Manchester Awards.  This year’s winner is Shakar Hussain, Chair of Rainbow Surprise.

After running his charity for 13 years, alongside his wife Shabnam, Shakar has been instrumental in ensuring his community continues to thrive amid the cost-of-living crisis. He provides regular food drives, community fridges and a local shop for everyone to access, while also going the extra mile to collect people himself to attend events organised by Rainbow Surprise.

Since experiencing a period of homelessness himself, Shakar knows firsthand what it means to be in need and how the small, everyday contributions of a few can be life changing. The charity brings barbers in to cut children's hair for free at the beginning of term and helps with new school uniforms for local pupils.

During the pandemic, when millions were struggling to afford essentials, Shakar and his team of dedicated volunteers provided hundreds with food parcels and continue to supply them to the community, never turning away anyone from their foodbank. The team are lauded for working even throughout Christmas break to ensure that others in need get their own Christmas get together.

Through determination, collaboration and kindness, Rainbow Surprise exemplifies what the Be Proud Awards is about and is recognised has a steadfast pillar of support that makes up the fabric of the community.

Find out more about the categories.


This year’s winners were: 


Pride of Manchester - Sponsored by Manchester Evening News 

Shakar Hussain – Chair of Rainbow Surprise


Taking Neighbourhood Climate Action - sponsored by Redgate 

Shaeda Aziz -Shaeda’s Project: Let’s Go Green (Winner) 

Age Friendly Hulme and Moss Side

The Moss Side Repair Café


Helping to Tackle Poverty - sponsored by One Manchester 

Shakar Hussain - Rainbow Surprise (Winner)

Michelle Edwards

Miles Platting Social Supermarket


Increasing Skills and Employment Choices - sponsored by Southway Housing Trust 

Cup and Cake Café (Winner)

Healthy Me Healthy Communities

Venture Arts


Creating Safer Neighbourhoods - sponsored by Wythenshawe Forum 

Jeannine Burke (Winner)

Old Moat Youth Outreach Project

Withington Baths


Supporting Health and Wellbeing - sponsored by MCRActive 

Angels United (Winner) 

Gail Spelman

Happy Some Days


Promoting Equality and Diversity - sponsored by Wythenshawe Community Housing Group 

The Space Group (Winner)

Women’s Voices

Olympias Music Foundation


Creating Greener and Cleaner Neighbourhoods - sponsored by Biffa 

Mersey Bank Garden Group (Winner)

Sustainable Communities Hulme

Mirfield Road Community Gardens


Creativity in Neighbourhoods - sponsored by Rowlinson Construction Ltd 

Lubna Tahir (Winner)

Still Parents


Business in the Community – Sponsored by MK Illuminations 

The Pavillion Alexandra Park

Lentils and Lather

Purpose Coffee Company


The finalists were invited to an awards ceremony at the Mercure Hotel on Friday 8 March.  


Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods, said: “Every year, it’s an honour and a privilege to welcome back the Be Proud Awards which recognise the tireless work and dedication so many Mancunians pour into their community groups, voluntary efforts and neighbourhoods that continue to make our brilliant city even better.

“These unsung heroes who have been honoured represent through and through what Manchester stands for: fairness, diversity and treating each other as true neighbours.

“I want to offer my congratulations to the fantastic winners who took away an award and to all the groups who received a nomination –  every effort made in our city to make it bigger and better for everyone means that we are all winners tonight.”


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