A Cwmbran woman who has been making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people for 20 years has won national recogniton.

At a ceremony in City Hall, Cardiff, Leigh Miller received a silver award in the 2017 social care “Oscars”, the Wales Care Awards.

The awards are organized by Care Forum Wales to recognize exceptional work in the care sector and Leigh’s award was in the category for Excellence in Learning and Mental Health Services, sponsored by Educ8 Ltd and Instead Senior Care.

The presentation ceremony, sponsored by Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs, was hosted by singer and presenter Wynne Evans, popularly known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV adverts.

Leigh, 58, Pontnewydd, Cwmbran, has been employed by Consensus for the past 13 years, having begun as a support worker at the West End Opportunities Centre in Magor. She progressed to become Senior Team Lead and Acting Deputy Manager, and four years ago was appointed manager of the West End and New Horizons Centre.

The West End Centre supports those with learning difficulties whilst people supported at the New Horizons Centre have multiple profound learning difficulties. Leigh heads a team of 15 and also works on-shift herself.

She was nominated for the award by Simon Kezic-Williams, Consensus’s head of strategy and operations for Wales, who spoke highly of her inspirational leadership in providing training, organising activities and ensuring that the support given is person-centred.

“She describes the two services as her extended family, and prides herself on broadening horizons, opening up opportunities for individuals and being the guiding force behind her team,” he said.

“She makes a positive difference everyday to the lives of those her team support.”

“A typical success story is that of one young woman whose parents are involved in amateur dramatics. The woman took an interest in their activities but was unable to join them because of anxieties around dark places and crowded spaces.

“The woman enjoyed watching films and Leigh’s team began working in a person centered manner to enable the lady to visit the cinema by walking with her to the cinema, initially entering only the reception area and later having a tea.

“Eventually after getting accustomed to the building she was able to enter the cinema itself and, six months later, began enjoying going to the theatre with her parents.

“Both she and her parents are delighted with her progress so far,” said Simon.

Leigh, whose daughter Zoe is also a support worker and person-centred champion with Consensus, said every possible effort was made to ensure that individuals they support could participate in activities which others took for granted.

“I love going home with the feeling I have made a difference to their lives,” she said.

In her spare time Leigh enjoys going to the cinema and on cruises with husband Gary, and they also visit their architect son Frazer, daughter in law Lauren and first grandchild Callum in Dubai as frequently as possible.

Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”