A Middlesbrough mum-of- four has received a Teesside Hero Award in recognition of her voluntary work supporting parents who have children with disabilities.
Kerrie Morrison recently stepped down from her role as chairperson of Parents 4 Change, having been the driving force of a Middlesbrough organisation set up to act as a unified voice for those who care for children aged 0-25 with disabilities or additional needs.
Despite having her own family to look after, Kerrie was praised for her “selfless” work in supporting other parents faced with the challenges of caring for children with disabilities.
She has been an active member of Parents 4 Change since its launch nearly nine years ago and had chaired the group for the past four years – but now she is taking a less central role in the organisation.
Kerrie, who lives in Netherfields, has an 18-year- old son, Warren, with autism, together with siblings Owen, 20, Kathryn, 16 and Cara, nine.
Having stepped down “very reluctantly” to take care of her family, she insisted: “Parents 4 Change and everyone involved in it will always remain close to my heart.
There is a need for it, it makes a difference to people’s lives and there’d be a huge hole without it. It’s like a big family with everyone supporting each other.
“It’s making a difference for people who have children with disabilities, whether that be providing them with information about where they can get help, helping to change the system itself or just giving each other moral support. It’s good to talk to people with the same day-to- day challenges you have.
“Help and support is there but often parents don’t know about it and don’t know who to ask. That’s where Parents 4 Change comes in.”
The group also ensures the views of parents are heard in battling to change the system and improve the lot for those who have children with disabilities when dealing with the local authority, the health service and other organisations.
“Everyone is welcome to come to our events and actively participate in helping to change things for the better,” added Kerrie.
She received her Teesside Hero award from charitable movement, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
The surprise presentation of a trophy and meal voucher for Mohujo’s Mexican restaurant was made by Steve Gibson’s PA Tracey Flanagan of Bulkhaul, who along with Middlesbrough FC are among more than 40 patrons of the Philanthropic Foundation.
She also received £1,000 for Teesside good causes of her choice, which she plans to share between Saltersgill-based Friends of Gleneagles (FROGS), who support children with disabilities, and the Cleveland Unit at James Cook University Hospital.
After receiving her award, Kerrie said: “It’s so humbling and completely unexpected.
I’ve never won anything before so I’m overwhelmed. But the truth is that it was never just me, there have always been others who’ve supported the group and put the work in too.
“It’s always been about wanting to make sure that families don’t face some of the challenges I faced before Parents 4 Change existed. Even if just one person has got something from the group then it’s been worthwhile.
- To nominate an unsung community champion for a Teesside Hero Award, send up to 500 words to email@example.com