Michelle wins national award for contribution to her community

Michelle Baker with children Eli and Oscar

An inspirational Essex mum has landed a national award for her tireless contribution to her community.

Michelle Baker, 32, was named ‘Tenant of the Year’ at the Tpas awards after being nominated by Eastlight Community Homes.

Michelle’s work has included setting up her own charity, Wethersfield Community Activities, which helps local groups organise and run activities such as coffee mornings, parent and toddler sessions, and family fun days.  

The mum-of-two young sons – Eli, 6, and Oscar, 4 – who both have disabilities, also speaks at charity events for carers, promoting the skills and benefits carers bring to their workplaces.

Michelle, of Beazley End, near Braintree, has also taken part in fundraising and awareness raising work for charities including the Royal National Institute of Blind People. She and Eli, who is registered blind, recently raised around £1,000 for the charity, taking part in its Marathon Mates challenge and jointly running the 26.2 miles over the course of a month.  

On top of all her charitable work, Michelle takes an active involvement in the work of Eastlight. The community gateway organisation was created through a merger between two Essex housing providers, Colne Housing and Greenfields Community Housing, in July 2020.

The self-employed accountant scrutinised the merger to ensure it would benefit residents and has since helped to shape Eastlight’s services, including its repairs service, to order to enhance residents’ experiences.

Michelle, now chair of Eastlight’s resident-led Customer Influence Committee, said: “I’m thrilled to have been named ‘Tenant of the Year’ as I realise just how much that title means to the many involved residents doing fantastic work up and down the country.

“To be recognised by the Tpas judges is a huge honour and a real landmark moment for me. I’ve been through some big changes during the last few years, and I’ve come to appreciate my local community more than ever before. It feels wonderful to make a positive contribution, and to inspire people and watch them go on to make magic.”

Tpas is a not-for-profit organisation that champions the importance of landlords and residents working together to improve homes and services. Its ‘Tenant of the Year’ award celebrates an inspirational individual who has used their insight, time, energy, and positivity to make a huge impact on their neighbours and wider communities.

Michelle was shortlisted for the awards alongside incredible individuals from up and down the country who all work tirelessly on behalf of others living in their neighbourhoods.

At the virtual awards ceremony on Friday 8 October, Michelle was recognised for her devotion to a vast range of local voluntary and charitable activities, as well as her seemingly endless motivation to share her experiences in order to support others.

Emma Palmer, chief executive of Eastlight, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Michelle has received this award. It simply couldn’t be more deserved.

Michelle rises to every challenge thrown her way. She championed residents’ wishes for Eastlight to take a much more radical approach to green issues and drove changes to our business plan. When she discovered there were no mother and toddler groups meeting virtually in her area during lockdown, she immediately went about setting one up herself.

“She’s a real visionary who can be relied upon to get things done. We’re all very fortunate to work with her”