Gillian Marshall

Gill recognises that dignity is not about legislation or lip service; it is about promoting a basic human right, which sometimes involves challenging attitudes and changing behaviours.

Already a Dignity Champion, Gill is passionate about putting people in control of their lives. She noticed the difficulties experienced by people with hearing and speech impairments when contacting the emergency services. As they cannot hear or communicate the spoken word, Gill worked with service users and experts to create an emergency mobile phone texting service.

Gill's programme has not been without challenges. There was reluctance to try new technology, especially from those used to relying on the help of others. Gill has overcome this obstacle by using the appropriate methods for them and supporting the people she works with to take control of their lives.

The project brought about a rethink from the emergency services in relation to responding to the needs of vulnerable people. Gill's knowledge and experience was instrumental in breaking down existing barriers and developing the system.

Praise from those who have benefited from the project is high. One user said "Gill has given me the confidence to look for a job and make a better future for my family", another that "Gill is very patient, we could not do without her".

The emergency texting service is no longer a small, local project but part of the mainstream service provision aimed at making a difference to people's lives. Gill has gone the extra mile to improve the lives of many people by making it easier for them to communicate their needs.