Mum moved to ‘crime hotspot’ village and decided to change things

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A Merseyside mum dedicated almost 20 years to making her hometown a place where people can be 'proud to live.'

Stephanie Tomlinson, from Stockbridge Village, has worked to tackle crime in the area for nearly two decades while also being a full-time carer to her son Elliot.

The 55-year-old was raised in the village, formerly known as Cantril Farm, before moving to London for work.

In the past Cantril Farm has been described as ' one of the worst estates in Europe ' in a TV show which followed TV star Craig Charles’ early life in the area.

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The estate was infamous for the scale of crime and unemployment in the 19070s and 80s but thanks to dedicated volunteers like Stephanie, it's on the up.

When Stephanie returned to Stockbridge Village in 2003, she found the area had become a ‘hotspot for anti-social behaviour and crime.’

She is now being honoured for her work by being named Tenant of the Year at this year’s Northern Housing Awards.

Stephanie Tomlinson, 55, from Stockbridge Village has been named Tenant of the Year at this years Northern Housing Awards

Stephanie said: "I’m excited and privileged to be tenant of the year. I feel very shocked, delighted and honoured to have been put forward.

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"What I like about being involved in the community is meeting new people, taking on new challenges and identifying areas of the community that need a bit of extra support."

Since her return Stephanie has been heavily involved in community work and even started a community group that worked with police to tackle crime.

The Catalyst community group teamed up with Merseyside Police on an award-winning project called ‘Weed and Seed’ that helped make the area safer.

Catalyst also played a key role in the £12 million regeneration project that saw a new school leisure centre, playpark and supermarket built.

Later, Catalyst transformed into SCEF (Stockbridge Community Engagement Forum) which Stephanie now chairs, continuing to drive community improvements.

However she is also involved in 17 community groups and countless projects that have been key to the regeneration of Stockbridge Village.

John Crawford, leader of the local St Jude’s Church, said: "Steph has always gone more than the extra mile for the whole community for many years.

"She has helped me connect with the community and is a credit to Stockbridge."

Over the past year Stephanie has continued to work in the community despite the pandemic putting a stop to some ventures.

She has spend her time volunteering at her local food bank and making PPE for those on the frontline.

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Stephanie has also worked with ForHousing’s team to help the landlord stay connected to tenants during the various lockdowns.

Director of Neighbourhoods at ForHousing, Martyn Hague said: "We couldn’t be prouder of Steph. We believe in making more things possible for more people, and Steph embodies that each and every day.

"She has dedicated herself to improving the lives of others and she fully deserves to be recognised for the work she has done."