Sisters, Seanna and Ciara Hamill, aged 18 and 20, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, who took action to help key workers and their community during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been recognised with a Rotary Young Citizen Award 2021.
When the pandemic hit, their mother who is a senior healthcare professional with a BAME background, faced huge difficulties accessing personal protective equipment (PPE) despite having a frontline role, causing great stress both to herself and her family. Faced with this, Seanna and Ciara decided to do something about it.
The two sisters set up SanHanzUK, a social enterprise community interest company (CIC) to manufacture hand sanitiser, with a mission to get sanitiser to the people who most needed it and also to support communities struggling through the pandemic.
With the need to get sanitiser manufactured as quickly as possible, SanHanzUK was completely self-funded with Seanna and Ciara initially setting up pop-up stalls to sell their products.
Sales have allowed them to give away over 10,000 pieces of PPE to frontline workers across the UK & Ireland. They also provide PPE to parts of Spain, France and even as far away as Peru.
SanHanzUK donates 20% of proceeds to foodbanks across the country, with other profits re-invested in mask manufacturing capabilities to supply full COVID protection packs.
The sisters, who are both Rotaractors (young members of the Rotary Club), also distribute products free of charge to charities. Recent beneficiaries have included the RNLI, Nightsafe (a homeless charity for young people), Trussell Trust foodbanks and Myton Hospice. They are currently reviewing how they can provide PPE to help the worsening coronavirus crisis in India.
Their work so far has been recognised by the likes of Theo Paphitis of Dragons Den, becoming the youngest winners of his Small Business Competition. They have won a national billboard advertising campaign for acts of kindness. Impressively, the sisters became the youngest in the UK on the Social Enterprise Futures 2020 Roll of Honour. Their product has also been used in a recent TV comedy, “Lockdown”.
The Rotary Club of Rotary Social Innovation was so impressed by Seanna and Ciara that it nominated them for a Rotary Young Citizen Award 2021.
Seanna and Ciara said,
“This award means the world to us – to be recognised in our first year as young Rotarians (Rotaractors) is fantastic, without the help and guidance from fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors, we could never have had the level of amplification of our social impact. Having now gifted over 10,000 pieces of PPE we are warmed to the fact that one of those pieces may have saved a family from a terrible outcome – and in saying that, Rotary has helped us make that happen.”
Virtual Award Ceremony
The sisters received a trophy, certificate and £300 towards their chosen project or charity from Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, at a Virtual Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC TV Presenter, Ellie Crisell, on Saturday, 22nd May 2021.
The President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Tom Griffin said,
“Their initiative exemplifies just what Rotaract (and Rotary) is all about. They identified a pressing need and found an innovative way of addressing it, then went on to broaden the benefits of their success to meet others’ needs thrown up by the COVID pandemic. They have shown what can be done.”