Photograph of Sally Buke with her awardHuge congratulations to Sally Burke, who received the prestigious Health Campaigner award at the Sheila McKechnie Awards last night (24 March 2017).

Sally was nominated by our regional campaign officer Janine Wigmore - in recognition of Sally’s high profile and successful Get Maisie Home campaign to re-establish a dedicated mental health inpatient service in Hull, and to set up a specialist crisis community team. 

Sally started the campaign after her daughter Maisie, an autistic teenager, had to spend months in a mental health unit in Manchester – a 200 mile round trip for her family to see her. The reason for this long journey was that there was no unit closer to home, after a unit in Hull closed down in 2013. 

We supported the campaign and are delighted Sally and Maisie’s hard work has been recognised on the national stage. 

Sally said: "I was thrilled to be nominated and attend such a prestigious awards ceremony and absolutely speechless that I have won!  I couldn't have done this without the support of my family, friends and The National Autistic Society who have supported me and the campaign from the beginning.  

All I have wanted to do is raise awareness that children with mental health issues in the Hull and East Yorkshire area were forgotten about and treated unfairly compared to children in other parts of the country or local children with physical illness. All children regardless of their illness or post code should receive excellent care. 

“I'm really looking forward to working with the SMK Foundation experts in the future. This award is dedicated to Maisie and other children in similar circumstances" 

Janine Wigmore said: “Everyone at The National Autistic Society is delighted that Sally won this prestigious award.

“This is testament to Sally and Maisie’s tireless campaigning, which drew national attention to the lack of local support for children on the autism spectrum with complex mental health problems. 

“Far too many children, like Maisie, have had to travel long distances to access the mental health support they need. Staying in unfamiliar environments, away from their families and loved ones, is really difficult for anyone but can be particularly hard for autistic children who often rely on routine to manage anxieties.

“Thanks to Sally and Maisie, and everyone who supported their campaign, a much needed 24/7 crisis service is now in operation and a new mental health unit is set to open too. This will make a huge difference to children and young people across the region for many years to come.”