UCLan graduate awarded 'Employee of the Year' at Enterprise in Society Award

Dominic Hawke, 46, has been awarded the title of 'Employee of the Year' at the 2022 Selnet Enterprise in Society Awards at The Village Hotel, Blackpool.

After swapping a career as a logistics and transport manager for one supporting children, young people, vulnerable adults and families who need help with Child Action Northwest (CANW), Dominic was nominated for the award by his manager, Carl. He explained, “Dominic goes above and beyond with his participants on his caseload to make sure that they are supported throughout their journey. He is helpful, cheery and a team player and does not let his barrier of being partially sighted get in the way of work; from helping us move furniture within the office to picking up young people in a taxi ensuring they are supported with appointments.”

It all started when Dominic was looking for a career change after becoming disillusioned in his role as a logistics and transport manager. He initially wanted to train to be a teacher and went to find out more. “I’d been to a teaching fair in Manchester but the person I spoke to wasn’t very helpful. I didn’t give up.

I looked at options closer to home. I wasn’t sure what options were available to me as I didn’t have any a-levels, but a careers adviser I spoke to gave me some great advice and support.” Dominic signed up for an access course at Burnley College.

After completing the access course, he started the Foundation Degree in Children, Young People and their Services (a UCLan accreted course) before completing his degree on the BA (Hons) Children, Schools & Families (Top Up) at our Burnley Campus, where he achieved a first class honours in 2021.

After graduation, Dominic began a postgraduate course but was still working as a labourer, a position he held during his undergraduate studies. To find something more in line with his course he approached a friend at CANW to find out if he could volunteer with them.

He explained, “when I met with my manager Carl, he told me they actually had a part-time vacancy available which I was offered. Then a full-time position as an Invest in Youth Practitioner came up which I thought was an opportunity that I had to take as it was doing what I was studying for. So, I interrupted my studies.”

When talking about being awarded Employee of the Year, Dominic lights up. “I won the award for my work in this role. I support people aged 15-24 with things like getting back into education or finding employment. I’m not a job coach so I have a smaller caseload and can spend quality time supporting people. They are often people that have come out of care and don’t really have a support network.”

Sara Gaskell from the Skills Hub presenting Dominic's award at the Award Evening.
Sara Gaskell from the Skills Hub presenting Dominic's award at the Award Evening.

"I was thrilled. Selnet (Social Enterprise Lancashire Network) is made up from a wide range of great organisations, so it felt like a big deal to be acknowledged. I don’t really like compliments, but I am very proud of this award."

Dominic has no regrets about returning to education. He explains, “I love my job now! It’s really rewarding helping people take the first steps toward their future. The people I work with usually have a dream, but nobody has ever believed in them or supported them with practical advice and guidance. I know the impact that career adviser had on me when I was looking, and I am now able to guide other people in the right direction, whether that is education, employment, or support with their mental health.”

Dominic is visually impaired after his eyesight deteriorated due to Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) at the age of 21. He talked about the additional support he received at university, “the lecturers would print out the handouts in a larger font for me. I was given a laptop with specialist software to give me the tools I needed to do my work. I was offered a digital magnifier too but made the mistake of using an old one I had at home! I could have had more time on assignments and tests but tried to get by without them.

The tutors on the course were great. They really supported me and recognised when I was struggling and helped me seek the help I needed when I was going through some tough times at home.”

Since winning the award, Dominic has started a new job in Emotional Therapeutic Support (ETS) at CANW. Talking about the new role, “the company has been really supportive. They are allocating people to me that are local because I cannot drive, or people that are further away that prefer to engage with the charity over the telephone.”

When talking about the Children, Schools and Families course, Dominic talks about some of his highlights, “I loved learning about a wide range of issues young people can face. I’ve made some great friends on the course - I saw some of them at the weekend for a few drinks.”

Dominic has ambitions to complete the Masters in Professional Practice with Children & Young People but for now is enjoying a break from studying as he focuses on his new career. “I have a good work-life balance which allows me to be more involved with my daughter and her education. I’ll come back to studying when I’m ready but changing careers is one of the best things I’ve ever done!”

For anyone considering returning to study, Dominic had the following message, “Go for it! Believe in yourself because I know there are loads of people that could do this but either doesn’t think they can or don’t know where to start. I started in my forties – it’s never too late!”