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.
Their father had a connection with a distillery in Northern Ireland and using this link 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 give back to communities struggling through the pandemic.
With time frames being tight and 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.
This award means the world to us – to be recognised in our first year as young Rotarians (Rotaractors) is fantastic.“
Sales have allowed them to give away over 10,000 pieces of PPE to frontline workers across the UK and Ireland. They also provide PPE to parts of Spain, France and even as far away as Peru. SanHanzUK donates 20% of proceeds to food banks across the country. With the profits the sisters invested in mask manufacturing capabilities and now supply full “COVID protection packs”.
The sisters, who are both Rotaractors, also distribute products free of charge to charities, even designing labels for them and letting them sell them after normal methods of fundraising have been affected by COVID restrictions. Recent beneficiaries have included the RNLI, Nightsafe (a homeless charity), Trussell Trust foodbanks and Myton Hospice. They are also currently seeing what they can do to provide PPE to help the worsening coronavirus crisis in India as their mother is Punjabi.
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.”
Seanna and Ciara’s initiative exemplifies just what Rotaract and Rotary is all about.”
The sisters received a trophy, certificate and £300 to go towards their chosen project or charity from Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. They were presented with their Award at a Virtual Rotary Young Citizen Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC TV Presenter Ellie Crisell.
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.”