Touchstone is delighted to announce that it has taken one of three top honours at this year’s Charity Awards for its outstanding response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The Charity Awards is the longest-running and most prestigious awards scheme in the charity sector, and this year the organisers decided to open up a special new category specifically to recognise the fantastic contribution of the charity sector in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Touchstone won the Rathbones Covid-19 Response Award for the way it adapted its frontline service delivery during 2020, setting up a foodbank as a Trojan horse to provide mental health and wellbeing support.

The Leeds-based charity realised that people could not access its mental health services without their basic needs being met first, so staff started collecting food donations from colleagues and family members to give out emergency food parcels.  In days this had turned into a full-blown foodbank and mental health support service and within four weeks the Touchstone Loves Food (TLF) programme was feeding 200 people each week.

By the end of the 50th week, TLF had delivered 236,221 meals to 1,148 households. Leeds City Council provided 20 drivers to support delivery throughout the period.

As well as delivering over 400 hours of intensive mental health one-to-one telephone support, the team gave support and information to over 4,000 contacts and made around 12,000 check-in welfare calls. They collected data on all beneficiaries and have fed back the themes emerging to local authority commissioners.

Despite never having fundraised before, the charity’s staff developed a fundraising campaign which raised over £200,000 from public, corporate and lottery donors. This enabled Touchstone to employ five staff to keep TLF going until the end of October 2021.

Touchstone’s chief executive, Alison Lowe, said: “TLF became our Trojan horse to mental health and wellbeing support to communities too distracted by hunger, poverty and distress to be able to think about looking after themselves.”

Alongside two other winners of the Rathbones Covid-19 Response Awards, 10 Charity Awards winners and the recipient of the Daniel Phelan Award for Outstanding Achievement, Touchstone was presented with its trophy in an online ceremony broadcast live on Thursday 10 June, hosted by writer, comedian and political commentator Ayesha Hazarika.

The Covid-19 Response Awards were chosen from more than 300 entries by a team of editorial staff and management at Civil Society Media, organisers of the annual Charity Awards.

Matt Nolan, chief executive of Civil Society Media, congratulated Touchstone on winning the highly-coveted award.  He said:

“For 21 years the Charity Awards have been recognising and celebrating the fantastic work that large and small charities do up and down the UK every day of the week.

“After putting the awards programme on ice last year while we waited to see how the pandemic played out, we felt the time was right again to recognise charities and celebrate their great work. Touchstone is an outstanding example of the ingenuity and commitment of charities in a time of crisis, and thoroughly deserves this award.”

Andy Pitt, head of charities – London, at Overall Awards Partner Rathbone Investment Management, said:

“The Charity Awards celebrate leadership, good governance, innovation and excellence. As investment managers we do everything we can to support the work that the sector does and promoting best practice is an important part of our relationship with charities.”

The past year has brought huge challenges for the charity sector, but it has also highlighted the importance of its contribution, without which people around the world would be significantly weakened. We are delighted to support these awards and to honour the brilliant work of UK charities large and small.”

Alison Lowe added:

“Touchstone is a community mental health and wellbeing charity and during the Covid-19 pandemic this passion to support the people and communities we serve became a movement of love and giving back.  Our staff and volunteers have been outstanding; they gave up their weekends, delivered food in the snow and ice, and listened to stories of real pain and hardship, whilst also carrying their own mental health and other struggles through this unprecedented pandemic. There were many heroes in 2020, and I am proud to say that Touchstone’s heroes also played their part.”

For more details about the Charity Awards, see or contact Tania Mason on

For more details about Touchstone, please contact: Fran Tredget, Communications Officer on 0113 2718277 or

The Shortlist and Winners 2021




International: The Just a Drop Appeal

Supporting other charities: London Funders

Frontline service delivery: Touchstone


Arts, Culture and Heritage


Jerwood Arts

New Writing North

Campaigning and Advocacy

WINNER: Safe Passage

Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership

CARE International UK

Children and Youth

WINNER: Friends Families and Travellers

Aberlour Child Care Trust




The Children’s Trust

Education and Training

WINNER: Stephens and George Centenary Charitable Trust

Breaking Barriers


Environment and Conservation

WINNER: Trees for Cities

Grantmaking and Funding

WINNER: Five Talents UK

The Fore

Healthcare and Medical Research

WINNER: SeeAbility

Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust

The Lewis Foundation

International Aid and Development

WINNER: Excellent Development

Conciliation Resources

Theatre for a Change

Social Care, Advice and Support

WINNER: Suffolk Family Carers

The Bike Project