Woman who works to tackle Sunderland's health inequalities is championed by the city's university
A woman whose own experiences as a youngster have driven her to make life better for others has been celebrated by the city she helps.
Jackie Nixon has worked with the people of Sunderland for 12 years, within the third sector, the NHS and local government, with her current work centred around ageing well, dementia prevention, tackling social isolation, helping to stop falls and winter heath.
Now the 50-year-old from Roker has been recognised for her efforts with an honorary fellowship by the University of Sunderland for her “outstanding career.”
Jackie, who is mum to Rochelle, 27, and is married to Kevan, works for Sunderland City Council’s public health department and graduated with a Masters degree in public health from the city’s university.
She said: "I feel very humbled to be here today. I'm really passionate about Sunderland and the people who live here.
"After 12 years working in public health, I remain as determined as ever to help those in our communities who most need our support and compassion.”
For the last 12 years Jackie has worked in Sunderland on projects including delivering race equality within mental health, NHS health checks, suicide prevention, tackling homelessness and creating smoke-free parks.
She has also worked closely with the university, where she studied a Masters in public health, carrying out vital research into those who become isolated and lonely within the city.
She joined Paralympian Josef Craig at the ceremony as they received Honorary Fellowships.
One of five children, Jackie grew up in Salford in a working-class family who had it, in her own words, “tough”.
Her dad Henry was a bricklayer, mum Helen a sewing machinist, and the family of seven lived in a three-bedroom home.
When she still at primary school, her dad suffered a severe brain haemorrhage which left him in hospital for two years and the seven-year-old watched her mum having to cope alone.
The seeming unfairness and inequality she witnessed was the spark that lit the flame that would burn deep inside Jackie.
She left school with no qualifications, moving from job to job, before relocating to Sunderland.