MWOTY Where Are They Now: Alison Hodgson

Back in 2017, counsellor and educator, Alison Hodgson, was named our Merseyside Woman of the Year and also the winner of the Changing Communities Award. A specialist in the field of volatile substance abuse (VSA) and Former Legal Highs (NPS), she gained personal experience of the consequences of drug misuse when a close family member was murdered in a drug-related incident in 2007. This tragedy led to the establishment of her charity, Evolve, which sought to tackle the impact of substance abuse. Three years on from her win, we catch up with Alison and she what she’s been up to.

So Alison, how was your work evolved since being named MWOTY in 2017?

“My work remains the same as I’ve done for the last seven years – providing age appropriate education and awareness, counselling and family support. In 2017 I had reached out to over 40,000 young people over four years. Since 2017 I have managed to reach out to a further 40,000 young people with my presentation, changing many lives. I have recruited a few new trustees to the board and I now employ a part-time development officer which has taken a lot of pressure off me, allowing me to do what I’m best at, education and counselling.

That’s incredible news and wonderful to hear that you’re still making such a huge difference. How did MWOTY help support this continuation of your work?

“Winning MWOTY helped to raise my charity profile and get more people on board. Also, on International Woman’s Day in 2019, I was placed on a list of Merseyside’s 100 most inspirational women. That all happened because of the recognition of winning MWOTY.”

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected the work you do and what changes have you had to make?

“Sadly, because of COVID-19 both myself and our Development Officer, Alan Kelly, have been furloughed. As Evolve’s work is mainly undertaken within the school setting or in a counselling situation, it is not possible for me to start again until the schools return. There is also no funding available so we have a massive battle on our hands to survive.”

So what’s next for Evolve?

“I am trying to get funding in from different sources to keep Evolve, well…evolving! I am working hard to make it sustainable and enable me to carry on offering Evolve services for free.”

In terms of the MWOTY awards. What did the win mean to you on a personal level?

“It was one of the proudest moments of my life, right next to giving birth to my two children actually. I also can’t thank the MWOTY crew  enough for taking care of me.

“It also helped me to start looking after myself a little better and I lost three stone in weight!”

An unexpected side effect there! So, based on your MWOTY experience, what advice would you give to other women in the region working in your sector?

“Never stop believing in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. Every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes’. There are no regrets, these are all just learning curves to help us on our way.”

Absolutely perfect advice! Just one more question before you go. Tell us, why should people nominate women for the MWOTY awards?

“Because MWOTY recognises the women that are out there, not just talking the talk but actually walking the walk and getting things done.”

Nominations for the MWOTY Awards 2020 are still open, why not shine a light on an amazing woman you know by telling us about them here.

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