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Inspirational young achievers and volunteers receive awards

Release Date: 20 Dec 2018

Inspirational young people and committed volunteers were praised for their bravery, determination and hard work during a prestigious Barnardo’s awards ceremony.

Barnardo’s celebrated its amazing young achievers and dedicated volunteers at an event in London on 19 December 2018 attended by former senior Government Minister and Barnardo’s child Rt. Hon Esther McVey MP and former TOWIE stars and Barnardo’s ambassadors Lydia Bright and Debbie Douglas.

The Barnardo’s Young Achiever awards, now in their second year, recognise children and young people who have overcome the odds to become the person they are today. They have never given up in the face of adversity and have had a positive impact on other children and young people. A total of eight winners with uplifting and moving stories were selected from each region of the UK and received an award.

One award-winner is Seun Ajisafe, 17, from Newport. From an early age, Seun had to support his mum, who suffers from physical health conditions. He has taken on responsibilities for cleaning, cooking and shopping for his family, as well as assisting with medication. Despite these pressures, Seun achieved excellent GCSE results – all A* and As. His ambition is to study pharmacy.

Seun said:

Caring for my mum and brother takes up most of my time outside school, so I don’t socialise much. I have an hour or two a day to fit in my revision for my A-levels and my leisure time, like coaching basketball for other young carers.

It takes a toll and I don’t sleep much but I just get on with it really. There’s a positive side too. I feel like I’ve grown up and I’m able to handle myself and that will benefit me in the future.

And when I go to university I won’t have to rely on takeaways because I’ve learnt to cook healthy food! I just do my best and seeing my mum in such pain has really made me want to study pharmacy at university so I can provide a better quality of life for people.

Another is Ed Fox, 21, from Lincolnshire. Ed was taken in to the care of the local authority as a child, due to violence in the family home. He was at a special school because of his behaviour, however Ed moved through college, into an apprenticeship in construction and into full time employment. Ed’s attendance on his apprenticeship was exceptional at 100 per cent.  

Ed got up at 5am to make the 25 mile journey by bus to work, but saved his wages and bought a car so he could drive. Ed volunteered at his local youth centre throughout his apprenticeship.

Farrah McCloskey, four, received support from Barnardo’s Sure Start service in Co Tyrone, and its developmental programme which aims to help two to three years olds with communication skills, emotional and social development.

Farrah was born with a rare condition and has a prosthetic leg fitted, requiring the need of a walking aid. Farah was nominated for her cheerful ‘can do’ approach to overcoming obstacles and problem–solving. Due to her determination and self-belief she managed to walk unaided.

Matthew Fisher, 17, from Chorley, is supported by Barnardo’s Participation service in Lancashire, which gives a voice to young people with disabilities and additional needs by giving them the opportunity to influence decision-making and bring about change.

Matthew is part of a fully trained group of Young Inspectors, who visit local authority services to speak to young people receiving services as well as managers and staff and produce reports with recommendations based on their findings.

In addition to the Young Achievers, eight volunteers were given awards from the Marsh Christian Trust which has been running for 18 years. Their awards recognise people who are at the heart of the charity sector and who voluntarily or professionally go above and beyond to make a difference – sometimes while overcoming some personal adversity, or impairments.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

It was a real honour to meet our inspiring young achievers. At Barnardo’s we believe in children. No matter what they have experienced – we know that with the right support every child can overcome challenges and go on to achieve incredible things.

I’d like to congratulate all our award winners today – including our amazing volunteers, who play a crucial role in transforming children’s lives through our services, and in generating income in our high street shops.

Former TOWIE stars and Barnardo’s ambassadors Lydia Bright and Debbie Douglas were full of praise for the award winners.

Lydia Bright said:

The stories that I heard about these incredible young people brought tears to my eyes. I’m in awe of what they have achieved and it just goes to show what children can do if someone believes in them.

Debbie Douglas said:

I take my hat off Barnardo’s volunteers who dedicate their time, which they give so generously, to playing a part in improving the lives of vulnerable children. Each and every one makes a difference.

Rt. Hon Esther McVey and David Booker from the Marsh Trust presented the awards at the event hosted at Sainsbury’s headquarters in London. The MP for Tatton said:

I have met some wonderful young people who have overcome incredibly tough challenges with such courage and stoicism. These young people show that with the right support, anyone can go on to lead positive and fulfilling lives. I spent four of the earliest years of my life in care with Barnardo’s and am so grateful for the charity’s support. Barnardo’s relies on the wonderful work of its selfless volunteers and I’m delighted to have met some inspiring award winners today.

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