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Tomorrow's Leaders Today: Pt 2 - Celebrating the Young Leaders in our communities

It is a common refrain from community groups that they find it hard to engage young people in their work.  It is an equally common refrain from young people that their voices aren’t heard enough as adults make decisions about their neighbourhood. When this divide can be bridged and young people are able to take a lead great things can happen.

At Groundwork, we want to showcase the work of the young leaders who are the bright lights of our communities – young people (below the age of 24) who act as role models for their peers and have inspired or driven change in their local area. They may have initiated projects with and for other young people or been particularly effective at bringing different generations together. They may have contributed new skills to a group or benefited from a personal journey of their own in terms of confidence and career development.

Last year, we were thrilled to give our inaugural Young Community Leader of the Year award to Akeim Mundell.

This year, we awarded activist and community organiser, Temi Mwale, the honour, for her incredibly important work to end youth violence through the 4Front Project.

In our latest post, Young Green Ambassadors Ross and Chloe reflect on the experience of judging the category and attending the ceremony.

Ross

It was a privilege to attend the Groundwork Community Awards and a thrilling, informative and inspiring evening. In particular, it was superb to see and hear from the winner of the Young Community Leader of the Year award- Temi Mwale.

Her speech really resonated with me: speaking about how her community shapes who she is and how she has, simultaneously, shaped her community. I felt that this symbiotic relationship between place and person was a great manifestation of Groundwork’s mission statement as a charity: enabling communities to be able to reach their potential. Furthermore, Temi's words reinforced why this celebratory evening was so important. This awards ceremony provided an opportunity to underline that young people can have a pivotal role in their community, and when they do so, they can have such a profound impact on their peers. The long-term impact of this is really exciting and I hope will be a counterpoint to prevailing arguments that “community” is a dated and no longer relevant phrase or phenomenon. Certainly, the evening was a reminder of the salience of community across the country- in what are challenging and uncertain times. The evening celebrated projects from Merthyr Tidfill to Dundee and it was terrific to share the room with such diverse motivations, stories and journeys. As a Young Green Ambassador for Groundwork, this was a great source of pride; to appreciate the nationwide scope of the charity. Ultimately, this evening, in such dramatic and significant settings, was a statement of intent and a rallying call to engage with more local people to make a long-lasting change in our communities.   

 

Chloe

The Groundwork Community awards was a wonderful vibrant event; besides the fact that it was held in a prestigious venue I rarely have the opportunity of going to, it was great networking with a vast array of community groups and sponsors. And the food was exquisite!

Being on the judging panel and reading through numerous entries submitted for the 'Young Community Leader of the Year' award, I truly felt inspired by the work nominees (of various ages) had done in their local areas, across the UK. I was amazed by the way in which the projects immensely aided with their personal growth; most candidly documented the adversities they faced and how they overcame them.

Looking at such unique entries, one extremely resonated me- the story of Tewi Mwale. On the night, she proceeded on to win the Young Leaders Award. I was impressed by her persistence and ability to counter- balance the management of her social enterprise (orientated around minimising street violence, by empowering young people who may be susceptible or exposed to such social situations) with her undergraduate studies. In her acceptance speech, she mentioned “I am you… and you are me”, implying that all young people have potential, and that it’s a matter of recognition…. perhaps recognition on a more personal level. Reflecting upon my background in youth activism, I realised how working with charities like Groundwork, that provide resources for young people to devise and then execute their own projects, are key in young people recognising their own potential.

As the night progressed on, I gained further insight into community projects operating outside the London area, how they came into fruition and the tangible benefits they have had on the wider community. I left the event feeling proud, with a heightened awareness of all the inspirational activity taking place around the country.


Ross and Chloe are Groundwork Young Green Ambassadors and were among this year's pool of judges for the Groundwork Community Awards.

Check out part 1 of this short series, highlighting other young leaders in communities across the UK: www.groundwork.org.uk/Sites/youthhub/pages/tomorrows-leaders-today-pt-1
 
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