Top civic award for Leeds pupil who supported refugees at school

Amran was last night named Young Person of the Year at the prestigious Child Friendly Leeds Awards, which recognise the people, places and organisations that have helped make Leeds a child friendly city.

Returning for the first time since 2020, the awards were presented at an incredible ‘futuristic’ ceremony at Leeds City Varieties Hall last night (Tuesday 5 July). The event also marked the celebration of Child Friendly Leeds’ 10th birthday.

Planned and delivered by a group of 10 to 17-year-olds, the ceremony was attended by an audience of 400 people, including the Lord Mayor of Leeds, city leaders and VIP guests.

The winners of the Child Friendly Leeds Awards 2022 are:

Child / Young Person of the Year (aged 0-21 or up to 25 with additional needs):

Amran Neshat: Amran is a John Smeaton Academy pupil who provided invaluable support to new refugees from Afghanistan when they joined the school. As a fluent speaker of Darsi/Farsi, Amran put them at ease, supported teachers with translation and led his peers in providing a warm welcome. The new pupils are thriving in school, thanks to Amran’s awe-inspiring compassion.

Youth Group of the Year (age range up to 25 years):

Rothwell Windmill Youth Club: This tenacious group started meeting their youth workers in the local park when they couldn’t access their club building during the pandemic. They committed to meeting regularly outdoors throughout, to support each other with their mental health through this difficult period. The group surpassed expectations campaigning to save their group and supported their community through the pandemic.

Adult Making a Difference for Young People:

Julie Roper: Julie is a longstanding member of the Girls’ Brigade and is an inspiring role model for young girls. She promotes a healthy lifestyle, community spirit and the importance of being an active citizen and supporting others. During the pandemic, she continued badge work, games and competitions for the girls and became a valuable source of support.

Schools Award for Local Heroes:

Zarach Leeds & Bex Wilson: Bex founded Zarach in 2018. The charity began by providing a proper bed to children living in Leeds without one. They have since expanded their services to offer food clubs, emergency electricity and gas supplies, school uniform exchange, and holiday projects and are committed to improving outcomes for children experiencing hardship.

Inspiring Creativity Through Arts and Culture:

LS18 Rocks: During the pandemic, young musicians at LS18 Rocks excelled themselves by raising thousands for charity. They recorded a song that attracted worldwide publicity and funded an older person’s social project, staged fundraising concerts for refugees and also launched a project to raise climate change awareness that has resulted in a collaboration with the world-famous Hallé Orchestra.

Best Place in Leeds for Children and Young People:

Think Like a Pony: Think Like a Pony is a supportive place for children of all ages with emotional, behavioural and mental health challenges. Young people work directly with ponies that have experienced similar challenges. Mentored by knowledgeable staff who teach invaluable coping strategies for everyday life, they are supported to make positive changes and build confidence and self-esteem.

Overall Contribution to Making Leeds a Child Friendly City:

Leeds Baby Bank: Leeds Baby Bank supports families across Leeds, who require baby essentials. From nappies and formula to buggies, clothing, and toys; they provide everything needed to support families caring for pre-school children. They not only ensure children are safe, clothed, and fed, but also connect families to other services in their area for ongoing support.

The awards were hosted by City Varieties and were sponsored by The Grammar School at Leeds, Trinity Leeds, White Rose Shopping Centre, Victoria Leeds, City Varieties and First Direct Arena. Thank you to Harvey Nichols, who hosted our business networking event which took place prior to the awards.

Councillor Fiona Venner, executive member for adult and children’s social care and health partnerships, said: “This year marks the 10th birthday of Child Friendly Leeds, and I am delighted that the Child Friendly Leeds Awards have taken place this year, as it was not possible due to the pandemic in 2021.

“This makes it even more special and important to celebrate and recognise all the people, organisations, businesses and places that have gone that extra mile and made a difference to children, young people and families in Leeds.

“The event is unique because it is planned and delivered by young people and showcases talented young people from across our city. I would like to congratulate the winners, those shortlisted and all the nominees – they have all made, and continue to make, remarkable contributions to our child friendly ambition.

“The awards would not be possible without the ongoing support of our incredible network of business ambassadors, and so a special thanks also goes out to all of them. Our Child Friendly Leeds ambition is a citywide partnership approach, and it is so wonderful that so many organisations and people across our city share our passion for, and commitment to, being a child friendly city and these awards are a great opportunity for us to recognise them and commend their valuable work and tireless dedication.

“We are always looking for more businesses to join our network of committed ambassadors and help make Leeds the best city for children and young people to grow up in.”

The awards are just the beginning of a summer of celebrations for Child Friendly Leeds, who have a number of events taking place in the next couple of months.

Child Friendly Leeds will soon launch their refreshed and revised Child Friendly Leeds wishes, which are the guiding principles that set the initiative’s vision to make Leeds a child friendly city. The new wishes were developed alongside children and young people from the city and will be showcased at a two-week exhibition at Leeds City Museum starting on Tuesday 12 July.

Friday 15 July will see young people from across Leeds participate in a Leeds 2023 Youth Summit at Leeds Playhouse. The summit has been organised by young leaders, providing the opportunity for young people to have their say about what culture means for them.

And on Wednesday 3 August, National Play Day, the team at Breeze will be running Child Friendly Leeds Live at Millennium Square. The day will include two sessions of fun-packed performances and entertainment plus arts, crafts, and sports for children to enjoy. Tickets for Child Friendly Leeds Live go on sale today at https://www.breezeleeds.org.

For more information on all the fantastic activities and events taking place across Leeds this summer, visit https://www.leeds.gov.uk/campaign/celebrating-child-friendly-leeds and follow Child Friendly Leeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.

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