Philip Lawrence Awards

17 January 2006

UCL’s Bloomsbury Theatre hosted the eighth Philip Lawrence Awards in December 2005, which recognise young people age 11 to 20 who have made outstanding achievements in good citizenship.

Ten groups were recognised for their contributions to the community, including ‘City Angels’ from Sheffield, which raises awareness of bullying and supports young people through peer mentoring, role-playing and group exercises, ‘Youth2Youth’, a national helpline for the under-19s in need of emotional support, run by 54 volunteers aged 16–21, and ‘The Opal Project’ in Northamptonshire, formed by two teenagers who were self-harmers, and who wanted to support and help people to understand the issues which lead people to self-harm.

The awards are inspired by head teacher Philip Lawrence, who was stabbed to death at the gates of his Maida Vale school in 1995 when he intervened in a gang attack on a pupil. His widow, Frances Lawrence, subsequently published a vision for a better society, calling for Britain to unite in a nationwide movement for change.

The article struck a chord with the then Home Secretary Michael Howard, who responded by initiating the award scheme in memory of Philip, “to recognise outstanding achievements of good citizenship by the young”. The awards focus on the promotion and recognition of activities with relevance to the work of the Home Office, such as combating lawlessness and violence, or promoting community safety and racial harmony.

Frances Lawrence is keen that young people, through their involvement with the awards, are exposed to inspirational experiences that open up their horizons. Since its inception in 1997, over 85 groups have received the award.

Awards judge and UCL Vice Provost (Academic and International) Professor Michael Worton said: “The Philip Lawrence Awards scheme not only celebrates good citizenship by young people, it actively encourages it and provides new models for it. It is a great honour to be a judge and also very humbling when one realises just how much the award winners do in the local community. “