Philip Lawrence Awards
3 December 2008
The UCL Bloomsbury Theatre today hosted the 12th annual Philip Lawrence Awards, which reward outstanding achievements in good citizenship by young people in the UK. The ten winners are all groups of eleven- to twenty-year-olds who have "made substantial contributions to the life of their communities.
Frances Lawrence, Philip Lawrence's widow, presented the awards in a packed auditorium, together with the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, and Sir Trevor McDonald. Ms Lawrence pointed out that children are currently getting much bad press, and that "the constant drip, drip of negative reporting is very hurtful and wrong. … We need to see the good in young people, or we'll lose sight of it forever." She added that her husband had "valued all young people" and "believed in their infinite potential", and that the awards seek to continue this valuation of, and faith in, youth.
The ten winners have all engaged in a wide variety of activities: the 'Youth for Old Bike Scheme' from Ayrshire, for example, every week deliver fresh groceries to older members of their community; 'Value Life', from London, campaign to raise awareness, and re-educate the community, about the dangers of gun- and knife-crime; 'Dare 2B Different', from Huddersfield, help young people with disabilities to engage in learning, training and development opportunities; and 'Project: Nessie Club', from Cheshire, run workshops on drug abuse, anger management and debt, and outdoor activities and life-skills programmes.
Jacqui Smith said that it was a "real pleasure to come and celebrate the Philip Lawrence Awards winners", who were all "inspiring young people". The ceremony was attended by Michael Howard, who helped found the Awards in 1996, as well as the Rt Hon Jack Straw, HRH the Duchess of Kent and the Rt Hon Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
Ed Balls and Professor Michael Worton presented the first ever Honorary Philip Lawrence Award, sponsored by UCL, to the young stars of the dance group 'Flava', who work at inspiring children in their Cornish community by sharing the Flava's achievements with them through school visits and demonstrations.
Professor Worton cited Gandhi's call for every human to "be the change that you want to see in the world" - 'Flava', he said, had responded to that call, and the Philip Lawrence Judging Panel knew that "something special had happened this year". Ed Balls added that it is important for adults to show their respect for young people's views, talent, contribution, public service, and creativity. He praised 'Flava' for having "put a huge amount back into their community".
The event was followed by a reception in the Jeremy Bentham Room, hosted by UCL for the judges, winners, and ceremony attendees.
To find out more about the Philip Lawrence Awards, please see the links at the top of this page.