Its been a New Years Honour for four more amazing young leaders: Carl Konadu BEM (28), Rhammel Afflick BEM (26), Alex Anderson BEM (20) and Samah Khalil BEM (20), who were recognised by HM the Queen for their services to young people and/or their communities. This time last year I wrote about the upward trend in awarding both BEMs and MBEs to some young people who are leading the way. YVH continues to campaign for more to be recognised by awards bodies and the media. The independent youth-led ‘Project Hope’ has just launched its own Young People’s Honour List to ensure even more are recognised. Let’s all make the 2020’s a decade to #nominateyouth to boost a new wave of youth leadership to inspire us in the coming years of post Covid/Brexit revival. Its time for #new-gen of #young-gen to lead – not just be listened to.
Young Voices Heard has been campaigning since 2017 for greater recognition of young leaders across the board including: Sector Awards (e.g. by magazines/sector bodies), the Prime Minister’s Points of Light awards, and youth friendly organisations internal or external awards. Many have been making awards to young people (and children) for decades, with their stakeholders and sector audiences, but I would love to see wider national, public and media recognition for a new generation of young role models and talented leaders, ensuring parity of esteem in the national psyche. Let’s all ‘do something amazing and nominate someone amazing’. The Queens Honour list has the highest profile and it lasts a lifetime. This is why YVH is campaigning to see more nominations for young people (and their champions), and particularly for royal recognition. It remains one of Young Voices Heard New Year Resolutions for 2021, alongside continuing to challenge the negative stereo-typing of the youth of today, and increasing the number of youth voice and meaningful participation opportunities in organisations and public life.
Youth Honours List – Young Leaders
Support this campaign: We have been researching and collating all those aged under 30, in recent year, who feature as community or social action leaders, and as potential role models. The cabinet office doesn’t publish the ages, so we are reliant on tracking news stories and tweets. So we are always open to amending or updating the list. The aim to not only recognise their achievements in a little more detail, but track numbers and trends over time. This is a voluntary project and anyone reading this who would like to support and fund a more thorough piece of research (there appears to be 3:1 male/female ratio) , which will include ‘story telling’ through interview with some of the recipients – please contact me using the form below..
Queens New Years Honour 2021
- Carl Konadu BEM (28),for supporting and empowering young people (CEO and co-founder of 2-3 Degrees as a youthled start up)
- Rhammel Afflick BEM (26), Community for work in London, including Director of Comms for PRIDE (Comms lead at the British Youth Council)
- Alex Anderson BEM (20) for charity work/raising awareness and challenging labels of young people on the Autism Spectrum ASD (Air Cadet)
- Samah Khalil BEM (20) Young Mayor of Oldham, youthvoice, participation and representation.
Award Winners 2013-2020
I first noticed the current trend* of awarding BEMs to young changemakers, in 2013, when Anisa Hagdadi was awarded a BEM (age 23) for founding Beatfreeks, an award-winning social enterprise engaging young people in arts, training and leadership opportunities. A year later (2014) one of my previous ‘managers’, former trustees and Chair of the British Youth Council, Rosina St James (age 23) was awarded a BEM for her work on Health and Wellbeing for young people. Although young people in sports and arts has been recognised for their achievements, it was still rare for young campaigners or volunteers to be nominated or recognised. In the 2016 New Years Honours 2016 Jonjo Heuerman, (13) was revealed as the youngest yet, to receive a BEM, having raised more than £235,000 for Cancer Research UK’s Bobby Moore Fund.
There has been very little research into who, let alone profile and background, to draw on but the next name I came across was in 2017, when someone I knew from his work in setting up One Big Community anti-knife crime campaign at the age of 13, and then as Lambeth’s rep to the UK Youth Parliament, changemaker Jeremiah Emmanuel BEM (age 18). He joined Devan Witter (age 19) who was awarded a BEM for founding antibullying campaign Action Against Bullying.
In 2018 Lucia Mee BEM (age 18) an organ donation campaigner from Northern Ireland and Tyler Murphy BEM (age 22) who set up the Tyler’s Trust to support others who share his brain-tumour condition, were recognised.
In 2019 MBEs were awarded to Saeed Atcha MBE (22), activist, former trustee of Step Up To Serve and founder of Explode magazine; and to the CEO of Patchwork Foundation; Imran Sanaullah MBE (age 26) engaging young people from minorities in politics, and Anna Rose Barker MBE (age 28) for services to young people including being a former Chair of the British Youth Council. And a BEM to Richard Collins BEM (age 17, Asperger’s Support)
In the 2020 New Year’s Honours list Matthew Otubu BEM (age 24) former member of the Youth Parliament for services to young people in the UK and Africa, Ibrahim Yousaf BEM (13), for fundraising for cancer research, joined the inspiring Mete Coban MBE (age 27) for establishing My Life My Say, giving youth-voice an effective platform on Brexit, as well as campaigning for young voter-registration. In addition, Yusuf Patel, 25, is now an MBE for services to community cohesion and interfaith in Redbridge; and BEMs for disability advocate Jack Marshall BEM, 21, Hannah Phillips BEM, 24, for services to charity, and finally Kaiya Swain BEM, 25, for services to the World Skills Competition.
In the summer three more names were added to make 2020 a record breading year. Amelia Collins-Patel MBE (22) for her services to young people, including volunteering for Project Hope @ylprojecthope, who have launched their own Young Peoples Honours List at the end of 2020; Marcus Rashford MBE (22) for his campaigning on free school meals, and Theo Wride BEM (16) for making PPE during Covid crisis, and John Challenger BEM (17) for his service to young people, particularly his coordinating role at Sea Cadets.
Giving awards to those so young is not without its critics who argue that early one-off achievements are not comparable with a lifetime of service, but that doesn’t take account of the future potential such recognition will help to sustain, the increased likelihood of more opportunities coming their way, and marking of them as flagbearers of a next generation – to shapers all of our futures. I know others would point to others who go unrecognised, but I would urge them to get writing to nominate.
I hope that in sharing these few examples its prompts us all to think of others who would deserve to be recognised, not just nationally, but local too. I have made it one of my New Year Resolutions to turns these thoughts of admiration into action, talent spotting more young leaders and champions to be nominated. As the Cabinet Office Honours strapline says “do something amazing, for someone amazing – #nominatetoday”
Note: *The list of young people in this blog are either those that I have known personally or have come across through their work. There are more and not all people named on the Honours List agree to publicity. Ive not included those who have been recognised for sport and the arts. Anyone reading this article who knows of nationally “Honoured” young people Ive overlooked, please get in touch with me via http://www.YoungVoicesHeard.org.uk .
James Cathcart is the Founder/Director or YoungVoicesHeard @YVH_YouthVoice
Youth Honours List (age <30 at the time)
2021 NEW Carl Konadu (28); Rhammel Afflick BEM (26); Alex Anderson BEM (20); and Samah Khalil BEM (20)
2020 Amelia Collins-Patel MBE (22); Marcus Rashford MBE (22); Theo Wride BEM (16); Mete Coban MBE (27); Matthew Otubu BEM (24); Ibrahim Yousaf BEM (13); Yusuf Patel MBE (25); Hannah Phillips BEM (24); Jack Marshall BEM (21); Kaiya Swain BEM (25)
2019 Saeed Atcha MBE (22); Imran Sanaullah MBE (26); Anna Barker MBE (28); Richard Collins BEM (17)
2018 Lucia Mee BEM (18); Tyler Murphy BEM (22)
2017 Jeremiah Emmanuel BEM (18); Devan Witter BEM (19)
2016 Jonjo Heuerman BEM (13)
2015 none known
2014 Rosina St James BEM (23)
2013 Anisa Hagdadi BEM (23)
1949 Bernard Davis BEM (16)
Please send us any names we may have overlooked using the contact form below. Do something amazing – nominate someone amazing.
Step up to serve: Who was the first young person to ever be awarded at BEM?
Bernard Jeffrey Davis, when in 2015, still held the record as the youngest person ever to be awarded a BEM. In 1949, at the age of 16, Bernard risked his life in rescuing a 3-year-old girl from a window ledge in a bomb-damaged block of flats in 1949 near Borough Market. I’m sure the impact of the award was celebrated at the time, but although few will recognise Bernard’s name today, the impact of that heroic action lasted a lifetime for the little girl whose life he saved, when Bernard literally ‘stepped up’ to serve.
Other Young Voices Heard Resolutions since 2017 – a new blog including the resolutions and hopes of young leaders in the YVH Network will be blogged in January 2021
- To campaign for a FT Youth Minister and Youth Policy Advisory Panel, to develop and coordinate Youth Strategy and policy.
- To encourage more young people to apply and be appointed as Trustees/Directors, and for Boards to recruit/include them as normally as they would any other demographic or minority that adds value to governance, for their skills, perspective and network rather than their tokenistic representation. The stats are poor and hardly changed over the last 15 years.
- To challenge stereotypical and ill-informed attitudes towards young people that block their potential to contribute to society as active citizens. From voting to volunteering, as doers, decision-makers, campaigners and representatives, young people have skills, networks and energy that could add value to communities, boardrooms and even parliament. Lets listen, work with and invest in young people.