The #Campaign4YouthRecognition calls on people and organisations to make more nominations of exceptional young citizens for national recognition. The latest addition to YVH recommended list* are The British Citizen Youth Awards (BCyA). Managed by the charity ‘The British Citizen Awards’, it only awards 24 medals a year to those helping others through fund-raising, awareness-raising or social action. At this year’s Westminster celebration in October, YVH founder and BCyA Ambassador James Cathcart joined Sec of Sate for Education Gillian Keegan MP and singer/dancer/judge and Patron of BCyA Kimberley Wyatt, in presenting some of the awards. In this blog he talks about the event, his #Campaign4Youth Recognition and calls on us all to ‘not just notice young peoples success, but nominate them for recognition’.
The British Citizen Youth Awards “I have always enjoyed supporting children and young peoples recognition initiatives and attending many award events over the years, either as a judge, an award presenter, nominator, or host. I’ve been keen to support the recognition award initiatives wherever Ive worked, such as The Prince’s Trust and The British Youth Council, and I still help with identifying and supporting young judges for the Children and Young People Now magazine awards over 15 years, so it was an easy ‘yes’ when I was first invited to be an Ambassador for the new British Citizen Youth Awards in 2016. This initiative may be less well-known to youth sector organisations, but one which I’d particularly recommend for its appeal to a wide range of children, whether they are members or organisations or not.
The British Citizen Youth Award (BCyA) , now in its eighth year, honours 24 young people from across the UK that have made a difference in their communities and are an inspiration to others. Each young medallist is invited to use the post-nominals BCyA as a legacy of their achievements and commitment to others. I’ve had the privilege to be an ambassador to the charity and was at the official ceremony at the Palace of Westminster, curtesy of Patron Dame Mary Perkins, to present four inspirational young people with their BCyA Medal of Honour. Two of the awards were to youth voice champions local to my home counties of Kent, Oliver Smith BCyA (15) school councillor, Swale Youth Forum and Kent Youth County Council, and Medway’s youngest Youth Council Chair and campaigner, Rose Stokes BCyA (15).
The topic and age-range of medal-winners is vast and includes ‘ones-to-watch for the future like climate change campaigner Aleesha Gadhia BCyA (8) who has already been praised by a PM, Sir David Attenburgh and HM the Queen, and butterfly conservationist Rebecca Bailey (12) BCyA who has appeared on SkyKids and CCBC. It’s also very humbling to meet some of the children (and their parents), who have overcome physical and mental adversity to volunteer to campaign for funding and awareness of their conditions,
such as Chanel Murrish BCyA, whom I presented with a medal in 2017 when she was aged 3, the youngest person in the world to have survived heart surgery, and Tobias Weller BCyA (12) who raised £168,000 for charities by using a special ‘walker’ to aid him walk the equivalent of a marathon during Covid. He was featured on TV and also received royal Honours – a BEM.
.. and sometimes we get something back! I was delighted when Ilhora-Lee Louison (9) BCyA, children’s mental health champion, presented me with a copy of her Self Development Journal! Wow – thankyou!
These selfless young people have shown commitment to a multitude of causes, raising funds and awareness, and are all dedicated to making a difference.
Hosting the event this year was singer and actress, Kimberly Wyatt who is also a Patron of The British Citizen Youth Award who said “Many of these kids have faced turmoil in their own lives yet still choose to be selfless and help others. I applaud you and your families for your hard work and dedication. You are the future, and your brilliant endeavours will make a difference!”
There is also one group award – the Dame Mary Perkins award, this year went to Bright Minds Bright Futures, from Stockton-on-Tees, whose local council supports them to become involved in social action projects – fundraising and volunteering to make an impact in their local area.
All of those who have received medals are listed with their stories in the BCyA Roll of Honour on their website.
Campaign for Youth Recognition
BCyA awards were introduced in 2016 was also the year I started the #Campaign4YouthRecognition . The aim is to increase awareness and reporting of the incredible work children and young people are doing to help other people, to both boost their causes, inspire others to follow their example and to promote a culture in society that includes and values the contribution of all our young citizens, especially those who would not otherwise get recognition.
I initially started researching #youthvoice role models who had been recognised by the Honours system, and started to publish an annual list. I looked into how young people were being nominated and, following meetings with the Cabinet Office, started promoting nominations to both the Queens (now King’s) New Year and Birthday Honours – because most people that I talked to about them were unaware that they could even submit a nomination. (They have been open to the public nomination since 1993). The BEM medal, which was reintroduced in 2012, was being awarded to a handful of children and young people for exceptional public service. (Others have since received MBEs). Working with the support of the Cabinet Office Ive been researching and publishing annual the Youth Honours list of case studies and producing materials/webinair/tips to make them more accessible to nominators of all ages. [link]
The subsequent broader Young Voices Heard ‘campaign for youth recognition’ which campaigns for all young people’s voices to be heard, also includes a call for success to be celebrated: ‘Don’t just notice – Nominate’ … children and young people for any recognition scheme that recognises inspirational and exceptional young people. Ive been particularly targeting national awards that cross over to influence public opinion through national media recognition, and to schemes whose initiatives that are open to nominations from anyone. I’ve included links below to some of my favourites – the PM Point of Light Awards, the Pride of Britain Awards, the Diana Awards and although relatively unknown to the public, the #IWillMovements Ambassador scheme which is a great indicator for more formal recognition.
Nominate now, to ByCA or other initiatives, to shine a light on youth action and youth voice. By lifting up these individuals to public acclaim we challenge negative perceptions about youth, inspire others to follow, and invest in a new wave of young leaders!”
The YVH website includes tips on how to nominate for the Kings Awards at Young Voices Heard’s website.