Award-winning Barry youth group enjoys Downing Street visit
8:40am Tuesday 25th September 2012 in News
A GROUP of young people from Barry were invited to Number 11 Downing Street, to celebrate winning a 2011 Philip Lawrence Award.
The Vale Youth Speaks Up members were joined by other winners from across Wales, England and Scotland, and met awards founder Frances Lawrence, Chancellor George Osborne, Michael Gove, Michael Howard, David Blunkett and The Duchess of Kent.
Founded in July 2009, Vale Youth Speak Up is a Barry-based user-led self-advocacy children and young people's group of 36 young people aged 11-25, working to highlight and tackle the issues of discrimination and bullying facing young people with disabilities.
A major objective is to empower and facilitate young people's involvement in decision-making processes.
The group has used innovative methods to convey the message that people with disabilities can excel when they are listened to and given the right support.
The Philip Lawrence Awards Network, known as PLAnet, celebrates groups of young people who make a real difference in their communities to counter crime and violence, bullying and racism, and challenge negative stereotypes.
The awards were set up in memory of headteacher Mr Lawrence who was murdered outside his school in 1995 after going to the aid of a pupil who was being attacked by a gang.
The awards exemplify the late headteacher's belief that 'Every Child is Capable of Greatness', and are managed by crime reduction charity Nacro, and funded by the Home Office.
Vale People First co-ordinator, Liz Davidson said: "Vale Youth Speak Up is a group that has only been meeting for two years, and to have attracted such kudos in such a short space of time is incredible. "The group is made up of learning disabled children and young people, who meet to tackle discrimination, discuss issues that they face in their lives, learn about their rights and train professionals in disability awareness and fairness."
Frances Lawrence, who founded the awards in memory of her husband, said: "I am still inspired and humbled by the determination of our winners to confront cutting-edge problems in their communities and by their imaginative solutions.
"Whatever their personal history, these young people work together in a spirit of unity to truly transform other people's lives."