My name is Kev Curran, Director and Co-founder of Inspired Youth, a non profit enterprise that embraces creativity, media and story telling by putting real people at the heart of social campaigns that raise awareness and tackle stigma.
We were absolutely amazed and overwhelmed to be nominated and shortlisted for the National Diversity Awards 2016 for outstanding contributions to our community. The tributes we received during the voting process were sincerely moving and uplifting. They gave us a renewed sense of belief in the power of the work we are doing.
As we approached the magnificent Liverpool Anglican Cathedral we were met with the rhythmic and powerful sound of drums beating in unison, a brightly dressed tribe of percussionists in synergy, we knew already it was going to be an unforgettable night.
As we climbed the steps and entered the breath taking environment, lights and lasers beaming high into the Cathedral, we saw a mass of people and beyond them tables fit for kings. Myself and Liam, my colleague and assistant director, two young men from humble beginnings on council estates in the North, We’re here – shoulder to shoulder with some of the UK’s most inspirational entrepreneurs and organisations who had set about changing the world.
Not only did we meet Arsenal and England legend Sol Campbell and the likes of the incredibly funny television personality Richard Blackwood (who hosted the event), we met unsung heroes like Joshua Beckford, who at the age of 6 became the youngest person to study Philosophy and History at Oxford University! Just let how incredible that is sink in for a moment! I can only wonder where his life will lead and how much change he can affect in our world in the future. Joshua was just one of an array of people shortlisted who are utterly inspiring human being’s. Inspiring for their spirit and bravery and the difference they make to the lives of real people – often of the most vulnerable in our society.
We met Asif Iqbal MBE, who is an advocate for the Deaf, BAME and Disabled. He empowers deaf people to have a voice on local and national issues. When you hear about his achievements its incredible, but to meet the man himself is an inspiration literally!
Inspired Youth didn’t come home with an award, we came home with something just as precious, the experience. The experience of meeting inspirational people, hearing their stories, seeing what they have achieved. Each and every one of the people we met were a role model, a shining example of what we can achieve in the world when we believe in our dreams and dedicate our commitment to a cause. Not only can we can end stigma, we can have an equal society, we can grow community cohesion, we can end poverty, support the needy, create opportunities and change mind-sets. So we came away with role models, and a lot of them at that!
Everyone needs role models, and we recognise this in our work. Our most recent project is a youth driven creative campaign designed to raise the aspirations of children in care and leaving care, who often feel stigmatised and labelled by negative statistics in the media that talk about school drop outs, teenage parents and ending up in jail. This project asks if these are the expectations we put on young people, how can we expect them to achieve. Show Me That I Matter (SMTIM) are a group of care experienced young people who advocate on issues affecting all children in care in York. They wanted to create a positive campaign that provided an alternative to the stereotype. Together with Inspired Youth they designed a role model project, that brought positive care leaver role models face to face with care experienced children who interviewed them about their life. They then created a series of posters to share the positive messages they learned from the role models, to inspire other children in care and share the message that care leavers can and more than often do overcome adversity and they can and do achieve their dreams. Aspiretomore.wordpress.com
National Diversity Awards, what you do by highlighting the good in society and shining a spotlight on those who dedicate their lives to causes, is you provide a contrast to the often negative and devastating picture we are given of the world. Thank you for the experience and for recognising the work that we do, we are honoured to have met so many powerful human beings in one night and to walk away knowing the work we do and the impact it makes is the real reward! Never give up, follow your dreams, aspire to more. inspiredyouth.org