Nominate an inspirational youngster for an award

Joanna Mayes receives her YOPEY award from Nicola King.

Joanna Mayes receives her YOPEY award from Nicola King.

An inspirational volunteer has encouraged young people to put themselves forward for a community award.

Joanna Mayes of Biggleswade is a former winner of the Bedffordshire Young Person of the Year (YOPEY) accolade, having run sports schemes for youngsters while fighting depression.

The 22-year-old went on to win a national vInspired award for her community work, and especially for her youth football coaching.

YOPEY aims to change the negative perceptions that people often have about young people, and champions their work in the community.

Following her successes Joanna, of Sandy View is now looking for a job as a youth worker.

She said: “In such a big world it is easy as a young person to think that you are meaningless. YOPEY made me realise that I mean something and gave me a platform to grow as a person.”

This will be the eighth year that the YOPEY awards have taken place in Beds and nominations are now being sought for the Central Beds section.

There is a top prize of £800 to be won by a young person or group of youngsters who help others. There will also be many more cash prizes where the winners give half of the money awarded away and keep the other half themselves.

Sports coaching aside, other areas of life where nominees could be making a difference could include looking after family members who may be ill, disabled or battling an addiction.

They may also be helping to run a club or other organisation which works with disabled, ill or elderly people or neglected or abandoned animals.

Other voluntary work could include mentoring or supporting someone who is going through a difficult time, or doing unpaid work at home or abroad.

A nominee may also have been responsible for an act of heroism in adversity.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “We need to give young people the respect they deserve.”

Anyone can nominate a young role model and entries close on Tuesday, January 14.

YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25 who should live, work or study in Beds.

To find out more or nominate see www.young




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