Sir Ian McKellen joined more than 30 Stonewall Youth Volunteers on Friday 25 April to recognise their dedication to tackling homophobia in their local communities. The annual Youth Awards, kindly supported by Lloyds Banking Group, saw Sir Ian presenting awards to individuals who have helped to promote equality right across Britain.
Youth Volunteers Alice McKee and Michael Young were named as Stonewall Young Campaigners of the Year 2014 for their work to improve the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
18-year-old Alice McKee from Kent impressed the judges with the breadth of her campaigning activities which included setting up a website that links local schools’ LGBTQ student societies. Alice said: ‘Taking part in the Youth Volunteering Programme has enabled me to see how homophobia and transphobia affects a whole range of people, which has given me the motivation to make change happen faster. Stonewall has helped me to believe that this change can actually be achieved.’
21-year-old Michael Young from Newcastle was recognised for his commitment to highlighting the need for more work to be done in the fight against homophobic bullying in his local area. He carried out detailed research and spoke to over 100 school pupils and teachers before producing a report with recommendations to help a local school and college. Michael said: ‘To be recognised for my work as a Stonewall young volunteer is very rewarding, as not only is the work that Stonewall does very important to me, it is also very inspiring to know that I have been involved with other young people to change attitudes. I feel really proud of this achievement.’
The Stonewall Youth Awards marked the end of this year’s Stonewall Youth Volunteering Programme, supported by Lloyds Banking Group. The free six-month Programme launched in 2009 and has helped hundreds of young people develop and run campaigns to tackle homophobia.
Lloyds Banking Group Director for Retail, Alison Brittain said: ‘It was an inspiration to meet so many young volunteers who are passionate about eradicating homophobia in their communities. Lloyds Banking Group is extremely proud of our partnership with Stonewall. Supporting the Youth Volunteering Programme is very important to us as a responsible business as it works so closely with the communities across Britain.’
Stonewall Head of Education Luke Tryl said: ‘Over the past six months this group of Youth Volunteers have challenged the idea that homophobic bullying is a fact of school life. Across Britain they have run campaigns which have reached over 10,000 of their classmates and inspired a new wave of young people to take action against homophobia. We’ve been overwhelmed by their passion, drive and creativity and are hugely grateful for the support of Lloyds Banking Group who make their campaigns possible.’
The 2014-15 Stonewall Youth Volunteering Programme will be launched during Youth Pride in London on 28 June. Applications will open online at www.youngstonewall.org.uk in July.
Picture of Alice McKee, Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Young