Lighting the Fire shortlist announced

Gaby Hasham, Events Assistant
Thursday 26th April 2018

We are very excited to announce the shortlisted nominees for Lighting the Fire 2018.

We received a record number of entries this year which were all of an incredibly high standard and demonstrate the inspiring and dedicated work currently going on to support young people facing conflict across the UK. Winners will be announced on Wednesday 23rd May at our awards ceremony at Bloomberg's new Headquarters.  

Young Leader (11-25 years old)

Gavin Alexander ReachOut UK

Gavin is a Project Leader at one of ReachOut’s primary school projects and has been leading a group of eight young people and six volunteers through a mentoring programme for the past two years. A number of the young people in this group have challenging home lives, which shows through their behaviour. Gavin has supported his mentee’s in being open with their feelings, and importantly also supported his mentors in working with their mentees.

Joely Harris-Tharp Khulisa

Joely is a student at Wac Arts College, a school providing alternative education for 14-19 year olds, using arts and media education to turn disengaged young peoples’ lives around. Staff and peers describe Joely as the defacto head girl, recognising her impact in calming potential violent situations at college but also encouraging pupils to step out of their comfort zone by trying new classes and making new friends, particularly individuals with low self- esteem. She is also a Khulisa ambassador and refers potential participants for Khulisa’s Face It programme which helps young people usually struggling with both academic achievement and managing their behaviour in the classroom. She also hosted Khulisa’s largest event ‘Look Beyond The Label’ in 2017.

Michael Bryan

Michael is a social activist who is passionate about empowering young people to be change makers both in their local community and globally. He is involved in a range of projects including as a young trustee for Plan International and sitting on the government’s Youth Select Committee to talk about young people’s mental health and the pressures surrounding body image. Following the passing of his father, he has worked alongside young people teaching them to code and develop an app to diagnose and monitor Parkinson’s disease. This app should be launched later this year depending on the outcome of negotiations with governments and pharmaceutical companies.

Luke Burgess The CARE group

Luke is a young care leaver and works as a facilitator for the CARE group in Leeds. The group consists of looked after children and care leavers that have had contact with the Criminal Justice System. The group aspire to create positive change for other children that are in care. They deliver workshops and training to professionals that work with young people in care to offer their perspective of how practitioners can get it right. They also work directly with children in care to build positive relationships with peers with similar experiences with the hope that they avoid offending. Luke has also worked with St Giles Trust, Leeds YOS, Residential Homes and Children’s Social Work Services.

Inspirational adult

Leighanne Grubb Yellow Qube

Leighanne is a youth worker at the Yellow Qube community centre in Lambeth. The centre aims to lead the local community to improve its emotional and physical wellbeing, empowerment and social inclusion. She supports young people to succeed and develop by sharing her personal story and showing young people that it’s possible to thrive despite any challenges they may be facing. She is at times the only female in a group of eight to ten males and is not afraid to challenge any sexist or inappropriate behaviour. She is often described as fun and a good listener by the young people she works with and is good at building strong and positive relationships with them.

Jenni Steele Jenni Steele Foundation/YANA

In March 2015, Jenni launched the Jenni Steele Foundation, an organisation that creates opportunities for the next generation of leaders through strong networks and mentoring. She is also the founder and project manager of the YANA project (You Never Walk Alone), a project in Lambeth that works with young people who have been directly affected by gang related violence, sexual grooming, exploitation, domestic violence and abuse. She is one of very few qualified trained Young Persons Independent Domestic Violence Advisors in London.

Phil Hannah Dallaglio RugbyWorks

Phil is a Lead Coach at Dallaglio RugbyWorks which, is an intensive, long-term skills development programme based on the values of rugby, through which they aim to get teenagers outside mainstream education into sustained education, employment or training. Phil goes above and beyond in his role at RugbyWorks, setting up a regular touch rugby session for his mentees who have left education to provide them with a safe and positive environment to discuss their future. He has also provided some of his young people with part-time work at a company called Cheers Mate, where they are paid to video rugby games across Greater London.

Sandra Clue Evolve Housing + Support

Sandra Clue is the Senior Support Worker at Evolve Housing + Support’s Stockwell site. Evolve Housing + Support provide supported housing for young people who are vulnerable and homeless, whilst providing a range of services including counselling, one-to-one support and work and learning opportunities. Sandra strives on a daily basis to provide the highest quality of one-to-one support for her clients regardless of the situation and especially in times of conflict. She works to address the real issues of adversity that the young people face whilst providing solutions and alternative options that most would not consider.


The Generation STORM project The Change Foundation

Designed for women, by women, Generation STORM was created by The Change Foundation to combat the increasing numbers of girls and young women facing ill mental health, linked to body dissatisfaction, self-esteem issues, conflict with friends and the never ending pressures and unrealistic expectations stemming from social media. It supports “high-risk” disadvantaged young women in Lambeth to make positive transitions between education and work by providing them with a range of skills that challenge and inspire them to think positively about their future through sports, fitness and youth work. The young women are also matched with female mentors from a variety of different industries who are invited to lead empowering workshops and talks with the young women.

Advocacy and Youth Opportunities Teams Just For Kids Law

The Just for Kids Law Advocacy and Youth Opportunities teams work with young people facing a range of issues; from bullying and the risk of school exclusion; to gang violence and street homelessness. The Advocacy team works with young people to ensure that their voices are heard in the conversations about their lives and help mediate between the young person and the agencies they are working with to help ensure clearer and stronger relationships of support. The young people are then able to work with the Youth Opportunities team, to look beyond the immediate conflict in their lives, learn new skills, get involved in their community and volunteer; helping them to move from a place of crisis towards a place of stability.

Aik Saath-Together As One

Aik Saath means “Together As One" in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. The charity was set up twenty years ago in response to gang violence between young people from Asian backgrounds in Slough. Their mission is to work with people from all communities, faiths and backgrounds to promote and encourage conflict resolution and community cohesion through training, campaigns and projects. These include a peer mentoring scheme, a monthly spoken word event ‘Empoword’ and a voluntary gardening project. These initiatives are all led by young people and supporting young people to drive the changes they want to see in their community is a value at the heart of their work.

United Borders

United Borders was started by Justin Finlayson in August 2017 as a way of uniting young people from two rival gangs in Brent, after he witnessed the murder of two young people on his old estate. The project is delivered in a double-decker bus, which the team park on gang lines before encouraging young people to get on board and take part. The focus of the project is music with the upper deck converted into a classroom and professional music studio. Young people from rival estates are encouraged to work on and produce music together and over time build resilience, learn how to avoid risky behaviours, think beyond their gang lines and start to engage with other opportunities.  

Leap Young Leader

Each year Leap trainers, trustees and staff nominate young people involved with Leap for the Leap Young Leader award. Young people on the shortlist below have all become role models and leaders for others in the local community as a result of their hard work and engagement with Leap’s courses:

Courtney Tomlinson

When he had the opportunity to meet the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, Courtney spoke openly about how his experiences of family, friendship, and growing up on a large council estate have impacted on him and his friends, and the complexities of growing up as a young black man.

Courtney has been a positive role model for his peers, and called them out on their behaviour when they became challenging during the programme. In the words of JK Rowling; “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”. Through courageously challenging his friends Courtney demonstrated that by being the confident and open young man he is, others value his leadership and hold him in high regard. 

Dionne Emmerson

When Dionne came to Leap her confidence was low and she struggled to make friends. However, she stuck with it and began to understand that while other people might be aggressive or shout when they experience conflict, she is someone who internalises a lot of her experiences.

Dionne has grown into a confident and articulate young women. Last year she hosted Lighting the Fire, as part of her work with Waltham Forest YIAG she runs workshops for young people, and she’s training to become a Leap Young Trainer. Dionne knows that she wants to work with young people as, in her words, “I’ve always found it frustrating that some young people can’t see that they have some hope and don’t need to go down certain roads”.

James Traylen

When he first came to Leap, James came across as reserved and timid. Having grown up in a challenging environment James found it difficult to gain confidence, which affected him academically.

However, since coming to Leap, James has gained confidence and self-esteem and quickly realised he wanted to challenge himself by getting into work. He found a 20-week course that gave him the qualifications and work experience that he needed to achieve his goals. After the course he obtained his Math's and English functional skills and gained full time employment. James has the ability to keep trying even when life throws the hardest trials his way, he gets his head down and continues to work hard on his goals.

Khaleel Williams

Since graduating from Leap, Khaleel has taken advantage of all the opportunities he can. He has qualified as a level three football coach, and has been looking to the future and applying for apprentice roles for when he finishes college.

Khaleel recently volunteered his time at one of Leap’s events. Speaking in front of 30 unfamiliar adults is an intimidating prospect, but Khaleel kept his calm and delivered an inspirational speech to support the audience to understand the context young people are growing up in today. His pro-active and enthusiastic nature has had an inspiring effect on his peers in his community - leading and influencing them to attend Leap courses, showing them that there lots of opportunities to take, and that there are different ways of seeing the world. 

Kymani Noble

Kymani has worked hard to set and achieve goals. He has delivered workshops at Leap and for a partner organisation, and he volunteered to sit on one of our interview panels.

Kymani recently attended two meetings with Prince Harry, where he spoke about his experiences and inputted into discussions around young people and their experiences today. When Kymani speaks about topics he is passionate about, his knowledge and confidence shine through and he inspires others in the group to become more confident too.

Sherif Olatunji

Sherif has a great understanding of societal issues especially in and around the areas he grew up. He has become involved in music and wants to use this platform to share his message. He holds the issue of knife crime dearly and wants works to create awareness about positive choices.

Sherif attends our Youth Involvement Group and has facilitated two sessions for other young people. Through these sessions, our young people have benefited from seeing one of their own take up a leadership position. They have truly been inspired and we have seen a knock on effect with other young people now wanting to deliver their own sessions too.

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