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Past winners of the Philip Lawrence Awards joined the 2011 judging panel at the Home Office this week. Frances Lawrence joined them for the event organised by Nacro on 6 December.

Rt Hon Theresa May, Home Secretary, joined the judging panel made up of experts in the field and chaired by Sir Trevor McDonald, OBE, to carefully chose the winners of this year’s awards. A diverse mix of past winners joined the experts to judge the entries, reflecting the scheme’s ideals of putting young people at the heart of the process.

The nominated projects demonstrate young people improving their own lives and the lives of others and those who are taking a lead and having an impact. They make a sustainable contribution to their communities and make strong links between generations. They promote respect and understanding of faiths, culture and communities, active citizenship, community safety, and ultimately crime reduction.

There was also an opportunity for the past winners and other young people present to talk to the Home Secretary about the innovative youth projects they have been involved in and the impact winning the award has had on their lives.

The winning projects will be announced on the 25 January 2012 at the House of Commons.

Sir Trevor McDonald OBE, Chair of the judging panel, said:

“The Philip Lawrence Awards seeks to award young people who make a big difference to their communities and challenges stereotypes of young people. I think we had some projects today which reflected that very well and throughout the existence of the awards that has been the theme – showing that young people are not always problems in society, but they’re problem solvers in their communities.

Frances asked me to be involved with the awards initially and I’ve been very pleased to assist in a small way to reward the young people who really make a difference in their communities. It’s been great fun and I enjoy doing it.”

PLA judge Jessica Preddy, who won a Philip Lawrence Award with her project Neath Port Talbot Youth Council in 2009, told us how winning an award has impacted her project:

“Since we won the award we’ve discussed issues with our local county council and we’re currently running an anti-bullying campaign. In our area we’ve made such a big difference because the young people that sit on the youth council have developed skills for themselves. We’ve reconstructed the youth council and now we have more members, more young people involved, and we’re targeting a wider area”.

Former winner, Laden Mirzadeh, who has been part of the Philip Lawrence Awards network since her Brighton project Sahara won in 2001, told us why she still enjoys being part of the Philip Lawrence Awards Network:

“I’ve been part of the Philip Lawrence Awards for almost ten years now and the reason is because the awards are so inspirational – meeting all the young people who are on the same level and doing brilliant work in their communities. Ten years on it still gives me a sense of pride that I am part of something really worthwhile that empowers young people, improves communities and reduces crime”