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Lord Henley announced the winners of the 2011 Philip Lawrence Awards at an event at the House of Commons yesterday. The event celebrated the positive contribution young people are making in their communities, and discussed how this can help steer more young people away from crime.

The special occasion included a showcase of young people’s work from across the Philip Lawrence Awards Network and a panel discussion on ways of reaching out to more young people.

The Philip Lawrence Awards, managed by Nacro, celebrate the positive contribution groups of young people make in their communities to counter crime, violence, bullying and racism, and challenge negative stereotypes.

This year’s winners:

• Just Ask Nottingham (Nottingham)

• Mentality (Bristol)

• Reclaim Our Name (Manchester)

• Vale Youth Speak Up (Barry, Wales)

• Voices Against Violence (Scotland)

• Young Citizens (Lewisham, London)

Highly commended:

• Border Arts & Castlederg Youth Forum (Northern Ireland)

• Truth About Youth North East (Gateshead)

The event was hosted by two former Home Secretaries – Rt Hon David Blunkett and Lord Michael Howard – who have remained close supporters of the Awards

Speaking at the event Frances Lawrence, the Awards’ founder said:

“This year’s Awards celebrate young people who have taken it upon themselves to deal with really cutting edge issues. They are trying to find solutions to youth unemployment and to raise awareness of domestic violence, learning difficulties and mental health problems. In the aftermath of the summer riots, they are challenging stereotypes which all too often cast young people in a negative light. The passion, modesty and determination of our award winners shine through, as they help to build stronger and safer communities. They are wholly deserving of our thanks, support and admiration.”

Minister for Crime Prevention and Antisocial Behaviour Reduction Lord Henley said:

“The Philip Lawrence Awards recognise and celebrate the potential that exists in all young people.

“Through their energy and commitment, this year’s winners have all made a difference to their local communities and made them better and safer places to live.

“They are an example and inspiration to us all and an important reminder that the vast majority of young people make a positive contribution to society.”

Nacro Chief Executive, Paul McDowell, said:

“Nacro is delighted to be involved with the awards because, as this years’ winners show, they make an enormous difference in making communities safer and feel safer, and helping young people to fulfil their potential and build lives away from crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Liz Davidson from 2011 winning project Vale Youth Speak Up, expressed what winning an award means to them:

“To say we are overwhelmed with the recognition of a Philip Lawrence Award is an understatement. Vale Youth Speak Up is a group that has only been meeting for 2 years, and to have attracted such kudos in such a short space of time is incredible.

“This confidence has inspired us to continue our work with even greater enthusiasm and gusto.

“Thanks to the Vale Youth Service for encouraging us to apply to the Philip Lawrence Awards.”