Twelve inspirational young people from some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Great Britain have been honoured for remarkable efforts in supporting their area at the Connecting Communities Awards at the House of Lords.

The Connecting Communities programme aims to inspire, engage and empower young people and their local neighbourhoods to take part in regular, fun activities.

The initiative is funded by People’s Health Trust - using money raised by society lotteries through The Health Lottery - and is delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.

The programme works in 12 areas of high disadvantage to create a network of local young people who feel inspired to undertake volunteering activity to benefit others in their community.

Over the last year, more than 400 young people have been involved in activities across Great Britain, delivering over 700 valuable sessions focused on building community cohesion. This has resulted in over 240,000 hours of volunteer time committed to communities.

All young leaders reported an increase in skills and confidence with 90% saying that they felt they had some influence in the community by helping to tackle problems faced by local residents and improving the health and wellbeing of the community.

Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said:

"I congratulate the 12 winners whose hard work has benefitted so many people in their local communities. This scheme is fantastic in encouraging young people to volunteer, helping to build leadership skills and self-confidence that they can take forward in life."

The 12 award winners honoured at the House of Lords are:

  • Brent: Melissa Desousa, aged 20
  • City of Hull: Courtney Cantrell, aged 17
  • Doncaster: Caitlin Griffith, aged 16
  • East Ayreshire: Reed Wyper, aged 17
  • Gedling: Rowell Hartley, aged 12
  • Hounslow: Jasmin Madhan, aged 14
  • Oldham: Courtney Shaw, aged 16
  • Sefton: Paul Wilson, aged 17
  • Slough: Lily May Speight, aged 13
  • Southwark: Laura Clarke, aged 30
  • Telford and Wrekin: Shannon Noon, aged 15
  • Tower Hamlets: Ayan Hassan, aged 17

The Awards were hosted by Youth Sport Trust Chair Baroness Sue Campbell, who praised the contribution of the 12 winners for their work in the community.

She said: “Congratulations to the 12 Connecting Communities winners. When the programme began, we were keen to inspire, engage and empower young people to take part in regular, structured and fun activities in their community. These 12 very special individuals have been at the heart of the programme’s success so it is important that we recognize their amazing work. I would also like to offer a personal thanks to the People’s Health Trust. It is through their support that Connecting Communities has been able to thrive.”

People’s Health Trust Chief Executive John Hume said: “To meet the young people involved in the Connecting Communities programme has been fantastic. Well done to today’s 12 winners whose incredible work shows just how much of a positive impact young people can have in their community. Youth Sport Trust has worked really hard to help the schools involved develop closer links with the wider community and it’s great that so many young people have been empowered to take part in the activities.”

Olympic Champion and Youth Sport Trust Ambassador Darren Campbell added: “It has been fantastic to celebrate the success of the 12 Connecting Communities winners and to hear their inspiring stories. Through their, passion, dedication and commitment, they have made a real impact in bringing their community closer together and they should all be very proud of their achievements.”


Notes to editors

Youth Sport Trust: Wellbeing. Leadership. Achievement.

The Youth Sport Trust is a national charity that is building a brighter future for young people through PE and sport. Through 20 years of experience we have developed a unique way of maximising the power of sport to grow young people, schools and communities through the development of qualities including creativity, aspiration, resilience and empathy.

Connecting Communities

People’s Health Trust has supported 12 local Connecting Communities projects – with a total investment of £450,000.

People's Health Trust is an independent charity investing in local communities to help create a society without health inequalities. It works closely with each Community Interest Company, distributing grants.

The Health Lottery is operated for and on behalf of 51 Community Interest Companies across England, Scotland and Wales, all holding society lottery licenses granted by the Gambling Commission.