Novelist Juno Dawson presented the ‘Young Campaigner of the Year’ trophy to Ben Saunders from Merseyside at LGBT equality charity Stonewall’s Youth Awards, which took place last week.
The annual event marks the end of Stonewall’s Young Campaigners Programme, a free opportunity which spans six months and empowers young people to develop and run campaigns to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in their local area.
Ben Saunders aged 17, produced a powerful and moving short film featuring the voices of trans young people from across the North West. The documentary explores the experiences and challenges trans young people face at school and highlights the importance of other pupils learning about diverse LGBT identities.
Juno Dawson congratulated the young people on their important work to tackle anti-LGBT discrimination in their own schools and colleges.
Addressing the cohort, she said: ‘It is a huge privilege to meet so many passionate, driven young people who are standing up and creating positive change for those around them.
‘You are all making a real difference to the lives of LGBT young people in your communities and I’m delighted to help give these incredible achievements the celebration they deserve.’
Other attendees at the event included Mo Wiltshire Director of Education and Youth at Stonewall, Janet Pope Chief of Staff at Lloyds Banking Group, Stonewall Young Campaigner of the Year 2017 Jacob Edward and Louis Jameson of Lloyds Banking Group.
The young people on this year’s programme campaigned in a variety of ways across the country, carrying out activities such as running LGBT History Month events, delivering assemblies in their schools and producing awareness raising films.
This year 35 young people took part and each Young Campaigner was paired up with a mentor who supported them throughout. All mentors were from Lloyds Banking Group who once again kindly supported the programme and Youth Awards event.
Janet Pope, Chief of Staff and Group Director, Responsible Business & Inclusion and Group executive sponsor for sexual orientation & gender identity at Lloyds Banking Group, said: ‘Lloyds Banking Group is proud to sponsor Stonewall’s Young Persons Campaign which tackles homophobia, biphobia and transphobia across the UK and has reached over 75,000 young people in the last 5 years.
‘Today we welcome the campaigners and Stonewall to celebrate everything they have achieved striving to make our society not just inclusive, but welcoming to all.’
Stonewall’s Youth Programmes Manager Wayne Dhesi said: ‘We’re delighted to name Ben Saunders Stonewall’s 2019 Young Campaigner of the Year.
‘By producing a film that centres on the personal stories of trans young people, Ben has created an empowering resource that will educate allies and raise awareness of the issues faced by trans students at school.
‘We know that nearly half (45 per cent) of lesbian, gay, bi and trans pupils – including 64 per cent of trans students – are bullied for being LGBT. That’s why it’s so crucial that young people feel empowered to fight for equality in their local area.
‘Every young person who took part in this year’s programme has made an important contribution to building a world where all LGBT people are accepted without exception and I can’t wait to see where the future takes them.’
For more information about Stonewall’s Education and Youth Programmes visit www.stonewall.org.uk