The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit played host to a virtual event on Tuesday, 15 December for the High Sheriff to award certificates to four outstanding young people from Rotherham.

High Sheriff, Carole O’Neill presented Devon Ferns, Emilia Ashton, Josh Newbold and Curtis Yip, with the prestigious awards after they were nominated by professionals from Rotherham Council and Rotherham United Community Sports Trust.

Josh was nominated as he stood out as a key member of the team when he participated in the NCS programme, particularly when his team were required to plan and deliver a social action project in their community. Josh is a team player and a great motivator to get everybody involved. He is passionate about the community and making a positive impact to people who need it the most. Josh and his team decided to raise money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. He has been volunteering for the hospice for over two years, both raising money and volunteering in the Hospice Charity shop. He has raised hundreds of pounds and passed on his inspiration to other young people around him to get involved with charity work.

Emilia has been involved with Rotherham Youth Cabinet for approximately eight years.  She has represented Rotherham Young People both locally and nationally as an elected Member of Youth Parliament.  Emilia has worked on numerous campaigns including anti-bullying, open water safety, mental health, anti-racism, body image, cultural awareness and knife crime.  More recently Emilia has created a range of social media campaigns to raise awareness of how to stay safe during Covid, sharing key messages and posting these across all Rotherham Youth Cabinet’s social media platforms.

Curtis was nominated after he was elected to represent Rotherham Youth Cabinet on a Regional level as Steering Group Representative.  He represents Rotherham young people on the Regional Youth Climate Assembly and has worked with other young people to develop an Environment and Climate Change Manifesto which they are planning to promote to both national and local government and organisations.  He has also been involved in creating a video to accompany a song written and performed by young people about the environment, to spread key messages around Climate Change.  Curtis has also been involved in the group’s Hate Crime campaign and has been fundamental in the development of films to raise awareness of discrimination and hate crime.

Devon was nominated after he designed a leaving custody information booklet for ex-offenders returning to Rotherham.  In addition, he has worked closely with Rotherham Youth Offending Team to offer insight into the service delivery, contributing to quality assurance processes to ensure that we are providing an effective service to young people.  He has worked also with RMBC services to produce a video about the benefits of Restorative Justice.

Carole O’Neill High Sheriff for South Yorkshire said: “It was a privilege to present the awards to the four nominated young people and to hear their enthusiasm and resilience when challenged.

“They all have a caring understanding of the community in Rotherham and how their work fits in nationally. They are truly a credit to the young people of Rotherham, South Yorkshire.”

The idea to recognise some of South Yorkshire’s remarkable young people came from when High Sheriff Carole O’Neill visited the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.  The High Sheriff would like to meet as many young people as possible during her one year in office.  Unfortunately due to the current Covid situation, all visits and presentations are being carried out virtually.

Rachel Staniforth, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “Wednesday evening’s event was a wonderful idea and one that we are very proud to be part of.  The young people are fantastic role models for others and I wish them all the best of luck for their future.”

The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit and the High Sheriff are looking for more young people in South Yorkshire that have achieved success in their own way and have made others proud.  If you would like to nominate a young person for an award, please contact the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit on