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12 outstanding young people from Carefree are recognised in 2017 Diana Award Roll of Honour

A group of peer mentors from Carefree are among 750 outstanding young people from across the UK and the world who have been recognised in the 2017 Roll of Honour released by The Diana Award.

The Diana Award, set up 20 years in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better, is given to young people who are going above and beyond in their daily lives to create and sustain positive change and are selflessly transforming the lives of others.

The 12 peer mentors from Cornish charity Carefree join outstanding young people from every region in the UK and USA, Canada, UAE, India, Belize, Australia, Greece, Indonesia, Croatia, Liberia, Jersey, New Zealand, Indonesia and Liberia in being named in this year’s Roll of Honour.

Announcing the Roll of Honour, Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award said “We are delighted to celebrate these young people for their selfless contribution to society, their courage and bravery, sometimes in the face of adversity. ”

The nomination for the Carefree Peer Mentors praises them for using their experience of living in care to help other young people living in care : “The Peer Mentors use their experience of living in care to help others through educational activities and by offering support and guidance during challenging aspects of their lives. They take on positions of leadership, facilitate activities and ensure that the young people have the best possible experience from the service provided at Carefree. The Peer Mentors act as positive role models to their peers, including by modelling appropriate behaviour. “

Explaining that one of the key aims of Carefree is to give young people in and leaving care the chance to do things for themselves and others, Chief Executive Mari Eggins said”’I am delighted, but not surprised, that our peer mentors have won this award in the year marking the 20th anniversary since Princess Diana died. Peer mentors show the rest of the world that young people in and leaving care are positive young people who despite their adverse beginnings, are able to support and help others.”

Sally Hawken, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Wellbeing, said “Carefree are a hugely important part of making things right for young people leaving care in Cornwall, so it’s wonderful to see the hard work of their peer mentors being recognised with a national award”.

The Peer Mentors at Carefree give up their time voluntarily to support other young people who are in care who may be going through similar experiences. Any young person in care who is over 14 can express an interest in becoming a peer mentor, with many saying that the reason they volunteered was that, having been inspired by peer mentors who have helped them in the past , they wanted to do the same for others.

“I remember being on a walk with Carefree and I was finding it hard to walk, a peer mentor was there, and quite a big group, and everyone was just – they all sat with me, they didn’t just carry on and leave me behind, it’s like you have your own family there with you” said one Peer Mentor. “That’s when I decided I wanted to help others”.” Another Peer Mentor added “You feel like you’re not alone…it always helps knowing that you’re not the only one, I wanted to let others know this, that’s why I volunteer.”

Anyone invited to take part in the training must already be actively involved in Carefree activities and demonstrate that they have an awareness (or beginnings of awareness ) of others, are able to support them, show empathy and to take on more of a leadership role within the activities and social time around them.

“Having this potential is a key part of being chosen to start training, alongside an understanding of the positive support that peer mentors can offer to young people” said Mari Eggins. “But most importantly, it is that they have expressed that they want to do it and are prepared to commit the time to the training, learning about themselves and others and then going on to volunteer as a peer mentor throughout Carefree’s programme.”

As well as receiving their prestigious award, the youngsters, all aged between 15 and 18, will also have the opportunity to take part in specialized training through the Diana Award Network Programme.

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