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Local youth charity “proud” as members shine at Bristol Young Heroes Awards

Main image: The Youth Moves Youth Opinions group which won a Team Award. Picture Youth Moves.

Youth worker and resident Paul Coyne who won the prestigious High Sheriff’s Award. Picture Studio Duo. 

Local youth charity Youth Moves has spoken of its pride as a staff member and group of its young people were honoured at the Bristol Young Heroes Awards last week.

Youth worker and Knowle Wester Paul Coyne won the prestigious High Sheriff’s award. He was voted for by the Youth Opinions group which represents the voice of young people locally – and was itself given the Team Award. 

The accolades were received at black tie event held at the Bristol Harbour Hotel on Friday 15 July. 

The ceremony, run by Community of Purpose, celebrates young heroes aged 11-19 across the city. It aims to “shine a light on those who have overcome difficult circumstances, made a difference to the lives of others, or achieved something extraordinary.”

Paul was the only adult to achieve an award, for his work for over 20 years helping to improve the lives of young people in the South Bristol area. 

Picture Youth Moves.

He said: “What’s really nice is that the High Sheriff asked for Youth Opinions group to come up on stage. And who were all the young people who’d nominated me and funnily enough they were all wearing masks of me!

“I stood on stage and said, ‘You can’t be anybody without the people around you.’ And looked into the crowd and said, ‘You know, I’m here, but without you lot or without anybody else, I wouldn’t be.’

“I don’t do pomp and ceremony stuff usually, but it was really emotional for me…”

Youth Moves CEO Ali Dale said: “Paul and I started working together more than 20 years ago and across these last two decades he has been an absolute legend to work with and really deserves this recognition from the city and the High Sheriff. 

“Paul is one of those people who every community and team needs. He is always happy to do more if it is improving the lives of young people, always believes we can improve our offer, and builds great relationships with young people.”

Another huge achievement for Youth Moves was the fact the charity’s Youth Opinions group was the first ever group of young people to win the Team Award.

Youth Opinions started around eight years ago when it was identified that Youth Moves wanted to hear directly from young people themselves about issues.

The group now holds weekly sessions and helps local young people “to have a real say in the places where they live.”

They are also supported by the charity to develop the skills and confidence they need to take their views forward to decision makers, locally, city-wide and nationally.

Their role has included liaising with local politicians on policy, offering consultancy advise on youth violence across the region and distributing funding and grants to other young people and community groups in the Bristol area.

Head of Youth Work Denise Clifford who helped to create the group said: “They have worked so hard this year, and for Youth Moves to have such a strong youth voice in our organisation is an impressive achievement.”

Team member Macey said: “It felt like all of our hard work was worth it! I was so happy when we got called on stage it didn’t feel real, but now we can show people young peoples voices matter too!”

The Youth Opinions Group and Paul Coyne (centre) outside the Bristol Harbour Hotel on Corn Street where the ceremony took place. Picture Youth Moves.