19th October 2017

Shaniqua Benjamin from the Croydon church has won the Young Achiever of the Year award at the Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards 2017. The award is given to a young person (aged 15-25) that has made an outstanding contribution to their community in Croydon and is helping to transform the lives of others.

The Civic Awards are an annual event which recognises exceptional people who are community heroes and are helping to make Croydon a brilliant place for people to live, visit, work and grow. To qualify for an award, one has to be nominated and after careful consideration by a panel, the nominees are whittled down to the finalists. Shaniqua was nominated by four different people. This year on Tuesday 17 October there were more than 200 nominations and Shaniqua was one of the two finalists in her category.

Shaniqua founded Young People Insight (YPI), a platform that gives a voice to young people. Through forum discussions, poetry nights and social events it encourages community engagement and empowers young people to achieve the changes they want to see. Her work has made a positive and lasting impact on Croydon.

Shaniqua has also featured on the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC2, when she was invited as a panellist prior to the last general election to discuss young people and politics. She was also the topic of an article in the Guardian newspaper which looked at her short film What Do You Say which focused on young people having a voice and making themselves heard.Mayor-of-Croydon-Civic-Awards-2017-174-Winner-07

Shaniqua has also been part of a European youth project called 'The Complete Freedom of Truth' which has enabled her to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bournemouth here in the UK and Italy to interact with young people from across Europe to develop creativity and discuss youth issues. As a result, she launched a pilot of the project in Croydon in August, which was attended by the Mayor, who was very impressed by Shaniqua’s hard work and passion for young people’s issues.

Shaniqua was presented with her award at a glittering ceremony on Tuesday evening.

[Godwin Benjamin]

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