1833. Sophie Simpson
1834. Serena Johnson
Sophie Simpson and Serena Johnson, from Huddersfield, founded ‘Conscious Youth’, a social enterprise which has worked with over 9,000 young people across Kirklees in West Yorkshire and engaged them in youth and community projects to help enhance their emotional and mental resilience.
Sophie, an experienced youth worker, and Serena, a qualified youth and community practitioner, set up the social enterprise in 2016 with the aim of creating an organisation that challenges social inequalities by creating opportunities for young people to make a positive difference in their communities. ‘Conscious Youth’ in particular aims to reach out to young people from BAME backgrounds, by designing initiatives such as their “Back to our roots” programme of cultural heritage events and activities, which is led by a steering group of young people of African and Caribbean heritage. The project aims to engage the wider community and improve cultural understanding. The organisation has also recently partnered with Amazon’s ‘Black Employee Network’ on a range of projects and workshops, such as entrepreneur workshops, as well as providing access to technology education programmes. During lockdown, Sophie and Serena launched a virtual youth club, ‘Youth Central’, to help 12-19 year-olds connect during the pandemic, hosting live and recorded sessions, live chat and online activities.
In a personal letter to Sophie, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Through ‘Conscious Youth’ you have helped thousands of young people gain skills, acquire confidence and raise their aspirations.
“It is clear that many young people have suffered from the necessary restrictions of the pandemic. So I am delighted to know that you are doing everything you can do to transform the lives of young people for the better.”
In a personal letter to Serena, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to learn of ‘Conscious Youth’ and the enormous scale of your work to help young people. From confidence building workshops, to partnerships with business to offer work experience, you have helped thousands of young people in Yorkshire alone.
“It is fantastic to hear of the volunteering opportunities you also organise for young people, helping them to make a difference and feel pride in their communities.”
Sophie and Serena said:
“It is such a privilege and honour for us to be recognised for this award. So thank you for the recognition.
“We are passionate about giving young people a platform and a voice to support them to reach their potential and break down barriers that they face on a daily basis.
“We are also grateful to all our fundraisers and supporters, without whom, we couldn’t provide opportunities for young people to make a positive difference to their lives and communities.”