Shanea Kerry Oldham, 20, from Newham in East London, who is on a mission to build peace in her community, is the inspirational winner of this year’s Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland’s Young Citizen Peacemaker Award.
Having suffered the loss of a friend in 2017 to youth violence, Shanea vowed to do everything possible to make sure his life was not in vain and she wanted to make a change in her community.
The following year, a teenager was stabbed in her neighbourhood. She went to help him lying in the street and what she witnessed left a huge mark on her.
Shanea is determined to reduce the fear amongst teenagers on the streets. She founded Your Life More Life CIC, which creates safe spaces for young people impacted by serious youth violence and is a Youth Activism Coordinator for The 4Front project, a member-led youth organisation, which supports young people with experiences of violence and the criminal justice system to create change in their own lives, communities and society.
She said: “I’m really just hoping to serve the young people in our borough that are most marginalized, that are most excluded, most vulnerable. I want to support those with some of the highest needs and ensure that they have the love, the care, the support and empowerment that they need to thrive. That’s definitely the key goal.”
At Your Life More Life, Shanea is working to build a new system of community-based care for marginalised youth, that many label ‘hard to reach’, in Newham that focuses on empowerment, healing and holistic support. Your Life More Life is aspiring to develop a service that includes supporting young people via mentorship and help with housing, education, opportunities and advocacy.
I’m really just hoping to serve the young people in our borough that are most marginalized, that are most excluded, most vulnerable.”
Shanea has also co-designed and delivered a powerful youth activism fellowship programme for youth at The 4Front Project and she voices community issues and solutions through her activism and social action.
Whilst studying at St Bonaventures Sixth Form, she delivered support to young boys in the behaviour and inclusion unit. She then went on to co-chair the Newham Youth Commission focusing on youth violence and youth safety. Shanea also organised first aid training for her cohort at St Bons which resulted in 300+ more students across the borough accessing the same training.
Recently, Shanea has also completed the Social Ark CIO programme 2019-2020 as a young social entrepreneur from East London.
Stratford Rotary was so inspired by Shanea that they nominated her for the Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award 2021.
Shanea said: “I’m feeling really thankful to have won the Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award as peace is just such a big value of mine, it is a value that drives all of my work. It’s something that just means a lot to me, and this drives my vision for peace in my community, in society and in the world. And so, I’m feeling really honoured to have won this award.”
Not content with being concerned about knife crime in her neighbourhood, Shanea decided to do something about it.”
Shanea was presented with her Award at a Virtual Rotary Young Citizen Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC TV Presenter Ellie Crisell on Saturday. She received a trophy and certificate and £300 to go to her chosen charity or project from Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.
The President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Tom Griffin said: “Not content with being concerned about knife crime in her neighbourhood, Shanea decided to do something about it. She is a shining example of how ordinary people can contribute to peace and conflict resolution and can make a difference.”