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 Young Heroes scheme continues to thrive

 13/02/2020

​A police scheme to recognise inspirational young people in one County Durham town has been so successful it is now being used across the whole force area.
 
The Young Heroes award was launched in Peterlee in 2017, to counteract an untruthful stereotype that branded all young people trouble-makers.
 
To shine a light on the good work young people do in their communities, the award set out to recognise youngsters who had displayed acts of kindness, bravery or something inspirational.
 
Nominations are submitted to the local neighbourhood policing team and every month, a winner is chosen and invited to their station to be presented with their award.
 
And since the awards were launched, almost 100 children across County Durham and Darlington have been recognised with their stories highlighting the positive impact they have on their communities.
 
Two recent examples include the bravery of 16-year-old Lydia Shale, who was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder when she was just 14.
 
The rare disorder meant Lydia lost the use of her legs and spent time in hospital where she had to learn to walk again with intensive physiotherapy.
 
However, Lydia was told there was no cure for her condition and was faced with having to ‘manage’ it with physiotherapy.
 
The youngster suffered another blow when she suddenly lost the use of an arm in the middle of a lesson at school but despite the obstacles, she decided to think positive and became a mental health ambassador for at school to help others too.
 
Another youngster recognised through the awards is 11-year-old Charli Hopper, who has been giving back to others in her community.
 
After being born with three holes in her heart and undergoing lifesaving open-heart surgery, Charli always knew she wanted to help others.
 
And from gifting old clothes to those in need to raising money for good causes through her Give Something Back Facebook page, Charli has brought a smile on the faces of people who are struggling.
 
During the long cold North East winter she even worked with a charity called Hope North East to collect sleeping bags, coats, toiletries and many other items to support homeless people in the region. Her appeal was so successful she needed a van to transport the items to the people who needed them.
 
Temporary Chief Inspector, Lee Blakelock, who launched the Young Heroes scheme in his former role as Peterlee inspector, said: “We originally set up the awards in Peterlee with the help of both Durham County and Peterlee Town Councils.
 
“We acknowledged these fantastic stories never saw the light of day because they were cast aside in favour of the negative stories.
 
“We would often hear of these amazing children whilst out on patrol or at an event and decided we needed to highlight them for what they are, inspirational and amazing members of the community.”
 
The awards are supported locally by many businesses and councils who love getting involved in spreading positivity around the community.
 
Stars from the world of pop and sport have also been involved in giving praise to our Young Heroes.
 
Women’s England football captain Steph Houghton and former Sunderland football captain George Honeyman sent video message to Peterlee winners along with Little Mix star Perrie Edwards and Heather Mills also giving the scheme their support last year.
 
T/Ch Insp Blakelock added: “All of these people, although celebrities, are local people. Proof that where ever you are from you can achieve great things.”
 
Whilst beginning in Peterlee, the scheme has been so successful that it’s been launched across each neighbourhood in the force so wherever you are you can nominate a young person under 18.
 
Nominations can be made by anyone but need to come through the respective policing area Facebook page or by speaking to a member of your local neighbourhood policing team.