A pair of Ramsey teenagers were named Cambridgeshire’s Young People of the Year or ‘YOPEY’ winners. ‘YOPEYs’ are Oscars for young people who give to others.
Corben Russell, of Great Whyte, and Tiffany Baldwin, of Fellowes Drive, won the Junior YOPEY prize of £300 in the KISS Communications Young People of the Year, held at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.
Corben read on social media that many young people in his home town of Ramsey were engaged in anti-social behaviour and that this reflected badly on all youngsters in the area. Then Corben saw a group of boys taunting a pensioner in a sheltered housing scheme in the town and he knew something had to be done.
Corben discussed this with friend Tiffany Baldwin and they came up with their ‘Connecting the Community’ project to bring the generations together. They presented the idea to most age groups at their school, Ramsey College, and recruited 30 volunteers, including older sixth-formers and a few adults.
They go along to Jones Court sheltered housing in Great Whyte and Ramsey Day Centre in Stocking Fen Road, both in their own and school time, and play board games with the old folk, make crafts, bake, swap tales, and even knit together.
The group is knitting squares which will form a large community blanket that will be auctioned off for the project and local good causes.
“It’s nice listening to the older folks,” said Corben. “They tell us stories about their lives and how the town was. They teach us skills. They have even taught me to knit and sew, I’m knitting some of the squares myself.
Corben said last night: “We want people to be at peace in the town. We don’t want all elderly people to think all youth are bad.”
Tiffany said their project also combatted loneliness. “It’s really valuable – it’s good to have links with others instead of feeling like you’re alone.”
The Bishop of Huntingdon, the Rt Revd David Thomson, who was on the YOPEY judging panel with mayors, MPs and young people from across Cambridgeshire, said: ”Corben and Tiffany have changed the youth culture of their town and the image of youngsters there in a way many would have regarded as impossible.”
Corben and Tiffany were presented with their £300 prize by Captain Victor Lucas, the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire. He said: ”This is a great idea that could be developed in a lot of other areas in our communities.”
Corben and Tiffany have donated £200 to community projects in Ramsey, leaving £50 each to treat themselves.
YOPEY founder Tony said: “This is the 10th year of YOPEYs in Cambridgeshire. We started out counteracting the unfair bad press young people receive. Today we like to think we are helping to create tomorrow’s great citizens today.
“At 14 years old Corben and Tiffany are already great citizens.”
The event was sponsored by Kiss Communications of Cambridge, Lifeplus Europe of Eaton Socon, Hutchinson of Wisbech, Spearhead International of Burwell, Cambridge Regional College, TTP Group of Melbourn and Cambridge companies ARM and Stratagem, and exams group Cambridge Assessment.