Oliver Moores, from Chorley, was nominated for the award by children’s charity Barnardo’s. The 19-year-old has been volunteering for the past year with Barnardo’s at the Include Me 2 children’s centre in Preston. The charity’s Short Breaks service provides groups and activities on behalf of Lancashire County Council for children and young people with disabilities and additional needs in the Lancashire area.
Olly has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user and as a child was a previous service user himself at the Include Me 2 centre. For the past 18 months, Olly has also been a member of the Barnardo’s run POWAR participation group, which gives a voice to children with disabilities and special educational needs in Lancashire.
In September, Olly achieved his ambition of going to university, where he is currently studying at Edge Hill for a degree in business whilst living in supported accommodation, with aspirations of working to improve services for people with disabilities when he graduates.
Professor Christopher Dent from Edge Hill University, said: “Oliver is one of our first year students on our Business and Management degree programme. He is a truly inspirational person and has already made a huge impression on us here at Edge Hill University. Oliver is very positive and engaging with everyone he meets, and has shown an incredible dedication to his studies. He is normally the first to volunteer answers to questions in class and we think he is a natural leader.
“All his tutors believe that Oliver will go on to do great things, and he is already making a real positive difference to the lives of other people. We are so proud of him.”
Lorraine Moody, Team Manager at Barnardo’s who nominated Olly for the award, said: “We could not be happier for Olly with this highly deserved award win. Olly is such a fantastic and inspirational role model. Despite challenges he faces, he always wants to help others and make things better for them, through both his volunteering and participation work.
“Olly has built up great relationships with the young people he volunteers with and as one of their peers, has been able to gain an insight into some of their needs and triggers, which he shares with staff enabling us to enhance the service that we provide to these young people. Olly has achieved so much already and we look forward to seeing many more of his achievements in the future.”
As well as providing support to the children in the Short Break groups, Olly also gets involved in lots of activities, such as arts and crafts, baking and going on trips.
Olly said: “I feel so proud of myself for achieving this award. The best part about my volunteering is talking to the kids and young people about any issues they might be having, or just things in general, and seeing them grow as individuals. I get a lot from them. As I’m a similar age and have a disability, they know I understand how it feels to have a disability and so they really open up to me. It’s then important that I share this with staff so they can make their experience better and help support them more.
“I’m also really enjoying my course at uni, have made new friends and have lots of support with my everyday living, so I can really get involved.
“It’s been really important to me to be involved with the participation group, as it allows me to give a voice to disabled people that maybe can’t speak for themselves. Over the last 18 months I’ve given speeches to audiences and attended meetings with the Council, to help improve services for those with disabilities. It’s so empowering when we see the actions that come from the points we suggest.”
Olly was named as the winner of the Young Achiever award when he attended the Barnardo’s Excellence Awards event in London on 19 December 2019.
To learn more about the business and management courses available at Edge Hill University, visit the website.
For more information on Barnardo’s Short Breaks or Participation services in Lancashire, or to get involved in volunteering with one of Barnardo’s services, please contact the Include Me 2 Centre in Preston on 01772 629 470.