Youth volunteers Alice McKee and Michael Young have been named as Stonewall Young Campaigners of the Year 2014 for their work to improve the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The annual Youth Awards saw Sir Ian McKellan presenting awards to individuals who have helped to promote equality across Britain.

18-year-old Alice McKee from Kent impressed the judges with the breadth of her campaigning activities, which included setting up a website that links local schools’ LGBTQ student societies. Alice said: ‘Taking part in the Youth Volunteering Programme has enabled me to see how homophobia and transphobia affects a whole range of people, which has given me the motivation to make change happen faster. Stonewall has helped me to believe that this change can actually be achieved.’

21-year-old Michael Young from Newcastle was recognised for his commitment to highlighting the need for more work to be done in the fight against homophobic bullying in his local area. He carried out research and spoke to over 100 school pupils and teachers before producing a report with recommendations to help a local school and college. Michael said: ‘To be recognised for my work as a Stonewall young volunteer is very rewarding, as not only is the work that Stonewall does very important to me, it is also very inspiring to know that I have been involved with other young people to change attitudes. I feel really proud of this achievement.’

The free six-month Youth Volunteering Programme, which is supported by Lloyds Banking Group, was first launched in 2009 and has helped hundreds of young people develop and run campaigns to tackle homophobia. Stonewall’s Head of Education, Luke Tryl said: ‘Over the past six months this group of Youth Volunteers have challenged the idea that homophobic bullying is a fact of school life. Across Britain they have run campaigns which have reached over 10,000 of their classmates and inspired a new wave of young people to take action against homophobia. We’ve been overwhelmed by their passion, drive and creativity, and are hugely grateful for the support of Lloyds Banking Group who make their campaigns possible.’