New awards celebrate '99 per cent' of young black Sheffielders doing good in community

New awards have been launched to highlight the achievements and hard work of young black people in Sheffield, which so often go unacknowledged.

Friday, 15th June 2018, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 8:52 am
The founders of the ADIRA Young Black & Gifted Awards, and the young people supporting them

The ADIRA Young Black & Gifted Awards are an attempt to set the record straight, say their founders, in the face of unfair media portrayals fuelling negative stereotypes.

Too often, they argue, young black people only make the news when they are involved in shootings or stabbings, giving the misleading impression they are all embroiled in crime.

The founders of the ADIRA Young Black & Gifted Awards, and the young people supporting them

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The awards are the brainchild of Ursula Myrie, who set up ADIRA to support people with mental health problems and challenge the stigma she says continues to surround the condition within the black community.

"The media are so focused on highlighting the negative behaviour of young black people who are involved in gun and knife crime," said the 45-year-old mother-of-two.

"We want to switch the focus to them with these awards, proving that what they're doing is appreciated and encouraging them to stick at it, while showing the tiny minority who are involved in gangs what they could achieve if they change their ways."

The idea was inspired by her experiences as a mother, where she found that if one daughter was being good and the other acting up the naughty one would get all the attention, meaning there was little incentive for the obedient child to keep behaving well.

"Sometimes it's easy to set the bar too high, so we want to make sure the young people who may suffer setbacks but keep trying aren't forgotten, like someone who might have failed an exam three times times but doesn't stop studying hard for the next attempt," said Ms Myrie.

Christopher Luteke is the sort of person for whom the awards were created.

The 21-year-old middleweight boxer from Wybourn is a five-time national champion who dreams of making the next Olympics, but for all his success he is no stranger to disappointment.

He lost the fight which would have taken him to this year's Commonwealth Games, but he refused to let that knock back deter him from his goal of reaching the pinnacle of his sport.

"I think these awards are a great idea because we usually focus too much on the negative, even though there are far more young black people doing positive things," he said.

Young black people are helping promote the awards, creating and distributing the flyer and spreading the word via social media.

Among them is Maria Walker, a 22-year-old student from Southey Hill.

"The only picture you see of us in the media is a very negative one, of people involved with knives and guns, and it's a stereotype which follows us everywhere we go," she said.

"But that's just one per cent of the story and we hope these awards will help us paint a different narrative of who we are within the community, showing the reality that 99 per cent of us are behaving well and contributing positively to society."

The awards feature seven different categories, including sports, enterprise, culture and perseverance, and nominations are now open.

The deadline for entries is August 2, and the awards ceremony will take place at Niagara Conference and Leisure Centre in Hillsborough on Friday, October 19.

* You can pick up a nomination form from the locations listed below, or contact Ursula Myrie for more information by emailing [email protected] or calling 07761925938.

* Young Healthwatch Sheffield, The Circle, 33 Rockingham Lane, Sheffield S1 4FW

* Sheffield Mind, 110 Sharrow Lane, Sheffield S11 8AL

* Alicia Nang Hair and Beauty, 28 Snig Hill, Sheffield S3 8NB

* Jiggas Flavourlicious, 210-212 Cricket Inn Road, Sheffield S2 5AT

* Ma Ma Afro Ltd, 93 Firth Park Road, Sheffield S5 6WT

* Jerk Hut, 35 High Street, Sheffield S1 2GA