Sheffield woman earns top award for helping hundreds of youngsters into education programmes

Helena Kielty.
Helena Kielty.
Have your say

A Sheffield woman who missed out on mainstream education has won a top award for helping hundreds of young people to realise their full potential.

Helena Kiely was brought up in an Irish Traveller family and left school aged 11 but she was determined to use her experience of being out of education to lead a project to help other youngsters to gain valuable skills.

The 28-year-old has worked tirelessly in recent years at Sheffield's Really NEET College, which supports young people not in employment, education or training to gain access to college courses and work placement schemes.

She has now been presented with the Influencer Award from the Young Women’s Trust, a charity supporting women aged 16 to 30 on low or no pay. Helena picked up the award

from Princess Alexandra in London on February 21.

Helena said: "It was huge surprise to hear I was nominated for the award and I certainly never expected I would win!"

Despite missing out on secondary school, Helena was determined to gain qualifications and went back into education aged 16. She then became the first member of her family to go to university, graduating in 2014 with a first class degree in youth and community work.

She has since been credited as a massive driver in the success of the programmes at Sheffield's Really NEET College and helped to engage with more 140 young people a year. She was made a joint director last year.