A university student and young refugee from Birmingham has been honoured with a prestigious award for her outstanding volunteering work with The Children’s Society.
Maya Ghazal, 19, from Perry Barr in Birmingham won an Asian Women of Achievement Award last week in the ‘young achiever’ category for her outstanding contribution to the charity and her volunteering work as a speaker and ambassador.
Maya has been a volunteer speaker for The Children’s Society for the last few years after arriving in the UK from Syria in 2015. She spoke no English when first arriving but received help to settle in the area and make new friends when she went along to the charity’s My Place project in Birmingham.
After receiving support from the charity and quickly learning fluent English Maya decided to give something back and started training as a volunteer speaker to spread the word and make others aware of the charity’s life-changing work.
Volunteer speakers use their skills and passion to reach out to different audiences in their communities, inspiring people about the charity’s work with children facing poverty, neglect or family crisis.
As well as giving numerous talks on behalf of The Children’s Society she has also stood up for young refugees and migrants across national media, putting herself and the issues young refugees face in the media spotlight.
Maya represented The Children’s Society in the Guardian’s Christmas appeal for child refugees. This campaign saw 17,500 people donate over £1.75 million to support child refugees. The £600,000 raised, the charity’s share of the total split with two other charities, will help keep its vital services for child refugees in the UK open.
Last year Maya also won a Diana Legacy Award – a national award for exceptional young people inspired by the late Princess Diana – presented to her by Princes William and Harry. She is currently at Brunel University studying Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies.
On receiving her Asian Women of Achievement Award Maya said: “It feels fantastic to have won this award! I would like to thank my family, friends and everyone who supported me from The Children’s Society, The Diana Award and UNHCR.
“I’m really proud of my work with The Children’s Society and also for standing up for young refugees and migrants who live in the UK. I hope from my win that whoever thinks there is no hope left or their life is turning upside down, that there will always be hope and a way to get out.”
The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed said: “We are thrilled that Maya has been recognised for her achievements and her volunteering work with us. We are so glad that after receiving help from The Children’s Society she went onto flourish and become a fantastic ambassador on our behalf. She is a true inspiration and so deserving of winning this award.
“It is down to volunteers like Maya that we are able to make a difference and continue to work with the most vulnerable children and young people in our society.”