How this award-winner juggles student nursing and volunteering, age 19

Lanai Collis-Phillips has been honoured with an award for her volunteering work

Lanai Collis-Phillips has been honoured with an award for her volunteering work - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

An Ipswich teenager pursuing a degree in children's nursing degree has won an award for her incredible volunteering work around domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual violence.

Lanai Collis-Phillips has achieved so much at such a young age, but is keen to do more alongside her studies at Birmingham City University.

The 19-year-old recently won a Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Young Citizen Award for her work with Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak Up (WASSUP).

She first began at age 14, when she got involved in a Volunteering Matters project run by Tonia Wilson who invited her to come and see what it would be like working with WASSUP.

She has since helped deliver 'Gang Grooming' workshops to more than 1,500 schoolchildren in Suffolk and was part of the presenting team for Crucial Crew showing children how to protect themselves and others.

19-year-old Lanai is studying a degree in children's nursing at Birmingham City University

19-year-old Lanai is studying a degree in children's nursing at Birmingham City University - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Lanai is the first young person in Suffolk to become a representative on the local safeguarding board and in 2019,  became an #iwill UK Ambassador for Youth Social Action.

She's also chaired a number of high level #iwill campaign meetings in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and chaired a discussion panel on growing up black in rural areas, as someone of Ghanaian and Irish heritage.

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"I came into it just thinking I'd see what it was like but it ended up becoming one of the biggest parts of my life," she said.

"Volunteering can be misrepresented and people might think it is a chore, but it was very different to what I expected and turned out to be hugely beneficial for me.

Lanai chaired a number of meetings in response to the Black Lives Matter movement last summer

Lanai chaired a number of meetings in response to the Black Lives Matter movement last summer - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

"It's amazing to be able to use my voice and feel heard and seen because for my whole life I and those around me have been impacted by racism.

"There's still a long way to go but Ipswich has become such a diverse community and projects like The Power of Stories are helping us tell our own story."

Lanai has encouraged other young people to get involved and says organisations need to make people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and abilities feel volunteering is something they can take part in.

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