Schoolgirl Saleha Akhtar wins award in recognition of campaign work
A Croydon schoolgirl is delighted to have won an award in recognition of her work as a campaigner against human trafficking.
Saleha Akhtar who lives in Upper Norwood, won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) Shout Out! award, after using her position in Croydon Youth Council, to raise awareness of human trafficking among young people in the borough.
The 14-year-old was shocked to discover the levels of sexual exploitation in Croydon and wanted to increase the understanding of human trafficking as an international issue, and to ensure young people know how to report the crime.
She said: "When I found out about human trafficking it was quite overwhelming. I was quite surprised, so I created a questionnaire for young people to see what they knew.
"I also got in touch with Croydon Communities Against Trafficking and have been working with them to help promote their work in schools by holding workshops."
Saleha was nominated for the award by her youth worker, and was presented with a certificate at an awards ceremony hosted by Channel Four newsreader Jon Snow.
As part of her prize Saleha will receive one-to-one coaching sessions, shadowing opportunities, and undergo mentoring to help continue with her campaign.
Saleha, who attends Al-khair secondary school in Cherry Orchard Road, and hopes to study law said of the prize: "The training is great and also involves training with a journalist and politician, who will give advice on media tactics and making speeches."
Linda Butcher, Chief Executive of SMK said: "At a time when campaigners across the globe are taking action on issues they care about, it is extremely important to recognise the people who tackle the injustices and inequalities we face in our society.
"Saleha and our other winners do just that."