Angela’s inner-city crusade sees her named Manchester’s Women’s Champion
Published by Claire Tinston for IPB Communications in Housing and also in Communities
Angela Lawrence is named Manchester's Women's Champion
A Manchester woman who has devoted her life to helping young people in inner-city communities escape gang culture and make positive choices has been named the city’s ‘Women’s Champion’ for 2013.
Angela Lawrence has spent the past 20 years helping to raise the aspirations of young people, particularly in Moss Side and Hulme. She received her award at a ceremony at Manchester Town Hall.
A founder member of Mothers Against Violence, she was at the forefront of the community’s response to the upsurge in gun violence in the area in the late 80s and early 90s.
She was a regular visitor to Westminster to advise politicians on effective responses to gun and gang crime, and attended a closed meeting with Tony Blair to discuss ways of moving forward.
She founded her own not-for-profit organisation, Manchester Active Voices, in 2009 to provide training and mentoring for young people whose lives need turning around.
Most recently, she worked with City South Manchester Housing Trust to set up a mentoring programme to help young women who are at risk of exploitation by gang members.
The programme, delivered by former female gang members, is helping 35 young women find an escape route and the path to a safer, more fulfilling life.
The mum of three, who lives in Stretford, received her award from Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, at a ceremony held to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Angela, 48, said: “It was a huge honour, and totally unexpected. I just hope it inspires other people who want to make a positive change in their communities to have a go.
“All too often, we look to others to get things done. That’s human nature, I suppose. We never realise that we are actually capable of making a difference ourselves.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices in pursuing this path, and it hasn’t always been easy. But it was always what I wanted to do, and I’m really proud of what’s been achieved.
“Helping people who have made the wrong choices to get back on track and fulfill their potential is a pretty fantastic way to spend your working life. I’ve met hundreds of inspiring young people in the process, all of them with masses to offer our city.”
Angela was nominated for her award by City South Manchester Housing Trust.
Niall Power, Head of Regeneration for City South Manchester Housing Trust said: “We’ve been working with Angela for several years now, and she is one of the most inspiring and energetic people you will ever meet. What really stands out is the modesty with which she goes about her life-changing work. She never asks for or expects any fanfare – but truly deserves it.
“The work we are currently doing with Angela to help young women escape gang culture in Manchester is having a major impact on local lives.”
City South and Manchester Active Voices recently hosted a joint conference, funded by the Home Office Communities Against Gangs and Knives Fund, focusing on effective ways of helping young girls and women involved in youth violence. The event was an opportunity for delegates involved in youth work to hear from leading experts on the topic, and to speak to former gang members who are now acting as mentors to help others escape gang culture.