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OnSide Awards winners featured on BBC Radio 5Live

23rd December 2019 by OnSide


Three of our OnSide Awards winners featured in a special OnSide Youth Zones hour-long feature on BBC Radio 5Live.

Joel, from Inspire Youth Zone in Chorley, Cindy, from Bolton Lands & Girls Club, and Fatima, from Blackburn Youth Zone all joined Nihal Arthanayake at the BBC’s Media City studios where they spoke about the awards at the Royal Albert Hall and how Youth Zones have helped them.

The incredible trio were all recognised at the glittering ceremony for their extraordinary contributions and told Nihal all about their journeys. You can watch the full video interview below or click here to listen and download via Soundcloud. Find out more about Joel, Cindy and Fatima below.

As well as the three amazing young people, Nihal also spoke to OnSide’s Director of Operations Jamie Masraff.


About Joel, Cindy and Fatima


Joel faced behavioural issues at school and was permanently excluded from the age of 12.

And while he began to face issues with his education, Joel later found himself in his later teens with many other negative influences in front of him.

Wisely though, he rejected them and signed up to Inspire Youth Zone for a more positive pathway where he has proven to be a brilliant member. It’s a pathway that has even led to a new career as a ski instructor following Inspire Youth Zone’s Snow Camp trip!

Joel’s remarkable journey led to him being presented with the Shining Star Award at the OnSide Awards.

Joel told Nihal: “Until Inspire Youth Zone, there was nothing to do (in Chorley). It was just sitting about on parks and stuff, but now the wholes area has started doing more and developed. A lot of my mates who don’t go end up doing all sorts of stuff.  It shouldn’t be typical but it is just typical stuff 16-18 year-olds do – mischievous stuff. Quite a lot is a bit dodgy. It has given me somewhere to go and get our of the way from it all.”

Click here to read more about Joel’s story.


Cindy arrived in the UK from Cameroon in 2014 and has shown that true resilience, hard work and bravery pays off by going on to become the UK under 21 female boxing champion.

The whole family was living in a three-bedroom house in Bolton and Cindy found herself wanting to get out and meet new people.

She ventured over to Bolton Lads & Girls club where her incredible journey began.

At the time, she was 16st and first attended the club’s boxing facility to lose weight and get fit but while there, and working with the trainers the club has, she unearthed an incredible talent and, if Cindy’s early bouts are anything to go by, a very promising boxing career.

She was awarded the Sports Award at the OnSide Awards.

Cindy told Nihal: “The best thing (about Bolton Lads & Girls Club) is the staff members. There are different kinds of staff members; different genders and age categories. For me, having the staff members there I had someone I could speak to about how I feel mentally and how I feel physically.”

Click here to read more about Cindy’s story.



Fatima is a member of Blackburn Youth Zone’s Strong Sisters project, which has allowed inspiration and empowerment of young girls, through exploring the heritage of successful women in history, particularly in Blackburn with Darwen.

The project encourages young girls to explore women’s voice, entrepreneurship and create positive social change; as well as explore their own heritage. In 2019 the girls researched and explored the work and legacies of prominent female figures, whom they have identified as ’empowering and influential’, including Barbara Castle, Kathleen Ferrier, Kate Hollern, Anne Frank and Malala Yousafzai. They have also launched a blog, documenting their work. The Strong Sisters come from diverse backgrounds, and have addressed and tackled barriers not only within their group but the wider community.

Because of their extraordinary commitment to their local community, the group won the Health & Wellbeing Award at the OnSide Awards which was presented bu none other than Prince Harry!

Fatima told Nihal: “For the first few weeks at the Youth Zone I didn’t really know what it was about. At that time, they were recruiting for members of Strong Sisters. We meet weekly and it’s about learning women around us, taking inspiration from women around us, implementing skills they have into our own lives to become Stronger Sisters. Blackburn Youth Zone has definitely allowed us to not only gather together but meet people from different backgrounds. Because I go to a faith school, it’s not always available to me. It’s really good for me outside of school to be able to meet people from different cultures and to talk or connect one way or another.”

Click here to read more about Strong Sisters.