A teenager from Luton was one of the big winners at the recent YOPEY awards.
Dominika Grzeszczak, of Tithe Road, won the Bedfordshire Senior award at the Atlas Young People of the Year final. She was awarded £400 for her chosen charity, Luton Victim Support, and £100 for herself, by Helen Nellis, the Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshiree.
The awards recognise the achievements of young people in Bedfordshire.
Dominika is a volunteer for Luton Victim Support, she listens to victims, gives emotional and practical support and helps people through to the other side of a traumatic event.
The nineteen-year-old, who came to England from Poland as a young child, said: “I have always been interested in helping people and have done work experience in a nursery and worked with young people with anger management issues with The Prince’s Trust.”
Dominika, who has just finished a three-year Public Services course at Central Bedfordshire College, in Dunstable, started volunteering for Victim Support while she was a student. She is currently supporting the victims of burglary, criminal damage, anti-social behaviour and hate crimes.
After winning the award, Dominika said: “I am a ‘people person’ and like to be out there talking to people and to win this award is fantastic. I did not think that it would happen to me. I am so delighted and I am very shocked to have won and so grateful. People within Victim Support have been helping me and I do not think that I would be the volunteer that I am without their help.At Victim Support I really feel we are helping these people to understand their feelings, move forward and feel safer. Helping someone get beyond the crime and tell you that they have got over it is so fulfilling. It makes me happy that I could help change someone’s life.”
Dominika is currently doing a volunteer training course for GreenHouse Mentoring, based at Stopsley, by mentoring young people with learning and behavioural difficulties and she hopes to have a career as a dental nurse.
Helen Nellis was one of nearly 50 judges, including mayors and MPs and young people who have taken part in past YOPEYs.
Helen said on behalf of the judges: “To be so young and yet be able to help those who have experienced extremely traumatising events, possibly the most traumatic events in their lives, is an amazing demonstration of maturity.”