The Reconnect Young Volunteer Award

For a young person (aged 18 or under) who has volunteered in their community and helped to support other children and young people.

Young Volunteer Award - Won by John Pond

John Pond receiving his Reconnect Young Volunteer Award.

John Pond receiving his Reconnect Young Volunteer Award.

John, who was 10 years old when the pandemic hit, suffers with autism, anxiety disorder and depression.

At the start of the pandemic, he tried to find services that support children with a disability. When there was nothing available, John set up a website to help children with autism understand the pandemic. John's website helps people with autism to manage their feelings and emotions and connects them with someone they can talk to. His project has evolved, and he now helps young people understand their autism diagnosis and their feelings around it. Following training (proivded by Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign), John is also an anti-bullying ambassador who helps people who are being bullied.

During the pandemic, he raised over £2,000 for children’s mental health charities, helping them to provide support to children who were mentally affected by COVID-19.

John has done all of this while he was undergoing severe depression, bullying and difficulties around his autism spectrum disorder, so that other children don't struggle like he did. It may not be a huge project, but he runs it himself and has helped several children who were lonely and isolated now feel they have friendships.