Elizabeth Ascroft, 25, from Jarrow, has been named the winner of the ‘Voice’ category in the annual International Citizen Service (ICS) Photography Competition – seeing off competition from more than 300 photographers from 22 other countries around the world.
Elizabeth took the winning shot while volunteering in Zambia from September to December 2015. Elizabeth spent three months in Zambia, working on a project to improve local young people’s knowledge of good sexual health, in particular HIV and respectful relationships with VSO through the UK government funded ICS programme.
Recalling her time in Keembe (Northern Province), Elizabeth said: “The photo shows pupils taking part in our sexual harassment and early pregnancy campaign, which stood to open a conversation around underlying issues in the community. The young people we worked with were passionate about getting their voices heard and performed poetry, music, directed theatre pieces and traditional dances to draw a big audience.
“We also delivered lessons across three schools and the village clinic.”
Addressing her winning photo, Elizabeth said: “I love this photo because it reminds me that young people are the answer to creating social change. By recognising and valuing each voice, we had sparked something much more important; a new generation of inspired young change makers.”
The photo was chosen as the best in its category by a panel of three photography professionals and many of the 4000 online voters who helped choose the shortlist.
Since 2012 ICS has sent more than 300 young people from the North East to volunteer on projects abroad.
Elizabeth now works as a Community Engagement Coordinator for National Citizen Service (NCS), the voluntary personal and social development programme for 15-17 year olds, and added: “I think it’s so vital for young people to develop new skills through programmes like NCS and ICS.
“15-17 year olds can step out of their comfort zones with NCS during their summer holidays and, importantly, give back to their local communities.
“For those aged 18-25, ICS offers the chance to volunteer abroad. Both programmes look great on CVs and enable you to meet so many new people.”
Bookings are now open for the summer NCS programme. Visit www.NCSNORTHEAST.co.uk, or call 0191 247 4020.
To find out more about ICS, visit www.volunteerics.org.