A man who has inspired disadvantaged young people living in North Tyneside to bring about meaningful change in their lives and recognise their potential has received his MBE at Buckingham Palace.
Michael Burgess has been manager of the Phoenix Detached Youth Project since he helped to create it in 2004 and in recognition of his work, the trustees nominated him for the award.
The project is a registered charity within the voluntary sector in North Tyneside. It works with 13 to 25-year-olds in five main areas – Meadowell, Percy Main, East Howdon, Royal Quays and Chirton.
The young people that it works with come from places of high unemployment and poverty.
The team engages with them on their terms out on the streets, then assists them to make positive choices in areas such as employment, health, education and behaviour.
The trustees’ submission to the Cabinet Office included the following: ‘Mike is an inspiration to young people and other professionals working with young people.
‘He does not judge people and gives everyone a chance, whether they are the victim or the perpetrator. He has done work with young people in order to reconcile differences between young people in order to benefit and limit on-going conflict for the individuals and the wider community.
‘Mike is highly skilled in identifying and responding to young people’s needs in order to assist young people to identify themselves what their best and/or appropriate options for them are. He is brave, creative, original, responsive and courageous and will often work with young people who have been let down by others.
‘He thrives on thinking outside the box, doesn’t believe that anything impossible and is prepared to face the unknown and inspires others to do so alongside him.
‘The project works alongside the young people in setting their agenda for activities and pursuing their personal goals.
‘The fact that people have continued for many years to access the project is consistent proof that it is still meeting the needs of young people in the area.’