SIX teenagers who help run a unique telephone helpline for their peers have been nominated for a Gazette Pride in Our People award.
Keith Pohl, Camilla Gorard, Arjun Pillai, Ayla Estreich, Gala Garrod and Guy Ansah-Palmer were put forward by Kathy O'Connor, Youth 2 Youth's senior supervisor.
She said: "Encountering the team leaders at Y2Y has been an amazing experience and allowed me to get to know young people who demonstrate commitment and with their strong leadership qualities, they guide a team of volunteers through the process of supporting service users.
"The energy generated in the building during an evening of service at Youth2Youth is phenomenal and highly infectious. our team leaders listen, encourage, empathise and gently challenge as they model not only a mature approach but a good natured response to all aspects of their duties."
Youth2Youth, the first helpline of its kind in the UK, was launched in 1997 after Ealing Youth Counselling and Information Service and MIND in Ealing and Hounslow joined forces to set up a telephone helpline for 11 to 19-year-olds in Acton. It has since grown from a local to a national helpline dealing with problems from abuse and drugs to sexual problems and relationships.
Keith Pohl, 19, from Ealing who went to Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, said: "It was nice to be nominated. I have been doing this for one and a half years and it's great fun, a lot more rewarding than other charity work and has a greater social aspect. Some callers have had horrible experiences: one regular caller tried to overdose every week and there are a lot of abuse cases, but you just do your best and the supervisors are really good. It works because we have an affinity with our peers."
Camilla Gorard, 17, from Ealing who goes to Notting Hill and Ealing Hill School in Ealing, has been a volunteer for 18 months and is now team leader of six to eight people.
She said: "There are some hard cases like rape, sexual assault and abuse but these are mainly in emails which are easier to deal with. The regular callers are quite challenging but the important thing is to listen. You are not allowed to give advice. It has really opened my eyes to what goes on and how fortunate I am."
She said she was surprised to be nominated. Both youngsters are going to university to do medicine.