A YOUNG man who fulfilled his promise of giving back to the community who campaigned against his deportation has been nominated for a National Diversity Award.
Daniel Sukula from Bolton has been nominated for the Positive Role Model Award.
As a teenager, he made a heartfelt plea asking for help from the people of Bolton to stop him and his family from being deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo – a nation in the midst of a cruel civil war in which he feared he would be forced to become a child soldier.
Today, at the age of 29, he runs the Be The Best Community CIC youth project based in Great Lever.
He said: “I was inspired to set up the project because as a young man who grew up in Bolton, I have seen some realities of life faced by young people.”
The Sukula family, who came to the UK in 2002, was one of the first families in the UK to have all its benefits withdrawn after the Home Office refused their asylum case.
Following a campaign byThe Bolton News, his family were granted asylum when he was 15 years old.
He said: “The sole reason the family were granted asylum is because of the community. They stepped in like a family; they were present from the beginning until the end of the struggle.”
However, Mr Sukula was unable to pursue his dream of becoming a footballer when he grew up. He puts this failure down to a lack of guidance and encouragement.
He said: “The path I embraced led me away from both his dream and education. Indeed bad company corrupts good behaviour. At the time it seemed that I had two options.
“The first option was to wallow in my past and permit guilt, regret and anger to affect my future. The other option was to learn from my mistakes, share my experiences to inspire others and construct a better future. This option was to ensure that other young people did not make the same mistakes that I made. I understood that in accomplishing this, it will help inspire and change the life of many young people.”
The project helps young people to develop new skills, gain qualifications, apprenticeships and take part in activities such as dancing,music, boxing and football.
It currently works with more than 200 young people every week and has the support of many organisations in the area.
Together with project manager Tunde Olasupo, Mr Sukula is in the process of setting up a permanent hub for the youth group in Great Lever which is expected to open by the end of the year.
Mr Sukula has also created a knife prevention campaign called “Be The Change – Drop The Knife” which has received support from Bolton’s policing team.
He said: “Early intervention and prevention programmes are a proven way to change young people’s mindsets and ensure that they take positive pathways in life. Turning them away from crime and deterring from ever carrying a knife.”
The National Diversity Awards ceremony takes place in Liverpool on September 20. Shortlisted nominees will be announced in June.