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Tough times pave the way for Redbridge teen’s Young Citizen Award nomination

PUBLISHED: 11:47 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:38 17 March 2016

Valentines School has nominated three pupils for theYoung Citizens Awards.
Sophie Marlow

Valentines School has nominated three pupils for theYoung Citizens Awards. Sophie Marlow

Archant

When a teenager’s childhood home was threatened with repossession she vowed to use the experience to help others despite the world she knew crumbling around her.

Young Citizen Award nominee Sophie Marlow, at Fire Cadets training. Photo: Ian MarlowYoung Citizen Award nominee Sophie Marlow, at Fire Cadets training. Photo: Ian Marlow

Life was going well for Sophie Marlow, 15, until her mum, a lawyer, lost her job and the company her father, a health and safety manager, worked for went bust.

“We had to claim benefits but it wasn’t enough. I have two sisters and it was hard to feed the family,” she said.

The family’s church lent a helping hand.

“We didn’t have enough money to buy food weekly,” said Sophie. “So the church brought food down.”

The generous members of Jubilee Church in Granville Road, Ilford, so inspired the teenager she began to volunteer.

“I started last year,” she said. “Giving food to people is quite interesting, they all have different stories and I get to understand how they get through it.

“I help at the night cafe [at the church] and make food and give it to them. I make soup, toast and pasta.

“I feel really happy helping. Stories that people are rude are not true, a lot of them are not, they are happy and grateful and that makes me happy.”

The 14-year-old’s helping hand does not end there, also a London Fire Brigade cadet she took part in “Unified Response” - the biggest protection training exercise involving all emergency response units.

The event was based on a significant building collapse, incorporating heavy transport and mass casualties at four separate venues in central and south east London and near the Dartford river crossing.

Sophie, who donated her time and played one of the casualties, said the exercise was fun.

It was this optimistic attitude that led her form tutor Lisa Shelley to nominate her for a Young Citizen Award.

“I was shocked to be nominated,” she said. “To me it is something that I should have done. I’m in Year 10 now and studying for my GCSE and try to help as much as possible.”

Mum Debra said: “We would never have managed without the foodbank and the children became really interested in people who were homeless.

“They would now go to the ends of the earth to ensure they give back.

She added: “They are amazing human beings and they make me very proud.”


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