Obi Williams is one of thousands of new graduates.
But whilst many young people were honoured for their hard work in the classroom, the 19-year-old was rewarded for devoting his time to others. Obi, of Furze Lane, Milton, took part in a programme which gave young people around the country the chance to make a difference in their communities.
The programme, run by national youth charity Vinspired, asked people to raise awareness of poverty, illiteracy and loneliness. Obi led a team of volunteers who collected 689 non-perishable food items, including rice and pasta, from churches, schools and community groups in Portsmouth, before donating them to Fareshare.
The organisation distributes food to homeless people and others in need. In a bid to get children interested in reading, Obi’s team went to schools across the city and read out stories they had wrote before acting them out.
They also encouraged children to take part in a creative writing competition run by Vinspired.
Then the team visited Alton Manor Care Home, in Herbert Road, Southsea, and put on a day of entertainment for elderly residents.
And all of Obi’s selfless actions paid off when he was presented with a certificate and £1,000 prize money at St Ermin’s Hotel in London last month.
Obi, who is studying law and international relations at the University of Portsmouth, signed up to the programme after the charity got in touch by e-mail.
He says: ‘I just felt it would be a great thing to do.
‘When you’re helping people at the time you don’t realise how much of a difference you’re making to their lives. Looking back now it’s overwhelming. I’m so proud to have been a part of Team V. It’s opened my eyes to problems that people face in the city. There’s a lot of struggle.
‘Hopefully this programme will show that young people aren’t all that bad.’
Obi has a history of helping others. Before he took part in the programme he went to Kenya and helped out at an orphanage as part of a two-week trip organised by the Sabach Trust, a children’s home in Kenya.
And Obi will use his prize money to fund a three-week trip to Thailand next week. During his time there he will teach in schools.
Obi, who is originally from Enfield, London, adds: ‘I would urge anyone to sign up to Team V. It’s changed my life. Working with older people was definitely one of the highlights.’ For more information visit vinspired.com/teamv