Press Release: February 2011

Carlene Firmin has prioritised young people for years.

At 27, she is now the youngest black woman to receive an MBE. She has also been listed as one of Britain's top 35 most powerful women under 35 by GLAMOUR Magazine.

GLAMOUR's Features Director, Corrie Jackson, said: "Carlene really impressed us with her dedication – and, in particular, the fact that she has been so instrumental at such a young age. The brilliant and imaginative way she has tackled gang-affected women and girls should be applauded."

Yet winning awards is nothing new for her.

A recipient of a London Peace Award in 2008, at the age of 24, Carlene, through her work on ROTA's Building Bridges project, worked with young people to shed light on the complex issues of knife crime and violence.

Through that, she identified a gap in our understanding of the myriad ways girls and women were affected – sometimes directly, other times indirectly – by gang-associated violence. This insight led to the Female Voice in Violence (FVV) project – a two-phase study into the impact of serious youth violence and criminal gangs on women and girls. 

With the second FVV report set to launch on 22 March 2011, the awards are a timely reminder of the national importance of the issues Carlene has focused on for years. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Carlene said: "I am grateful and feel very privileged to be receiving the MBE award. It has been fantastic to see the impact my work has had on policy affecting girls' and women's issues and I am excited about what the future will hold."

ROTA CEO Elizabeth Henry said, "Carlene has worked at ROTA for more than 5 years. During this time we have had the privilege of supporting her inevitable growth and development.

Carlene has vigorously led ROTA's groundbreaking FVV programme, ensuring that the voices of women and girls affected by gang-associated violence and their needs are better and clearly understood. Her tireless efforts have been vital in shaping local and national policy and planning.

This much deserved recognition is a testament to the hard work and commitment that Carlene has applied in pioneering this little known issue.

Carlene is a credit to not only the women and girls she so fearlessly represents, but to women everywhere."

Carlene now works as an Assistant Director of Policy and Research (Youth Justice and Child Sexual Exploitation) at Barnardo's.