HE was a young teen when he vowed to give back to the community which gave him sanctuary.

And Daniel Sukula has more than fulfilled his promise during lockdown, with his efforts to help the community through the pandemic receiving The High Sherriff Special Recognition Award.

Daniel is also in the running for two other awards.

The father-of-two was only a teenager when 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 the a cruel civil war in which he feared he would be forced to become a child soldier.

The community together with The Bolton News successfully campaigned on behalf of the family to stay in the town.

Now Daniel, aged 30, who lives in Great Lever, devotes himself to his family and ensuring young people get the opportunities he missed out on as a child.

Together with Tunde Olasupo, he started the community interest company Be the Best, in which young people were inspired to achieve their goals through arts, culture and sports. They were about to move into their new building when lockdown happened.

So the company turned its attention to providing much needed support during lockdown, with their work being described as inspirational by The High Sherriff of Greater Manchester Dr Eamonn O’Neal.

This has included establishing a safe online platform for young people to discuss any issues they were having, through the weekly talk show ‘Lockdown Live’, music sessions, quizzes and support on a one-to-one basis.

The letter from Dr O’Neal, accompanying the certificate stated: “You were able to adapt and redirect your energies just as your youth centre was about to open.

“Rather than sitting back and doing nothing, you set up digital programmes to help keep young people occupied at home.”

Daniel, who has just graduated with a degree in community development and youth studies, said: “It was surprise to receive this award. I think it was Greater Manchester Police who nominated me because I work with the police on issues like knife crime and visit schools.

“This award shows that someone has recognised what we are doing and it pushes you to do even more. I could not have achieved this award without the support of the team, we do this together."

He added: “I do this because there is so much talent in Bolton and I do no want young people to miss out on what I did when I was a child.

“Be the Best has links with organisations including football clubs which have given some of the young people trials ­— which was my dream when I younger.

“I received a lot of support from Bolton to be able to stay and grow up in the UK so I want to give something back to the community.”

He added: “Lockdown has been difficult for young people, it has affected their mental health, they have suffered from loneliness, they are bored so this is why we decided to do this.

“It is about empowering young people, showing them how they can do something positive and we have had a great response through the feedback.”

Daniel is also a finalist in Bolton Health and Wellbeing 2020 Awards and the National Diversity Awards 2020.

Be the Best has received funding from the National Lottery and Sports England and Daniel is hoping businesses and organisations in Bolton will also back him.

Anyone who can help should email Bethebestcc@gmail.com