A VOLUNTEER dedicated to giving back to the community which looked after him when he was a teenager has ensured Bolton's young people are supported during lockdown.

For five years Daniel Sukula has been running the community interest company Be the Best, which offers a range of activities to those aged 11-25.

As a teenager Daniel made a 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 hit hard by a civil war.

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

Although 2020 was a tough year for Be the Best, its 30 volunteers rose to the challenge delivering sessions virtually.

In January this year it helped over 500 young people, and provided 150 hours of activities and mentoring sessions.

Daniel, 31, said: "Lockdown has been really difficult for young people, they're having to balance home learning with being isolated at home and not being able to get out.

"Usually we run outdoor activities and things like football and boxing, but we've had to provide different activities virtually.

"The virtual groups have been going really well, we offer different activities over Zoom including dance and fitness sessions, as well as one to one mentoring.

"During the pandemic we've also organised small volunteering groups at the food bank Urban Outreach sorting out food parcels.

"That's helped to give young people something to do and provide them with work experience."

When he was younger Daniel became involved with a bad crowd, but after one of his friends was stabbed he knew he had to make a change.

His personal experience is a huge motivation behind the project.

Daniel added: "It's open to all young people from 11-25, it was important for me to continue offering support to those over 21, as that was a crucial age for me - you need that help as you enter adulthood.

"What helped me to turn my life around was having a purpose and knowing who I was.

"When my friend was stabbed I knew I needed to get out. I knew I needed to help others who were in that situation.

"We've focused hard on having a strong social media presence and we always offer support 24/7.

"Anyone can get in touch and be involved.

"Last year was really tough, but we managed to adapt to the current climate and we didn't let it stop us.’

Contact bethebestcic@gmail.com or search @bethebestcic on Instagram.