WINCHESTER’S Youth member of Parliament (MP) Dev Sharma has been named volunteer of the year in the ‘Your UK Parliament Awards 2022’.

Sharma, a sixth-form pupil at Winchester College, has been awarded for his work on tackling junk-food advertising to children and young people.

The awards recognise people across the UK who have taken action on the issues they care about by engaging with the UK Parliament, with the winners chosen by a panel of MPs, Lords and independent judges.

Dev Sharma with Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Dev Sharma with the speaker of the UK House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

During the lockdown, Sharma noticed a marked increase in online advertising for junk food and takeaways, and he wanted to stop it.

He took action by writing to the secretary of state for health, urging the UK government to make policy changes to protect young people from adverts promoting unhealthy foods. He also launched an open letter calling for an end to this type of advertising and encouraged young people across the country to support it.

Last July, the UK government announced new regulations to introduce a 9 pm watershed for advertisements of foods with high fat, salt and sugar, which will come into force in 2023 end.

Sharma , who is Youth MP for West Hampshire, received his award from Sir Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons, in a ceremony hosted in the Speaker’s House at the Houses of Parliament on March 29.

“I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of the work of hundreds of young people that have made this possible,” Sharma said.

“It feels surreal to have won. It was a magical day being invited to the Palace of Westminster with my family.

“look forward to continuing my activism and aim to truly make a difference for all the youth of Hampshire whom I represent nationally as their youth MP. I pledge to continue to make sure that the youth are heard so we can help improve people’s lives,” he added.

Sharma dedicated the award to all the youth voices at Bite Back 2030 & The Food Foundation, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Act4Food Global, and the UK Youth Parliament.