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YMCA Swansea Wins 5 National Awards including YMCA of the Year

YMCA Swansea achieved phenomenal success at the national Youth Matters Awards in London this weekend, winning 5 national awards, including YMCA of the Year.

Youth Matters is an annual event, which celebrates the achievements of young people, staff and volunteers from YMCAs across England and Wales. This year’s awards were held at the plush 8 Northumberland Avenue and were hosted by former BBC’s The Apprentice winner, Michelle Dewberry.

Shortlisted for 7 awards in total, more than any other of the 116 YMCAs in England and Wales, the night got off to a fantastic start as YMCA Swansea’s youngest trustee, Taylor Roberts (18 years old) received the Volunteer of the Year award.

This was followed shortly by the Young Achiever award, which was picked up by YMCA Swansea’s Sophia Zahra. Sophia has overcome great difficulty in her personal life to become an inspiring and pioneering leader for the young people she works with. She is also a passionate campaigner for mental health.

YMCA Swansea’s third award of the evening went to Geraint Turner who collected the prestigious Young Worker of the Year. Geraint’s tireless commitment to young people has seen him set up a youth club for isolated communities at the age of 16, which is still running 10 years later. He was responsible for ensuring the continuation of the Young Carers Service in Swansea when the service was under threat. Geraint quickly found a new home for the Young Carers Service at YMCA Swansea, which has prospered ever since.

YMCA Swansea staff Gergo Daroczi; Egija Cinovska; Sophia Zahra and Geraint Turner pictured at the Youth Matters Awards 2017

It was the Young Carers Service that took YMCA Swansea’s awards tally up to 4 for the evening when it was announced as Family Work Project of the Year. The Young Carers Service works with young people under the age of 18 who care for a family member affected by; a long-term illness, physical disability, mental health illness, or substance and alcohol use.

Young carers miss out on a lot of experiences and life opportunities due to their caring responsibilities. YMCA Swansea’s Young Carers Service provides vital support that aims to reduce the barriers to young carers development.

To top off a very successful evening at the Youth Matters Awards 2017, YMCA Swansea staved off competition from YMCA Suffolk and YMCA North Tyneside, two very noteworthy and deserved finalists, to win YMCA of the Year.

YMCA Swansea Chief Executive, Anne-Marie Rogan commented: “I am truly overcome by our achievements at the YMCA Youth Matters Awards.

“I have led this YMCA since 2007, and it has been a privilege to do so.  At times it has been difficult and it has not been without its challenges, but the inspiration of working with such wonderful, talented committed people, provides the fire to drive us forward to really change the world for the better.

“We have a truly magnificent team, who are talented and really genuinely care.  We will continue to do great things and help young people, it is part of who we are.”

Prior to the awards, YMCA Swansea’s pursuit of excellence to serve young people in Wales had seen them win many other national awards for governance, youth work, leadership and project delivery.

In the last year, they have supported 2,950 people to gain access to training and employment; 450 young people with protected characteristics to exercise their rights and make informed choices; launched a cross-county Young Carers Service, supported hundreds of young carers and their families; and developed a new project that reduces isolation amongst young people in both rural and urban areas.

The YMCA continues its commitment to LGBT youth work via the GoodVibes project, and has launched an LGBT schools programme raising awareness of equality in schools.

YMCA Swansea focuses on providing young people with a safe, supportive place where they can fulfil their potential so that they can belong, contribute and thrive in their community.


YMCA Swansea supports #IAMWHOLE campaign on World Mental Health Day

Mental health insults and stereotypes are part of everyday language

YMCA Swansea has joined forces with YMCAs across the UK and Ireland to support a major mental health campaign, as new research reveals the damaging effects of negative language and stereotypes about mental health.

Research from YMCA showed that ‘psycho’, ‘retard’ and ‘attention seeker’ were among the most commonly used words, as two thirds (66%) of young people who have seen or heard harmful words and negative stereotypes relating to mental health say it is simply part of everyday language.

More Than Words, published today on World Mental Health Day, as part of the YMCA and NHS #IAMWHOLE campaign, also showed that 44% of those who have heard or seen negative stereotypes did so on a weekly basis, with young people coming across an average of 33 different words and terms.

Researchers spoke to more than 2,000 11-24 year olds and found that even though nearly nine in ten (88%) young people who have come across stereotypes and negative words think they should be challenged, less than half (48%) have done so.

The damaging impact of harmful language is evident as more than half (55%) of young people who have been on the receiving end say it stops them from talking about their difficulties.

More Than Words has been launched as part of #IAMWHOLE’s 2017 activity, which is supported by high profile names including YouTuber, Zoella; former World Champion boxer, Ricky Hatton; TV presenters Matt Johnson, Anna Williamson; Soccer AM host, Lloyd Griffith and music artists including Professor Green and Ella Eyre.

#IAMWHOLE 2017 is being fronted by rock band, Nothing But Thieves – who have recorded an exclusive version of the title track from their hit album ‘Broken Machine’ to support the campaign, as well as last year’s campaign lead Jordan Stephens from Rizzle Kicks.
















In support of #IAMWHOLE 2017 YMCA Swansea is backing the campaign by running creative sessions with the young people they work with. Over the past week young people at YMCA Swansea have created artworks, written and recorded songs and filmed a dance performance challenging the mental health stereotypes and harmful language that is still a part of everyday language. Their work will be shared on YMCA Swansea’s website and social media profiles this week.

Anne Marie Rogan Chief Executive for YMCA Swansea said:

“Negative language surrounding mental health is so engrained into our everyday language it makes it almost impossible to tackle stigma if we don’t change the way we talk about people experiencing mental health difficulties.

“While everyone knows how damaging insults can be, it’s the more subtle elements of how we talk about the issue that really discourages young people from speaking out.

“Most of us use words unintentionally, not realising the damaging consequences of our comments. We need to start challenging people on the way they talk and also challenge ourselves. This is why we support the #IAMWHOLE campaign to help everyone better understand mental health and tackle stigma one word at the time.”

Natalie Waugh, Head of MyDonate, BT, said: 

“We are proud that YMCA and the NHS chose MyDonate. We are committed to responsible fundraising and as a commission-free platform there is greater transparency in knowing that more money will go to this charitable cause. Improving and championing mental health is something that’s always been important to us at BT. We are excited to support the first #IAMWHOLE fundraising campaign to make sure that even more young people get the help they deserve.”

 Other findings from the research report include:

  • More than four in five (81%) young people have heard negative words and stereotypes about mental health
  • 60% of young people said social media is where they most frequently saw negative words and stereotypes about mental health
  • 72% of those hearing or seeing negative language and stereotypes believe social media is the most common place for people pick these up
  • Only 30% of young people who have heard or seen stereotypes and negative language say they are used with the intent to cause harm, with the majority (79%) putting their use down to a lack of understanding about mental health.
  • 74% of young people who have heard and seen negative words and stereotypes say people must be educated about mental health to stop these, while 70% say talking about mental health will help tackle the issue.

Anyone who wants to get involved in the campaign can do so by posting an #IAMWHOLE selfie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and text ‘WHOLE’ to 70007 to donate £3 to YMCA to strengthen the circle of support available to young people.

For more information about #IAMWHOLE and this year’s campaign activity, visit www.whole.org.uk.


Prepare for World Mental Health Day with #IAMWHOLE

On Tuesday 10 October, World Mental Health Day 2017, the NHS, YMCA and young people from around the world will come together to challenge the stigma that is stopping individuals affected by mental health difficulties speaking out and seeking help.

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, World YMCA Secretary General, encouraged young people to get involved with the #IAMWHOLE campaign.

Ed Sheeran is a supporter of the I Am Whole Campaign

“Through our #IAMWHOLE campaign we are providing young people with a platform to speak out on the biggest health issue affecting them right now. Our very own One Million Voices research found that more than a third of young people are lacking the information they want and need on mental health.”

Poor mental health is costing more and more children and young people their education, their employment prospects and, without action, it is costing them their lives.

Help the NHS and YMCA make an impact in challenging the harmful language surrounding mental health.

You can prepare for World Mental Health Day in a number of ways:

  1. Sign up to the #IAMWHOLE Thunderclap campaign that will send out a single united message speaking out against mental health stigma on World Mental Health Day. (https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/62192-iamwhole-2017)
  2. On the day, Tuesday 10 October, post an #IAMWHOLE selfie (see below).
  3. Take part in our creative arts competition. Paint a self-portrait, write a poem, record a song or produce something creative that expresses an emotion, i.e. smiling, laughing, crying, sadness, etc.

The competition will launch on Tuesday 10 October and submissions should be received no later than Friday 20 October by either emailing iamwhole@ymca.org.uk or posting to: IAMWHOLE competition, YMCA England & Wales, 10-11 Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6EH. Submissions will be featured online and the winner will receive £100 (€100) vouchers. Full T&Cs can be found at www.ymca.org.uk/competitions.

How to take the #IAMWHOLE selfie

  1. Picking a thick coloured pen that you feel reflects your current feelings or state of mind.
  2. Draw the #IAMWHOLE circle on your left hand and hold it up to the camera, just like Ed Sheeran.
  3. Take a landscape photo and post it on Tuesday 10 October accompanied by some words about why you are supporting #IAMWHOLE, for example, “I’m speaking out against harmful language around mental health with the NHS/YMCA. Together, we are whole. #IAMWHOLE”



YMCA Swansea is calling its friends, colleagues and supporters to give them their backing following the news that they have been shortlisted for eight, prestigious national youth awards.

VOTE NOW: https://www.ymca.org.uk/about/awards

Our Support Worker Carlie, picked up the Young Worker of the Year award in 2016!

The young people’s charity, which celebrates its 150th birthday next year, is on course to win YMCA of the Year and several other top accolades at the Youth Matters Awards 2017, but must first battle it out in an online vote against other YMCAs.

The YMCAs with the most votes will make it through to the awards ceremony and judges panel in London later this autumn, which is to be hosted by Sky presenter and BBC’s The Apprentice winner, Michelle Dewberry.

Voting starts online at 2pm on Monday 14 August and runs until midnight on Friday 25 August. You can vote for YMCA Swansea HERE in a number of categories, including YMCA of the Year, Young Achiever of the Year, Young Campaigner of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year and Young Worker of the Year.

YMCA Swansea Chief executive Anne-Marie Rogan commented: “We are thrilled and overwhelmed to be nominated for so many prestigious awards and hope that everyone in the local community will vote for us.

“Young people are at the heart of everything we do, and these nominations are recognition of the hard work, commitment and passion shown by everyone at YMCA Swansea to make a difference to young people’s lives.”

Youth Matters is YMCA’s national awards programme, which celebrates the outstanding achievements of young people across England and Wales. It also recognises the vital work that YMCAs deliver every day to help transform the lives of young people and give them a brighter future.

YMCA Swansea’s full list of nominations is as follows: YMCA of the Year; Young Achiever (Sophia Zahra); Young Worker (Geraint Turner); Young Leader (Kit Barry); Young Campaigner (Gabe Cole); Best Project (YMCA Swansea Recording Studio); Best Project (YMCA Swansea Young Carers Project); and Young Volunteer (Taylor Roberts).

You can vote for YMCA Swansea HERE. There are also links on how to vote on YMCA Swansea’s Facebook and Twitter pages @ymcaswansea. Make sure to include the hashtag #YMA17


YMCA Swansea to host its first LGBT Pride Prom

YMCA Swansea will host its first LGBT Pride Prom this Friday 21st July at the theatre based in the YMCA building on The Kingsway.

The event takes place between 6 and 9pm and is free to young people between the ages of 14 and 25 who identify as LGBT.

There will be live music from local bands and musicians, including the very talented Daisy White. There will also be a number of awards up for grabs on the night, such as the Unicorn Award, which recognises a person who has reached a particular milestone in their life, overcoming adversity to achieve great things.

The Pride Prom has been organised by Natalie Hussey and Gabe Cole, two young people who regularly volunteer at YMCA Swansea and are both very active in supporting LGBT rights.

Natalie Hussey said: “We want Pride Prom to be an event that unites the LGBT community in Swansea, and celebrates individuality and individual success.

“It’s going to be a fantastic evening of music, food and glitz celebrating LGBT youth in Wales. It’s free to attend and people are encouraged to dress as they feel and be who they are.”

LGBT people between the ages of 14 – 25, who would like to attend Pride Prom, are encouraged to register their interest on eventbrite.co.uk


Welsh partnership joins pioneering programme to help Wales’s most disadvantaged young people to develop life changing digital skills

Almost £100,000 awarded to the Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA as part of Nominet Trust’s Digital Reach programme

Nominet Trust has awarded almost £100,000 to a partnership of four organisations, Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA, as part of its Digital Reach programme – a pioneering initiative developed to increase digital skills amongst some of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people.

The funding will be used to deliver My Digital Life, a project which will support some of the most disadvantaged and ‘hard to reach’ young people across Wales. It will work alongside them to improve their digital skills, confidence and self-esteem, using approaches that chime with their interests and needs.

The 2017 Basic Digital Skills report suggests that despite an overall increase in the number of UK adults who have gained basic digital skills, at least 3% (300,000) of those aged 15-24 are still being left behind. Nominet Trust’s research indicates that it is this group that is the most likely to be facing multiple forms of disadvantage. Digital Reach has been created in response to this national challenge by reimagining digital skills delivery to the hardest to reach young people in our society.

By harnessing the expertise of the Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau, GISDA and other leading UK youth organisations which have longstanding and trusted relationships with the most marginalised young people, Digital Reach intends to demonstrate how these organisations are perfectly placed to steer isolated young people towards positive futures.

Nominet Trust’s funding will enable the Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA to co-design and co-deliver sessions for small groups of young people which will help them develop digital skills beyond basic use of social media. Sessions could help young people to manage their money, search and apply for training and jobs, and life healthier lives.

Karen Lewis, Director of Communities and Inclusion at the Wales Co-operative Centre, stated:

“The Wales Co-operative Centre welcomes the prospect of working with both our partners in Wales and the Nominet Trust to meet this challenge and begin to make an impact in this critical area of work. This is a fantastic opportunity to work with vulnerable young people to help them become more digitally confident and develop their understanding of the opportunities that the Internet offers them.”

Vicki Hearn, Director, Nominet Trust, said:

“Nominet Trust is delighted to be supporting this joint initiative involving the Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA. Digital Reach funding will enable them to reach out to 375 of the hardest to reach young people across Wales, offering the opportunity to gain crucial digital skills as an integral part of their life skills programmes. We believe this pilot will demonstrate the potential of this approach to achieve impact at scale.”

My Digital Life is one of six initiatives (involving twelve different organisations) chosen by Nominet Trust after a rigorous selection process to be involved in developing and implementing pilots over the next nine months. The other participants are: Action for Children; Carers Trust; Home-Start and #techmums; The Children’s Society and City & Guilds Group; and UK Youth. In total, the pilots will initially aim to engage with 4,000 of those on the wrong side of the digital divide; the effectiveness of models to scale will also be evaluated, allowing more young people to be reached in the future.




YMCA Swansea trustee wins top accolade

YMCA Swansea Deputy Chair Trustee, Phil Treseder, picked up a top accolade at the Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards in Cardiff recently.

Phil received the ‘Trustee of the Year’ award for his outstanding commitment and the impact he has made to YMCA Swansea during the past ten years.

The Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards were set up by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action in 2004 to shine the spotlight on the incredible people in Wales who help their communities in all sorts of remarkable ways.

Phil’s extensive experience in the youth work and children’s rights sector, led him to taking up the role of Chair Trustee at YMCA Swansea in 2007. Since then Phil has worked one full day a week, every week at YMCA, whilst balancing a career at Swansea Museum and working as a funding consultant.

During recent economically difficult times, Phil’s skills and knowledge have been fundamental in winning funding applications to establish new projects. This has ensured that YMCA Swansea continues to support the most vulnerable community groups.

In 2016, YMCA Swansea were winners in the Youth Work Excellence Awards and WCVA’s Best Governance Awards, both of which would not have been possible without Phil’s infinite support and mentoring.

His passion for giving young people a voice has often seen Phil running young people’s consultation events at YMCA Swansea, tackling a range of issues.

YMCA Swansea Chief Executive Officer, Anne-Marie Rogan, said: “We are delighted for Phil as this award is true recognition for everything he has done for YMCA Swansea.

“With Phil’s leadership and support, we are the first YMCA in Wales that has built a Pan-Wales portfolio of projects and has participated in European and global youth projects.

“Our services at YMCA Swansea are increasing each and every year and this is because we have volunteer trustee’s like Phil who bring innovative ideas and dedicate their time and passion into the YMCA.

“Our turnover and number of employees have grown considerably during Phil’s tenure, which means we continue to help and change the lives of more and more people each year.”

Phil has helped to attract like-minded organisations to work from the YMCA building, making it a central hub for support services in Swansea. He’s also in the process of planning a refurbishment project to ensure the longevity of the building, which has been providing support services in Swansea for 150 years.

Phil Treseder said: “I am shocked and humbled to win this award, but proud of the recognition for YMCA Swansea. I have been a trustee for ten years now, and I still continued to be inspired by the first class work undertaken by all the staff and volunteers.”


Musical Routes success for YMCA participants

A Project established by Swansea City Opera to explore and celebrate migration and cultural heritage in the city, was commemorated at an event this week at Swansea’s Waterfront Museum.

YMCA Swansea has been working alongside Swansea City Opera and many of the city’s migrants as part of the ‘Musical Routes’ project.

The event at Waterfront Museum was the culmination of a year’s work where YMCA Swansea has supported many of the city’s migrants to learn a range of musical instruments, and compose songs and music about their culture and heritage. Other organisations involved in the project include Chinese Community Co-operative Centre, Unity and Diversity, and Africa Community Centre.

Throughout the duration of the project, YMCA Swansea’s Music Youth Support Officer, Gergo Daroczi, along with volunteers Yotin Wallace and Ify Iwobi, taught participants to play instruments including piano, drums and guitar, to enable them to share ‘their story’ through their own compositions.

Participants performed their music at the event at the Waterfront Museum this week, which included melodies, rhythms and influences from their cultural heritage that have been fused together through shared experiences during the project.

One of YMCA Swansea’s participants from the Musical Routes project said: “We all had such a good time. Without this project and your help we wouldn’t have had the confidence to go on stage, but we tried our best and really want to learn more. Now we are more comfortable and happy to try new things.’’

YMCA Swansea works with the most difficult-to-engage young people in Swansea and nearby cities. The recording studio at YMCA’s Swansea base focuses on using music as an engagement tool to upskill, motivate and help young people through hard times. YMCA Swansea offers instrument tuition, vocal training, band recording and support in writing songs and forming bands.


YMCA Chief Executive shortlisted for Leader of the Year award

YMCA Swansea’s Chief Executive Officer, Anne-Marie Rogan, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Womenspire Awards 2017.

Established by Chwarae Teg, Wales’ leading gender equality charity, the Womenspire Awards recognises women for every aspect of life, from personal achievements to outstanding contribution. They showcase the remarkable accomplishments of women across Wales, with the aim of inspiring future generations.

Anne-Marie has been shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Leader of the Year’ category for her outstanding work with YMCA Swansea. The awards ceremony will take place at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on Wednesday June 21st 2017.

Anne-Marie said: “I am thrilled to be a finalist in the Womenspire Awards 2017 alongside many fabulous, inspiring women from across Wales.”

There are thirteen award categories, which include Champion of the Year; Leader of the Year; Game Changer of the Year; Woman in the Creative Sector; Rising Star; Community Activist of the Year; Woman in the Rural Economy; Woman in Business/Enterprise; STEM/pioneer; Woman in Education; Learner of the Year; Man of the Year; Employer of the Year.

Tickets for the awards ceremony on Wednesday 21st June can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/2pvLjpa


YMCA Swansea Volunteer & LGBT Advocate Wins Young Person of the Year, UK Youth Award

Sol Campbell, Nigel Mansell CBE and The Minister of Civil Society joined the high-profile judging panel to select the winner of this years UK Youth Awards this week. Gabriel Cole, aged 21 from Swansea was awarded the prestigious Young Person of the Year Award. Gabe, an LBGT+ and hate crime awareness advocate has overcome his own gender and sexuality challenges to now support and inspire others to be strong, independent, and brave. The finalists were invited to an exclusive reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by UK Youth’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. Gabe was also awarded grant funding and mentoring to continue his positive journey.


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