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.
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.