Adele sitting in the UN

Adele Tondu – YMCA Thames Gateway

Adele is 18 years old and works for YMCATG part-time as a birthday party host. She enjoys working with children and regularly volunteers at a local charity shop. She is also passionate about politics.

Adele heard that YMCAE&W were looking for young people to attend a forum in parliament. This particularly appealed to Adele who would like to go on to study international politics at ULIP in Paris. She was lucky enough to be chosen and in September 2017 represented the YMCA in parliament.

In 2018 Adele was nominated for YMCA Youth Ambassador. She has since undergone PR training delivered by the BBC and regularly meets with with fellow ambassadors from around the UK which has helped her to develop her leadership skills.

Adele then attended two further youth forums in parliament; the first an introduction to legislation and the second the opportunity to meet MP’s and discuss issues affecting young people.

More recently Adele spotted an opportunity to attend a UN event and put herself forward. She produced a report outlining why she wanted to attend and her passion shone through. Adele attended the ECOSOC Forum at the UN in New York in April 2019. This was a two day event focusing on youth empowerment and engagement with the theme of promoting peaceful, inclusive societies and justice.

Adele thoroughly immersed herself in the forum; she met over 20 leaders from YMCAs from around the world, and putting her Youth Ambassador skills into practice introduced herself to the French Ambassador. Adele also delivered a session on the work that YMCA delivers locally and nationally and spoke out about why she felt is was important to ask young people what they want.

Adele is looking forward to volunteering at the YMCA 175 event in August and in the future intends to apply to be on the Youth Council.

Charlie outside YMCA

Charlie Smith – YMCA Norfolk

Charlie joined YMCA Norfolk as an engagement worker 4 years ago and her achievements have been wide and varied over this period of time. Charlie has been instrumental in growing and developing our Mind Matters team, always leading by example.

In 2017 Charlie completed the training for MHFA and through her dedication and hard work has driven the project forward from being grant dependant to predominately sales based. Charlie has delivered numerous mental health sessions to YP in schools, youth settings, YMCA residents and through outreach work across Norfolk. Through this targeted and universal work she has raised awareness of mental health issues and made strides to break down the stigma of mental health in many of the more challenging areas of Norfolk. Through her close working links with YMCA England & Wales she has imbedded the “I am Whole” Campaign and” Be Real” into a clear majority of the workshops and sessions; developing close links with other local charities and churches to grow her reach.

Charlie’s passion for the work has not stopped in Norfolk and in her role as Youth Ambassador for YMCA England & Wales she has travelled all over; delivering the positive mental health message. Charlie attended the YMCA conference in Switzerland and delivered a training session to other YMCA staff and Youth Ambassadors. In 2018 she delivered a powerful message in St Pauls Cathedral supporting YMCA England & Wales’ successful fundraising campaign.

Charlie completed her training as a new YMCA line manager, successfully completing her ILM level 3. She has supported and inspired her team throughout. More recently becoming a first-time mum she continues to volunteer her time to YMCA and recently visited YMCA St Paul’s Group to discuss our Mental Health work alongside other mental health advocates with Prince Harry. She is volunteering her time in June for YMCA 175.

Chloe Hobbs – YMCA Cardiff

Chloe is an amazing young person. She is part of the YMCA Young Carers Project in the Vale of Glamorgan. She joined the project 7 years ago and is involved in developing the Vale Young Carer Forum- AVAH and even created the name AVAH (All Voices Are Heard). She helps plans and organise the forum meetings, leads the forum every month and makes sure that all voices in the forum and the young carers voices are heard.

She leads the Reach Out Project and created the idea of youth homelessness essential hampers and ‘Survival Socks.’ In the Reach Out Project she organised meetings, dealt with a budget, managed a project and even encouraged more young people to join the project.

She is involved in the school panel, which is a group of young people from south east Wales that award schools with young carer awards that could be bronze, silver or gold. Chloe is an exceptional young person who is able to support and lead young people in the young carer community whilst still having a caring responsibility herself. She always puts everyone else before herself and makes sure everyone is getting the support they deserve as carers.


Lenny Rush – YMCA Essex

Lenny is one of our key youth volunteers, who actively engages our young people in the youth club ‘Connect’. Lenny goes above and beyond to ensure that the young people are kept safe and have fun. He will support the shyest of young people, in coming out of their shell and including them in a group game, like dodgeball. He makes sure he knows the young people by name and knows a little something personal about them too. Lenny brings such excitement and energy into the group, but also has a good listening ear to young people when needed. This balance truly inspires and motivates the group. He has volunteered in our team well, working in good partnership with different members of staff. He has ensured that every young person is heard and feels valued and accepted in the group.

Lenny’s dedication each week is unbelievable. Without fail, he is always there early to prepare for the session. He gives 100% from start to finish, each and every week.

Lenny is also an enthusiastic fundraiser for us. Recently he undertook a major personal challenge, raising money by doing a charity skydive! He was so enthusiastic and passionate about raising money for our Charity, to best support Young People reaching their full potential.


Sarah Daniels – YMCA Essex

Having come through the same kind of challenges many of our young people face, Sarah has always had a unique perspective to share with the young people and families she serves.

Her appointment at YMCA Essex provided her with her first managerial role as Deputy Manager for Youth Services (having come ‘through the ranks’). She has also been the Acting Manager when our service manager was unexpectedly unwell for a period of time.

Sarah’s role oversees 19 staff working with over 500 service users. She is a dedicated leader who always goes above and beyond to deliver the best support for her team, whilst also being an exemplary youth leader and family support worker to boot.

In times of adversity, Sarah has always maintained her professionalism and integrity and supporting her young people has always been paramount. She has stood between armed youngsters, de-escalated countless difficult situations, worked intensively with families who everyone else had given up on, and always been a shining example of Y-shaped hope.

We are proud of Sarah and how she has grown in confidence and ability during her time with us.

Youth Matters Awards categories