Taylor, YMCA Swansea – WINNER

At age 18, Taylor was elected as a Trustee for YMCA Swansea due to his enormous passion to help fellow young people. Taylor dreamed of studying philosophy at a highly regarded university. His drive to achieve this goal gave others around him the determination to set and achieve their own goals. His hard work was rewarded, earning a place at Oxford University.

Taylor volunteers his time delivering several workshops on a range of topics to youth groups around issues affecting young people, including stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and religion. His sessions are always engaging and fun, well planned and educational. He is a constant support to staff in the youth groups, undertaking any task, often without being asked.

While at university, Taylor continued to keep in contact with his YMCA youth group and returned monthly to fulfil his duty as a trustee.

He has now returned to Swansea, volunteering 15 hours each week to lead on a new national digital inclusion project (My Digital Life) for young people across Wales. He is currently designing delivery programmes, consulting with young people and preparing for the project’s launch in September.

Josh, YMCA Humber – FINALIST

Josh joined us as a resident of our YMCA Foyer project in January 2016 and is currently studying at The Grimsby Institute. After a successful grant bid, YMCA Humber began their orchard project and from the start Josh showed a high level of interest.

It is through this interest that prompted Josh to serve as a member of the youth panel for learning through landscapes. This experience gave Josh the opportunity to meet other volunteers from participating YMCAs and have a voice on the national orchard project.

Through his efforts Josh devised and pitched his idea of a digital water irrigation system powered from solar panels and rainfall to the O2 think big panel in London. The panel loved his idea and was awarded £8,300 in funding.

Josh is now the project lead for digital water irrigation system which involves implementing a timeline, negotiating for the equipment and working on a corresponding volunteer plan to accompany the project.

Josh’s volunteer efforts have played a large role in the success of the orchard project and we look forward to his continued dedication even after he leaves YMCA Foyer.

Joanne, Y Care International / YMCA Sefton – FINALIST

After being placed in care at a young age, Joanne developed a passion for helping young people in need. She is currently a trustee of YMCA Sefton and serves as a Young Advisor for Sefton Council for Voluntary Service. Through these roles, Joanne works with community leaders and decision makers to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard.

Joanne also served Y Care International as part of their overseas volunteering programme in Liberia. A testament to her commitment, Joanne fundraised £110 over her £800 target for the trip.

Joanne worked side by side with Liberian volunteers over three months to tackle poverty in Monrovia and Kakata. Health services are limited in these communities and most do not meet the needs of young people.

Joanne and her team also renovated an existing private latrine, converting it into a public bathroom. This benefitted those who do not have their own private bathroom and encouraged a shift in behaviour around defecating in public to help reduce illnesses spread through human waste.

Upon her return to the UK, Joanne has continued to raise awareness about the issues she experienced overseas and those within her own community in Sefton.

James Chilvers, YMCA Newcastle

James, YMCA Newcastle

James began volunteering at YMCA Newcastle’s Space 2 project in 2013 during a time in which he himself was unemployed and going through a difficult time at home. However, whilst job-hunting, James dedicated 40 hours each week to Space 2 and helped teach young people basic maths and English through the alternative education programme.

James has since gained employment, but it hasn’t stopped him volunteering his time, frequently offering assistance to the project before and after work. He’s helped other young people find work and helped one individual find accommodation in a youth hostel after living on the streets.

In addition, he has helped organise the Duke of Edinburgh trips, been part of various workshops and activities, and helped gain funding for a what it means to be a Geordie project.

Through his work at Space 2, James grown more confident in himself while inspiring young people to better themselves.

Shane, YMCA Humber

Shane moved into YMCA accommodation in November 2016 with a history of anger-related issues. Today, through his continued volunteer efforts, he has grown into a confident young man and integral part of the YMCA Humber community.

Shane began volunteering in the kitchen making a buffet for Christmas Day. He quickly became a regular kitchen volunteer, committing to early mornings and evenings preparing meals.

Shane has also played an ongoing role in the Orchard Project, enjoying the physical aspect of maintaining the trees.

Shane’s interest in public service increased after he took part in a body confidence workshop for the Be Real campaign. He was then asked to attend Westminster as part of an APPG where he presented evidence to a Select Committee talking about his own story and experiences. His experience at Westminster really engaged Shane’s interest in politics with the election and he got involved in finding out more about politics locally, including campaigning within the accommodation project and speaking with Look North about the importance of young people registering to vote.

Most recently, Shane is looking to expand his volunteering beyond YMCA through coaching sports activities with Positive Activities.