Portrait photo of Abbie

Abbie Button, YMCA Bridport Charity Shop

Abbie has been volunteering for 13 months at YMCA Bridport Charity Shop, she comes with her carer Tracey Marles. Abbie has Autism and sensory processing disorder. When she started volunteering she was very quiet and shy, she would only work in the back store room with Tracey and did not talk or engage with customers or other staff. Within a matter of weeks, Abbie was talking to other volunteers.

Abbie now can do a very thorough shop walk and is able to design and display a window. Abbie is a happy, trustworthy volunteer who volunteers for up to 10 hours a week with the assistance of Tracey her carer. This is a massive breakthrough for Abbie as it has made her more confident in her surroundings and recently is willing to stay without her carer for short periods of time. Tracey hopes to build this into a longer period of time as she gains more self-esteem. Abbie has inspired other volunteers to step out of their comfort zone.

Connor infront of plant

Connor Rogerson, YMCA Humber

Connor was a resident at YMCA Humber’s Foyer Project from October 2017 to March 2019 and is currently studying BTEC Business with Finance and Media at Franklin college in Grimsby.

Connor showed a keen interest in completing his work experience within the finance office at YMCA Humber and although this was a first, they felt enthused that Connor had approached them and was delighted to offer him the opportunity. Connor has now been volunteering with the finance team for over a year and have seen him grow in confidence.

Connor has now moved on into his own flat and is living independently. Despite not living with YMCA anymore, every Thursday on his day off from college Connor takes to his desk in the commercial office. This really does show Connor’s dedication to the role.

In Connor’s own words, “Before I started volunteering for YMCA Humber, I struggled with social and communication skills and found the thought of working in a small team daunting”.

“I now feel the improved social and communication skills have boosted my confidence and I am ready to move forward in my chosen career of accountancy”.

Connor has learnt a range of new skills including producing sales invoices, data entry onto Sage 200 software, producing excel spreadsheets with financial information, money handling and working within a busy environment.

Staff within the financial team have seen Connor grow into a confident individual and become a vital member of the team. Connor has a great future and a strong work ethic. All at YMCA Humber are proud of Connor and are delighted to nominate him for a Youth Matters award.

Emma with child on trampoline

Emma Taylor, YMCA Plymouth

Emma came to YMCA Plymouth as a student through its Discovery College project at age 17 and soon became an essential volunteer for the soft play childcare service and disability sports project.

Alongside studying on her full-time course, Emma gives up many hours each week -including evenings and lunchtimes – bringing her enthusiasm, dedication and unique skills to the projects she supports.

Throughout her two years volunteering for the soft play service, she has been actively involved in planning sessions, dealing with first aid incidents, working with children and leading various activities from craft, games and preparing healthy snacks.

As a young person with autism, Emma uses her own personal experience with the condition to be attentive to other children who are on the autistic spectrum. Her particular ability to engage, involve and encourage these children makes her an incredible volunteer, with a unique ability to reach out to children who may otherwise be more challenging to engage.

Emma uses her skills in the inclusive sports clubs she volunteers for, helping young people with additional needs get active and enjoy the benefits of sport. She is involved in everything from working with children, engaging with parents, setting up and planning sessions.

She volunteers each week because of her passion for helping others, especially young people with additional needs. Her passion has also led to her undertake research while volunteering, assessing public perceptions of autism and becoming an advocate for people with additional needs.

Emma’s own journey over her two years of volunteering has seen her grow in confidence, overcome challenges, and achieve things she never thought she could. A very friendly and hardworking person who consistently goes above and beyond, Emma is an inspiring volunteer that is liked by all who work with her.

Grace O’Donovan, YMCA North Staffordshire

Grace is a 25-year old who has, for over two years, freely volunteered her time week in, week out to YMCA North Staffordshire’s Family Contact Centre.

YMCA North Staffordshire provides this Family Contact Centre as we know how important it is for children and young people to spend quality time with their parents and extended family members. Sadly, for many families accessing this service, relationships have broken down. Providing a safe and neutral environment, we help to rebuild these relationships so that family life improves for everyone.

However, without the dedication of volunteers, this centre simply would be unable to operate. That is why we would like the hard work of Grace to be recognised. Grace is always warm, positive and approachable. She ensures that children are always safe and happy and have a brilliant experience with their family members each week. She has developed her own personal skills as a childcare practitioner to keep the centre new and exciting for the children.

Every Saturday, Grace offers 7 hours of her time to set up the centre so that it is a fun space for children and young people to visit. She warmly welcomes children and parents, signs them in and helps to deliver fun-filled activities. Grace is full of passion and wants the very best for every family she meets.

Oakley in the Foyer

Oakley Strike, YMCA Humber

Oakley has been a resident at YMCA Humber’s Foyer project since May 2018.
Oakley was a care leaver and had never lived independently, so when he moved in, he sought support for independent skills. He embraced these and quickly learnt how to manage a budget and cook meals for himself.

Oakley began volunteering on YMCA Humber’s Environmental Orchard project in partnership with Fruitful Communities. Oakley discovered he had a passion for horticulture and a regular basis. He could regularly be seen on a Saturday morning with a spade. Indeed, he played a key part in building the ‘cob house’ using recycled materials. Oakley’s participation in the project has been recognised by Fruitful Communities and he was invited to London for a parliamentary reception.

Oakley is an avid representative of YMCA and is a member of the resident council. He is also a member of Foyer Federation Power Up group and went on a 3-day residential with them last year. Oakley also enjoyed volunteering at the Greenbelt festival last year.

Oakley’s love of horticulture and his hours spent volunteering have seen him achieve his latest goal. He has recently gained an apprenticeship with the local authority in horticulture. His next goal is moving into independent living. He grows in determination and motivation daily, and his caring nature demonstrates that he will help anyone at any time.

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