Geraint, YMCA Swansea – WINNER

Geraint shows a tireless commitment to young people at YMCA Swansea as its Youth Coordinator. When he was 16 years old he set up a youth club for isolated communities, which nine years later, is still running.

Last year, the local young carer’s service for Swansea was put under threat. Geraint was faced with the possibility of sudden redundancy, but prioritised the continuation of the service, successfully securing a new home for it with YMCA, achieving this at four days’ notice, without any break in service, transfer of local authority contracts and re-designing the service.

In 12 months, the impact that Geraint has had on YMCA Swansea has been phenomenal. He is a constant inspiration and motivator for young people he works with. His honesty has allowed the young people he supports to open up about their struggles and show vulnerability they hide from most others.

Geraint doesn’t hesitate to go the extra mile for those around him. Regardless of the myriad of complex issues many young people face, Geraint’s attitude towards each individual he works with is that, with the right support, they can do anything they put their mind to.

Geraint believes in people, even when they don’t believe in themselves.

Alice, YMCA West Kent – FINALIST

Alice started at YMCA West Kent in 2014 as a youth work apprentice, initially involvement in creating a safe space where young people could attend counselling sessions and youth clubs. While on the Youth team she gained a Level 3 Diploma in Youth Work.

Alice has worked with young bands to achieve success on the local music scene, organised local football tournaments, and assisted groups with achieving Duke of Edinburgh awards, providing motivation and encouragement to her colleagues and participants.

She is a forward thinker, heading up detached projects in socially deprived estates so that young people and communities can access support. She has also covered management duties, rising to the challenge enthusiastically and with maturity beyond her years.

Alice is able to understand the needs of young people on a one to one basis, forming trusting relationships so that she can encourage them in all aspects of their lives.

She is reliable, consistent, patient, calm in crisis and a clear thinker. She is extremely conscientious; always putting young people first, while being non-judgmental and a perfect advocate and role model.

Alice is now a Deputy Manager and will complete her Level 4 NVQ Diploma in Management in 2018.

Sophie, YMCA Barry – FINALIST

Sophie became Gymnastics Manager at YMCA Barry at 26. She is highly passionate about gymnastics and giving children and young people of all abilities the opportunity to participate in gymnastics and reach their own personal potential.

Sophie works tirelessly to encourage and support gymnasts leaving training to become gymnastic coaches of the future, in order to continue and improve upon the work YMCA Barry does with the young people in the community.

She has also been recognised by Sport Wales and achieved the accreditation for the club which recognised her commitment to developing an inclusive sports club and catering for all abilities and specific needs of young people.

Sophie recognises how important it is to support young coaches and volunteers professionally, who collectively trained and mentored thousands of gymnasts.

She has developed a committed young team and has worked continuously over the past year fundraising for a new top of the range sprung floor for the gymnasium that will be the first of its kind in Wales and will be installed in August 2017.

Amy, YMCA Suffolk

Amy is a Childcare Practitioner who is constantly working hard to support the children in her care to meet their full potential. Amy works hard to ensure that the children and families receive nothing less than the best and will always go the extra mile.

Amy started with YMCA Suffolk’s Childcare team as a work experience student and then gained an apprenticeship at the age of 16. Now, she has achieved her Foundation degree in Early Childhood studies and is a Room Leader position in its nursery. Amy has developed, coached and nurtured her staff and apprentices through her own experiences, always making them feel valued and promoting a sense of excitement for learning across the setting.

She also set up a Transitions project to help support children moving onto school. She worked with more than 80 participants to help build confidence in what is such an important transition for young children.

Amy has had a positive impact on the lives of many children during her time at YMCA Suffolk and has supported many families through difficult times. Families attending the nursery provide Amy and her staff team daily challenges in supporting children and parents overcome the issues that they are faced with.

Marufah, YMCA Newcastle

Marufah has been working at YMCA Newcastle’s Space2 project since it opened in 2013. Marufah has done a lot in challenging discrimination & stereotypes, as a young Muslim herself she has faced enormous barriers when working with young people in a busy city centre project.

Working in partnership with the Anne Frank Foundation Marufah has led discussions and debates around racism, discrimination & prejudice. She has worked with socially isolated groups and has always been there for any young person from these groups.

Marufah has also taken a lead in supporting YMCA Newcastle’s job club and created an employability programme. Rather than just helping young people with CV and job searches she set up a project whereby young people are trained up as peer mentor work coaches to support each other.

Despite all the outside pressures from an ever-changing world Marufah focuses on the job in hand and helping young people. She commands respect, enabling her to challenge behaviour and support young people’s life choices as the young people trust her.

Nicola, YMCA Humber

Nicola joined YMCA Humber as a young apprentice in 2015. Over the past 18 months, she has developed skills and confidence to become an indispensable member of its Community Services team.

She uses her strengths as a natural organiser to support her colleagues and take ownership of the projects she has been involved with; she puts her passions into the role and is pro-active to make things happen

Nicola’s journey as youth worker has seen her overcome anxieties delivering large group sessions, showing she is always willing to take on the challenge. She has pushed herself out of her comfort zone to take on new responsibilities such as delivering workshops in local schools.

She has developed positive trusted relationships with the staff team and young people alike becoming a hugely valued member of the Community Services team at YMCA Humber. She now leads on a number of weekly youth work sessions, as well as working with volunteers and new youth apprentices.

Nicola, YMCA White Rose

Nicola has helped young people achieve their full potential through guiding and empowering them to help themselves.

Any projects that YMCA White Rose is running are often led by Nicola ensuring everything is catered for from funding to delivering the project. Young people from 10 to 19 years old respect her and she helps them to progress their skills further.

Nicola works with young people to raise their aspirations by using the arts as a vehicle; encouraging active involvement to get involved with groups and projects at Myplace and within their community.

Nicola manages the Reaching Communities Projects in an area that is hard to engage young people in, primarily from Roma, Slovak and other Eastern European Communities.

Nicola has worked tirelessly to provide young people with skills and expertise needed so that they are not exposed to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), and know what to do if they or their friends are. This has included empowering local young people to produce their own film around the dangers of CSE which was filmed in Czech so young people could understand it in their own language, and made in partnership with other local organisations.