Megan – YMCA Barry

Megan began at YMCA Barry as a gymnast from the age of three gaining a place in the Welsh Gymnastics Squad. After retiring, Megan turned her hand to coaching gymnastics, starting as a junior coach at YMCA, where she is now the Head of Under 5’s gymnastics.

In the last year Megan has dramatically increased the popularity and membership of this age group teaching more than 350 children each week. Megan is exceptional at engaging even the youngest children to develop a foundation in gymnastics to encourage the children to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Megan has had a major influence on the community in Barry and the surrounding area by working to educate parents on how to encourage their children in sport. Megan runs eight weekly parent and toddler classes where she helps to build the parents’ confidence to engage with their children.

Megan is also extremely dedicated in ensuring that every child is able to access gymnastics and has helped many children overcome obstacles. She gained this passion through her own experiences as a gymnast and suffering from severe Crohn’s disease all her life. As an elite gymnast there were times where Megan trained and competed while extremely ill. Megan now takes this experience and inspires many children with additional needs to believe in themselves so they can also enjoy the sport she loves.

Alan – YMCA Hayes, part of YMCA St Paul’s Group

Alan Maphosa came to the UK as a refugee from South Africa 10 years ago and at age 21 he was referred to YMCA Hayes as a resident.

Over the last 18 months Alan has gone from being a resident to a qualified youth worker working hard to qualify as a boxing tutor and football coach with the support of YMCA. He is now the lead on four football projects, three boxing projects and two youth work projects across three London boroughs.

Alan is well known in the local community in Hayes, West London, especially with the parents and children from his under-16s football project which has a core attendance of approximately 50 children. Alan has been pivotal in engaging with young people from the community who are involved in local gang culture and works with the police to achieve many positive outcomes for these young men.

Alan recently ruptured his achilles tendon and had his leg in a plaster cast; however, he was not willing to let that keep him from engaging with local children and young people. He insisted on buying himself a portable chair so he could continue attending his football sessions.

Alan is also involved in many community events and leads on yearly YMCA activities at the Hayes Town Cup football tournament and the YMCA annual Community fun day. Alan is a great example to all young people that we work with, going above and beyond to achieve positive outcomes for all children and young people.

Lauren – YMCA Thames Gateway

Lauren initially started working with YMCA Thames Gateway as a Room Leader and in the space of just one year was promoted to Interim Nursery Manager at our Oakfield Nursery. She has been able to identify areas that need extra support and has inspired her team to drive for excellence. An example of some of Lauren’s great work is our partnership with Thatcher’s Court, a care home for the elderly. Lauren leads an inter-generational project whereby the children meet and interact with the older generation. The children visit regularly and take part in a range of activities including:

  • Providing care packages
  • Hosting afternoon tea’s
  • Arts/crafts sessions
  • Sharing stories, songs and conversation

All of which benefits both the children and the residents. Lauren is driven to succeed and will always go above and beyond to achieve results. She has recently been working with Improvement Officers from the Children’s Centre to improve our hygiene rating. Lauren initiated the necessary action plans, training and monitoring and the situation quickly improved. Our rating is now back up to a four and Lauren continues to drive this forward and we are on track to return to our five-star rating.

On previous Ofsted inspections we were rating ‘satisfactory’. Lauren has always strived for excellence, and using her initiative and knowledge has improved our rating significantly. We our now graded as ‘Good’ with elements of ‘Outstanding’ and are confident that Lauren will drive even harder to ensure our next inspection is outstanding!

Mervyn – YMCA St Paul’s Group

Mervyn joined YMCA St Paul’s Group in 2015 working alongside young people exploring mental health stigmas amongst young boys particularly from diverse groups. Restrictive budgets in schools means focusing their resources on the ‘arts’ is increasingly under threat. Mervyn has been a key-driver in developing our Plug into Amp project providing local young people with the opportunity to explore multimedia strengths beyond academia.

Mervyn is a talented youth worker and a keen team player who takes part in cross organizational projects, which was evident in a music video he created based on the remix of the iconic YMCA song against a backdrop of all the services a London YMCA may provide. His video premiered at YMCA St Paul’s Group first Flourish Fest. He supports young people to believe in their capabilities, shows compassion towards their needs and has developed a programme which exposes young people to university standard techniques explored in multimedia.

He strives to create an environment which is both calm and nurturing which enables his strengths and ability to work with both disengaged and non-mainstream young people in a humble manner. This was expressed by a young boy aged 12 who said, ‘he lets us choose what we want to do instead of telling us what he wants us to do’.

Sophie – YMCA Bedfordshire

Sophie came to YMCA Bedfordshire as a part-time course administrator, when the independent charity Fun 4 Young People merged with us. She has since advanced to the role of Youth Services Lead through her tireless support of the programme she delivers and the children and young people whom it supports. Sophie regularly works overtime during evenings and weekends in order to ensure the courses run smoothly and our service users (aged 5-16) get the most out of their time with us.

Despite being the service lead, Sophie makes time for each and every young person in her care (up to 140 participants during a holiday course). Her own life literally revolves around the demands of the programme and its delivery schedules. She has been known to rope the whole family in when extra hands are needed, whether it’s baking 100 cakes for an event or running the kitchen.

Sophie’s passion for the outcomes F4YP delivers drives her to add ever more opportunities to the portfolio available to our service users. She has been caving in the peaks, swimming in lakes, canoeing, camping and boxing all in the name of raising the aspirations of our young people. This is no better evidence than the fact that under Sophie’s tenure, we now have more than 30 peer mentors and three of our young people currently hold paid positions within the project.

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