Young people, staff and volunteers from YMCAs across England and Wales were honoured for their outstanding achievements, inspiring feats against adversity and tireless dedication to provoke change, at 2017’s hotly anticipated Youth Matters Awards ceremony last week.
Twelve coveted awards were up for grabs across a series of diverse categories as the inspiring night of celebration and recognition came to life at 8 Northumberland Avenue in central London. Among the 250 proud guests and nominees were our star finalists, who journeyed down to the capital from all corners of England and Wales.
A central event in YMCA’s calendar since 2009 and hosted this year by enterprising businesswoman, inspirational speaker and winner of BBC’s The Apprentice in 2006, Michelle Dewberry, YMCA’s Youth Matters Awards 2017 celebrated the exceptional skills and achievements of young people over the past year. The awards also recognised the vital work YMCAs deliver day in day out to help transform the lives of young people and give them a brighter future.
After an exciting nomination and voting process over the summer, the winners were finally announced on the glittering night as:
- Young Worker of the Year – Geraint Turner, YMCA Swansea
- Young Campaigner of the Year – Florence Tingley, YMCA DownsLink Group
- Young Volunteer of the Year – Taylor Roberts, YMCA Swansea
- Young Leader of the Year – Gabriel Imevbore, YMCA Birmingham
- Young Achiever of the Year – Sophia Zahra, YMCA Swansea
- Accommodation Project of the Year – Easy Peasy Pods, YMCA Suffolk
- Health & Wellbeing Project of the Year – YMCA Right Here, YMCA DownsLink Group
- Family Work Project of the Year – Young Carers Service, YMCA Swansea
- Training & Education Project of the Year – YMCA Theatre, YMCA Scarborough
- YMCA of the Year – YMCA Swansea
- We Believe Award – George Cullum, YMCA Humber
- Red Triangle Award – Martyn Hayley, YMCA Cornwall
Opening the event, Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said:
“At its core, YMCA’s Youth Matters Awards is about giving thanks and special recognition to every YMCA, young person, service user, member of staff and volunteer, whose hard work and unfaltering dedication have all contributed towards YMCA’s efforts to create better communities for young people and families.
“Huge congratulations to all the winners who collected an award tonight and all the finalists and semi-finalists who made it so far in the competition. They are all phenomenal and they do us proud as they go out and inspire the world.”
Punctuating the evening’s proceedings were a number of performances from some of YMCA’s talented young people, including singer and musician, Zoe Clark from YMCA Humber, spoken word artist Ishmayel D. Adam and the YMCA Productions Choir from YMCA Scarborough.
Nominations kicked off in June 2017, with 89 incredible entries being put forward to YMCA’s judges, before a public vote helped to decide the finalists and winners.