The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

WellbeingMattersTeam750YMCA Norfolk shortlisted for national awards 

YMCA Norfolk are calling for the public’s support in voting for the Youth Matters awards 2022, an annual London-based celebration hosted by YMCA England and Wales.

Norfolk’s branch of the world’s largest youth charity has been shortlisted for the following four awards:

  • YMCA of the Year
  • Young Worker of the Year (George King)
  • Health and Wellbeing Project of the Year (Wellbeing Matters)
  • Training and Education Project of the Year (Life Ready)

Hoping to reach the next round of shortlisting, the charity plan to join YMCAs from all over the country on 18 November 2022 to celebrate the achievements of young people, staff and volunteers over the past year.

YMCA of the Year

The prestigious ‘YMCA of the Year’ award celebrates a stand-out YMCA branch among 104 across the UK, which has had a tangible and positive impact on young people and the wider community they serve. In the last year YMCA Norfolk has housed 381 young people who would otherwise be homeless or living in a vulnerable situation, delivered 413 counselling sessions, worked with 404 families through therapeutic support sessions, hosted 258 youth club sessions across Norfolk and provided 1019 courses for 332 students through their e-learning service. The charity is also proud to be recognised as a trusted delivery partner for a range of their services, regularly approached to lead on projects around youth support and breaking the cycle of homelessness in Norfolk. 

Young Worker of the Year

George King joined YMCA Norfolk as part of the Life Ready team, leading on the project’s horticulture and gardening programme. Based at their Great Yarmouth youth hostel, he was given a small budget to work with residents on transforming the grounds of the property and bringing its garden to life. Alongside working on the garden, George was tasked with teaching YMCA Norfolk’s young people how to plant and grow fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers, in addition to supporting them gain ASDAN qualifications – of which a number of the project’s participants have achieved. George regularly reaches out to local nature reserves, garden centres and community projects to arrange educational day trips for our young people, boosting their mental wellbeing through spending time in nature and socialising with peers. Over the last year he has gone completely above and beyond to transform the hostel’s garden – which now features a seating area, a greenhouse, an allotment, flower beds, sleepers and a most importantly a peaceful, colourful outdoor space for our young people to enjoy. Through taking part in the project, people have learnt about nutritional eating, sustainable living, the positive environmental impact of gardening and how to reduce food costs during the cost of the living crisis. The organisation has seen a huge transformation in the young people he has worked with on the project – many becoming more self-confident and transitioning towards independent living through gaining their own accommodation and employment. 

Health and Wellbeing Project of the Year

YMCA Norfolk’s Wellbeing Matters team delivers breakthrough therapeutic services to engage and support every young person that is referred to them. Experienced staff specialise in aiding young people with their mental health: using a holistic approach to work alongside the young person in crisis to help them understand and improve their mental wellbeing. Of the 242 young people currently receiving their services, 0 have had to be referred onto specialist mental health services, highlighting not just the success of the project but also its evident need. What’s more, by the end of 2022 the Wellbeing Matters team are on track to work with over 500 young people in crisis across Norfolk. Dedicated staff go to the extra mile to ensure every young people receives support in a way that works best for them. They work flexibly around the young person, and therapeutic services are delivered in schools, family’s homes and through activities out in the community. The team are quick to build a trusting rapport with every young person they work with, and ensure positive activities are stimulating, engaging and tailored to meet individual needs. This service not only improves the lives of young people and their families and their mental health but also reduces the strain on local GP surgeries, mental health services, teachers and pastoral teams, ultimately improving a young person’s ability to thrive in education. 

Training and Education Project of the Year

The Life Ready project focuses on supporting young people on their journey towards independent living - consisting of 3 sub-projects of Life Ready Norwich, Life Ready Yarmouth, and Life Ready Gardening. Through the Norwich and Yarmouth projects, the team gives young people the option to increase their independent living skills through our in-house training courses called ‘Skills for Life’; alongside social activities to help with wellbeing. The Life Ready project also helps young people to achieve Short Course Qualifications with ASDANs, outside of offering bespoke one-to-one coaching programmes too. In the last year the project has seen 129 young people from YMCA Norfolk’s housing services and community engaging with the projects, and 54 individual young people achieve one or more qualifications. Life Ready has also awarded 91 ASDAN qualifications to our participants, these ranging from Independent Living to Expressive Arts to Leadership to Gardening and much more. Project participants have commented: “I feel much more confident to live independently after doing the course; I feel it's really helped me prepare for my move on’ and 'Life Ready can help you change what you are doing with your life, and give you more confidence.”

Click here to vote in the awards

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