Individuals and organisations across Wales have been recognised for their life-changing work with young people at this year’s Youth Work Excellence Awards.
Among the winners was YMCA Swansea volunteer Gabriel Cole. Gabriel was honoured with the Judges’ Recognition Award for his remarkable and courageous efforts to champion LGBT+ rights in Wales.
Gabriel, from Swansea, has overcome personal discrimination to devote his life to supporting young adults in the LGBT+ community.
Despite many challenges, Gabriel has faced adversity with immense courage and now volunteers every day of the week to support other vulnerable LGBT+ young adults.
In the two years that Gabriel has volunteered with YMCA Swansea, he has led local and national lobbying campaigns, spoken in local schools to combat hate crimes and offers daily support, guidance and advice to young LGBT+ adults.
Gabriel’s volunteer work has given hope, guidance and strength to a great many LGBT+ young people who have faced similar discrimination and his outreach work has made huge strides forward in combatting intolerance and abuse.
After receiving his award, Gabriel said:
“I am so shocked to receive this award and be recognised by the judges – it really does mean the world to me! I do what I do because I feel it is important and I am passionate about it, but it’s great to hear that I inspire others.”
A Cwmbran-based youth academy was celebrated for its enterprising support of young people.
Randomz Ltd has helped hundreds of young people in Torfaen to gain skills, employment or create their own enterprise business.
Tragically, earlier this year the entire building was burned to the ground, destroying everything Randomz Ltd owned and putting this vital local youth provision in jeopardy.
Remarkably, organisers managed to reopen Randomz Ltd within just one day of the fire at a temporary space in the Cwmbran Centre for Young People. This tremendous feat of determination and commitment minimised the disruption to the young people who benefit from its services.
Over 150 organisations in Wales, the UK and even worldwide have pledged their support to help Randomz Ltd find a permanent home and continue their vital youth work.
Other winners at the Youth Work Excellence Awards include:
- Outstanding Youth Worker award was awarded to Sianne Morgan, a youth worker and foster carer from Blaenavon who has supported over 3,000 vulnerable young people in Torfaen
- Outstanding Project Promoting Health and Wellbeing award was awarded to Wrexham County Borough Council for ‘The Creating Change Project’, a humanitarian aid programme to raise funds for life-saving first-aid equipment in Gambia
- Outstanding Project Promoting an Active Lifestyle award was awarded to Conwy Youth Service for the ‘Healthy Image and Active Lifestyle Project’, an alternative sports and physical exercise programme
- Outstanding Arts, Media and Digital Project award was awarded to Media Academy Cardiff for ‘The Enhanced Case Management Project’, their video project to help support youth justice workers in South Wales
- Making a Difference award was awarded to Dorian Spencer Lewis, a youth advocate who has used this own personal insight to champion the rights of young people in Cardiff
- Outstanding Project Promoting Cultures in Wales award was awarded to Conwy Youth Service for ‘Understanding Our Heritage’, an engaging local history scheme in Conwy
- Outstanding Project Promoting Employability Skills award was awarded to Pembrokeshire Youth Service for ‘Routes to Opportunity’, a skills, training and work experience programme
- Outstanding Project Supporting Engagement With Formal Education award was awarded to Blaenau Gwent Youth Service for ‘Inspire 2 Achieve’, a pupil engagement project to combat absenteeism in Blaenau Gwent
- Outstanding Volunteer Youth Worker award was awarded to Ken Pritchard, a retiree who has devoted 30 years to youth volunteer work in Ystrad Mynach
- Outstanding Rights Project award was awarded to Pembrokeshire Youth Service for ‘Pembrokeshire Young Inspectors’, an initiative to maintain standards at schools and young people’s services in Pembrokeshire
These diverse and wide-ranging youth work projects and individuals were highlighted by the Welsh Government during this year’s Youth Work Excellence Awards which has excellent examples of Wales’ vibrant, high quality youth work service in action.
Alun Davies, AM, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language applauded the winners for their efforts in enriching the lives of young people in Wales.
“The contribution of youth workers and those involved in youth work projects has a hugely positive impact on communities across Wales. The Youth Work Excellence Awards is our opportunity to say thank you to those individuals and organisations who consistently help to engage, motivate and inspire young people.”
For more information on Youth Work Week, please visit: http://youthcymru.org.uk/youth-work-week/