The young people and families its serves, rather than its own achievements, were the focus of YMCA Norfolk’s Annual Celebration evening at the Open Venue in Norwich last night (November 16).
They were part of an audience of around 200, which also included staff, supporters and civic guests, marking the achievements of the past year.
Your Voice Awards were presented to Young Volunteer of the Year – Jamie Copping, Young Achiever – Sasha Gotts and Tenants of the Year – Matthew Himpson and Lucy White. A Healthy Living Award went to Ebony Warnes who lost over five stone in the past 12 months and Inspiration Awards went Hafiz Abubakr, Tavis Gray and Kathy Watts.
The evening was opened by YMCA Norfolk President, General the Lord Richard Dannatt, and heard inspirational personal stories from some of the young people and families who have been helped over the past 12 months.
The charity’s work with six youth clubs across Norfolk was described by staff member Charlie Wall, Jess Tyson outlined Mental Health First Aid courses which will be expanded in the new year and volunteer co-ordinator Nicola Cushion praised the work of scores of volunteers who serve collectively for hundreds of hours every month.
Over the past year, YMCA Norfolk has helped 2047 people in the local community through its accommodation, education work, youth clubs and community groups and families provision.
Chief executive Tim Sweeting said: “Many people think of the YMCA in terms of housing young people, and we do that for over 200 young people every night. But we recognise that every homeless young person comes from a family, and often those families are not as strong as they would like to be.
“So we want to help people make positive changes in their lives earlier on, either by working with children, parents or a family unit so that every child is able to grow up in a secure and nurturing environment. This will prevent homelessness and all sorts of other negative outcomes and instead provide the best possible opportunities for them to thrive! We see this as essential now, because the world around is getting harder for those who are vulnerable.
“We don’t believe it is right that the quality of a young person’s start in life should dictate their future.
“It is wrong that young people are today struggling with massive levels of poor mental health and have to wait for months to get the support they need.
“We don’t accept that street homelessness cannot be eradicated.
“As a local charity which has adapted over the last 160 years to meet the needs of the time, these are the issues we are determined to resolve in our community,” said Tim.
Pictured above are the YMCA Norfolk Your Voice Awards winners and speakers at the celebration evening with CEO Tim Sweeting and the Sheriff of Norwich David Walker. Picture by Julia Holland.