26 July 2022

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for a number of awards at this year’s #YouthMatters Awards and we’d love for you to show your support; it takes less than two minutes to vote and you could swing it in our favour. Read on the learn more about the categories and nominees.



Young Volunteer of the Year – Kamila Trojanowska

Kamila is a volunteer mentor on our Y’s Girls mentoring programme.  Kamila’s commitment to Y’s Girls as a project has been exceptional! Her flexibility and availability to keep in contact with her mentee in difficult situations imposed by both personal and covid-related restrictions have been so integral to the project. 

Kamila has formed a great relationship with her mentee and encouraged her to engage in a multitude of activities and build her confidence and independence. Kamila is also a great communicator and is always so vigilant with returning documentation and informing me of how the mentor/mentee relationship is progressing. 

Young Worker of the Year – Chelsea Grazier

Chelsea started as a nursery apprentice at 16 years old, straight from school and on the coattails of Covid-19. Since then, Chelsea has shown a level of maturity beyond her years, her passion to learn and support the young children in YMCA BCG’s care is infectious. She uses her own initiative and will confidently question the other practitioners about their roles and implements their good practices to ensure the children get all they need from her.  

Chelsea’s family have had some difficult times to overcome recently, and Chelsea spoke up to ask for support when she needed it, and continued to deliver outstanding childcare to her key group. When a young baby joined the nursery at just five months old, Chelsea immediately created a bond with the baby and their parents, asking questions and sharing feedback seamlessly to ensure she could offer everything that was needed.  

Chelsea is an excellent role model to her key children, showing care and compassion in every interaction with them – and these are just small examples of how she has gone above and beyond every day during her time with YMCA BCG. 

At just 17 years old Chelsea comes to work with an eagerness to learn, never complains about her role or the expectations of her and will willingly help in every room. She puts the children at the heart of everything she does, and is a great ambassador for YMCA’s ethos and values.  Chelsea is already displaying the qualities she needs to be a great leader one day, and YMCA BCG is excited to see the what the future holds for her, knowing that she will achieve anything she sets her mind too! 

Housing Project of the Year – YMCA City Gateway

YMCA Black Country Group provide a range of housing options, including supported housing to young people and vulnerable adults with complex needs, supported lodgings in the homes of trained and approved hosts, move on accommodation, and housing for young professionals. In 2021 they opened 63 units of accommodation at a brand new build site – City Gateway. City Gateway (as the name suggests) is located on the gateway to the City of Wolverhampton, and housing there provides young people with safe, secure, affordable accommodation with a landlord they can trust. It is aimed towards young professionals aged 18-35, or young people in full time education or training. City Gateway gives young people the opportunity to live in great quality accommodation, alongside likeminded individuals, with residents mostly comprised of those who are moving on from supported accommodation, returning to the area after University, leaving the family home for the first time, in employment in the area, or just looking for a greater level of independence.All of the residents at City Gateway are provide with voluntary opportunities to in order to help them to:
• Belong – by getting to know, encouraging and supporting each other during their time at the accommodation
• Contribute – by volunteering in other areas of YMCA BCG, donating to our ‘Moving Forward Fund’, fundraising on our behalf or ‘Mentoring’ a resident in supported accommodation
• Thrive – by enabling residents to access activities and programs delivered by the YMCA locally, nationally and internationally.So far this housing support has been very well received, reaching 90% occupancy and with two units recently released to young Ukrainian refugees. The Housing Manager Tracy and the team have created an aspirational environment for the residents, as well as welcoming the community and neighbours into the project by celebrating ‘Gateway to Christmas’ and ‘World Culture Day’, and continue to develop a fabulous new housing scheme.

Family & Youth Work Project of the Year – Y’s Girls

The Y’s Girls mentoring programme was a pilot funded by the Tampon Tax Fund, Garfield Weston and The Penny Appeal that began in January 2021 to September 2022. The 10 participating YMCA’s across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland match trained volunteer mentors with young women aged 9-14 years old at risk of poor mental health in order to build their self-efficacy, engage with their local community and support them to thrive.Over a 12-month period, the mentors and young people meet regularly for 1.5-2 hour sessions and work together to identify achievable goals that will empower the mentee and build their resilience to enable them to lead fulfilling lives and improve their short and long term mental health and wellbeing.

The sessions offer an informal environment with the opportunity to discuss anything that might be worrying them, from family and personal relationships to lifestyle and education.Y’s Girls is an early and effective mentoring initiative that has been adapted and replicates the successful Plusone Mentoring programme model, designed by YMCA Scotland.  Early indications from external evaluation of the project show that it is effective in improving social and emotional learning outcomes for girls.  Despite the challenges of setting up a face to face mentoring project through lockdown, Y’s Girls have matched over 220 girls with mentors, and are now working hard to take the learning, evaluation and sustainability plan forward to refine and embed the project into business as usual.

Feedback from Y’s Girls mentees, their parents and carers, and mentors is that the project has been transformative for all; improving interpersonal relationships, increasing a sense of belonging and providing personal and professional development opportunities. This Y’s Girls application was submitted on behalf of the eight YMCA England & Wales delivery sites; North Tyneside, Cardiff, East Surrey, Black Country Group, Bradford, Robin Hood Group, Southend and Downslink Group.

Diversity Award – YMCA Black Country Group

Operating from its new Wolverhampton City Centre base, YMCA Black Country’s diversity initiatives have intentionally reached out to welcome and include children, young people and community members representing the 80+ languages spoken in the city.

In 2022 YMCA Black Country became the first YMCA in the world to achieve the international diversity standard ISO30415.  This was fittingly celebrated with the local community on World Culture Day in May 2022, together with Madam Mayor, Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City’s first Black Mayor in nearly 200 years. 

While the award is an indication of systemic intention across YMCA Black Country’s operational practices; specific initiatives of note include the development of an innovative mobile app, which allows nursery parents to be updated on their child’s routine, observations and learning journey in multiple languages.Family matters work which brings together multicultural communities to develop solidarity and understanding. Education initiatives and the celebrations of BAME and LGBT staff and community members during Black History Month and Pride Month; and YMCA Black Country’s contribution to the coordination of World YMCA’s Global Week-Of-Prayer and World Council Devotions, which has exemplified being an inclusive Christian movement, coordinating worldwide participation of young people, and valuing people of all faith and none. 

During the year an EDI staff perception survey indicated that 96% of respondents felt YMCA Black Country treated every person with equal value regardless of race, and further helped the association identify additional objectives for continual improvement.  

In response the association is increasing its support of multi-cultural integration, events and activities; specifically promoting positive stories, images, success and achievements of black communities both current and historically, and ensuring that EDI is discussed regularly at management and team meetings to raise awareness.