Youth Matters awards – YMCA DLG success!


Staff, volunteers and residents from YMCA DownsLink Group (YMCA DLG) are celebrating after three of our nominations won awards at a national youth charity awards ceremony.

Youth Matters is the YMCA federation’s national awards programme that has been an integral part of the charity’s calendar since 2009. The Youth Matters 2016 awards ceremony was held on Friday 4 November at the exclusive central London venue, 8 Northumberland Avenue and hosted by TV presenter June Sarpong MBE. With ten categories for nominations, winning three awards this year is a remarkable achievement.

An inspiring young person from YMCA DLG beat off competition to be crowned Young Leader of the Year at the ceremony. Emily, one of our YMCA DLG residents, triumphed over two other inspirational young people. This award recognises the young person’s ability to make a real difference in their YMCA by bringing about positive change, working with vision and inspiring others.

Emily was praised by judges for her immense courage and determination. Despite battling complex trauma, Emily is warm, committed and reliable. Since living at YMCA DLG, Emily has been actively involved in the organisation as a founding member of the Young People’s Board and with other activities.

Emily said: “I am really excited to have won such a significant award. Even reaching the final stage was overwhelming. My life has changed so much since getting involved with YMCA and I appreciate everyone who has supported me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony in person as I’m in Tanzania volunteering with Raleigh International but when I found out I’d won I felt extremely happy and grateful.”

The prestigious title of Accommodation Project of the Year was awarded to YMCA DLG’s YMCA Empty Homes. This project has operated across Sussex for the past five years, refurbishing unused properties to provide accommodation for young people in housing need. It has proved to be an innovative way of bringing housing back into use, with the YMCA infrastructure able to offer support to the young tenants and peace of mind to the landlords.

The Training & Education Project of the Year award was given to YMCA Positive Placements, a project which operates in Brighton, Mid Sussex, Horsham and Guildford. YMCA Positive Placements matches volunteer mentors from the local community with disadvantaged young people to help them get back into education, work or training. Once again, it creatively harnesses local resources, in this case skills and talent in the locality to enable young people to make real progress towards work and independence.

YMCA DLG triumphed after battling off strong competition from across England and Wales during shortlisting, a public vote and a final decision by judges. It was praised for its innovative approach in transforming communities and tackling youth unemployment.

Chas Walker, Chief Executive of YMCA DLG, said:

“We are overjoyed and excited to have won these three significant awards. It is brilliant to receive recognition for our innovative projects and I am particularly pleased to see Emily named as Young Leader of the Year, she absolutely deserves it. Thank you to everyone in the community who supported us by voting; we couldn’t have won without you.

“Our vision is that all young people should belong, contribute and thrive. Between them these three awards acknowledge that that is what we do.”

Read more about YMCA Empty Homes here.

Read more about YMCA Positive Placements here.





YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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