On Wednesday night we held the first ever UK Youth Awards and Showcase. Bringing together our trustees, alumni, generous sponsors, donors, delivery partners and staff together for a night of celebration and fun.
Guests were delighted to take part in our ‘pop up youth club’ where they got to experience indoor archery, VR simulations, road safety challenges, beginner coding and more. HRH The Princess Royal joined in learning about UK Youth programmes ‘Future Proof’ and ‘Money for Life’.
We were delighted to announce the winners in each of the categories; Wigan Youth Zone – Youth Organisation of the Year, Cheryl Banks, Youth Worker of the Year and Kerry McKenzie – Young Person of the Year. You can read more about their incredible work below.
Wigan Youth Zone
Wigan Youth Zone is a purpose built, state-of-the-art youth facility in Wigan town centre offering young people aged 8-19 (and up to 25 with additional needs) the opportunity to meet friends, have new experiences, learn new skills and access the support they need to develop and achieve their potential. The Youth Zone has a superb team of trained staff and volunteers that manage dedicated areas including a 10-metre climbing wall, Art Zone, Music & Media, Gym, Skate Park and dance studio – all accessible for just 50p a visit. Over 22,000 young people have been members of Wigan Youth Zone since it opened and when surveyed 89% of members said they felt more self-confident due to their time there, a testament to the Youth Zone’s core aims. Seeing over 1000 young people per week, The Youth Zone’s impact has been positive and significant; local police and fire services have reported reductions in both anti-social behaviour and secondary fires – both of which they have attributed to the Youth Zone’s work in the area.
Wigan Youth Zone’s mission is simple, to offer young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.
Cheryl is a passionate and dedicated youth worker who consistently strives to advocate for young people. Currently, she works at West Kent Extra House @ Eden Centre. She has worked as a youth worker for over 20 years ensuring young people’s voices are heard. Recently she has developed a Crime Prevention programme, which has already seen successful results. The programme is improving relationships between young people and the police and the area has started to see a reduction in crime. Cheryl also works far beyond her contracted hours – she will never turn away a young person who needs her support – it is this level of support that has enabled her to develop honest and authentic relationships with young people and help them to build bright futures for themselves. Her knack for getting through to young people has helped see many of them go on to training, education or employment including a number of whom are now also employed by Edenbridge Youth Forum.
Young person: “Without Cheryl’s support I might have been homeless, or worse. She has supported me with my mental health during a trying time, and in finding housing when I had nowhere to go…Not only is she a wealth of knowledge, but she will be right by your side helping you to navigate through it all, encouraging you to keep going.”
Kerry is 20 years old and is part of Youth Action Wiltshire in UK Youth’s network. Kerry had caring responsibilities for her older brother who has severe autism and was supporting her mum with mental health conditions. Whilst a young carer and studying in mainstream education Kerry struggled to get the support she needed. She made the decision to move from sixth form to a college where she was recently awarded Student of the Year. Through engagement with her youth organisation and taking on a leadership role on a project improving health and care services in the local community Kerry started to transform herself. She has gone on to achieve a triple distinction in her college course and has secured a place at Birmingham University.
“Kerry is by far the stand out person I have supported and worked with. Her commitment and determination for social justice and equality is a beacon of hope for future generations.”
It was such a pleasure to meet all the shortlisted candidates and discuss the incredible work that they are undertaking in their communities. We are very proud to be able to recognise our wonderful members’ effort and commitment through the UK Youth Awards – we of course could not have done it without support from our generous sponsors – APM, Robert Langley Asset Management and PwC.