Young Person of the Year 2018 #UKYAwards18

10 November 2018

  • Blog

Our ‘Young Person of the Year’ Award is sponsored by PwC and recognises the incredible work and achievements of young people in our network. These inspiring shortlisted candidates have worked incredibly hard to empower themselves and build bright futures. Keep reading for their inspiring stories.



Kelsy Smails

Kelsy is 24 years old and part of NE Youth in UK Youth’s network. She is a champion of working rights for people with a disability and works to advocate for other young people with a disability. Kelsy struggled with anxiety and confidence but knew she had to push herself to learn and develop. She began to ask for more responsibility and has taken on a leadership role within NE Youth helping to plan events and fundraise. Despite facing the daily difficulties of having a disability and being prone to illness, Kelsy is an active volunteer for her local youth service and is very supportive to her peers. In her youth worker’s words, “Kelsy is a great example of someone who, although has been given many setbacks in her life, shows not only gratitude but a sense of grittiness that I am very much in awe of.”


“[Kelsy] is very committed and dedicated to the group… she has a great deal of enthusiasm and always has a huge smile on her face.”


Kyla Wheatcroft

Kyla is 19 years old from Young People First in Warwickshire in UK Youth’s network. Kyla suffered from low mental health, anxiety, and a lack of self-esteem and motivation. When Kyla was 15 a bereavement in the family caused a breakdown which resulted in a chaotic environment in which she had to couch surf and sleep rough until she was housed at 16. She engaged with the Interdependence project at Young People First a year ago to learn how to transition from supported accommodation to independent living. She has come in leaps and bounds and has learnt a range of skills from healthy eating to money management. She is now working in her ‘dream job’ supporting others with mental health issues and has moved out of supported accommodation – something she never thought was possible. She continues to be involved with Young People First sharing her story and running workshops with other young people in similar circumstances.


“[Kayla’s] transformation has been huge, she has a job, a stable network and is going from strength to strength.”


Kerry McKenzie

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.”


We’re excited to meet all the amazing candidates in person on Tuesday 13th November at the UK Youth Awards 2018. Be sure to follow the hashtag #UKYAwards18 and our twitter page @UKYouth for live coverage of the winners on the night!


If you would like to see more shortlisted candidates check out our nominees for ‘Youth Worker of the Year’ and ‘Youth Organisation of the Year’.


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