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Youth Matters Awards 2016 inspires YMCA Milton Keynes

November 26, 2016

“I’ve always wanted to help people and until now I never knew what or how to do it. Now I know I want to make a difference to peoples’ lives and think being here at Milton Keynes YMCA, I can do that.”

On Friday November 4th 2016, staff and four of the residents at Milton Keynes YMCA attended the Youth Matters Awards 2016. The Youth Matters Awards is the YMCA’s National Youth Awards scheme for young people, designed to highlight the achievements of YMCA’s inspiring your people, staff, volunteers and services.

It was inspiring to say the least and the four young people who came along with us have returned with big ideas, heart felt sentiments and oodles of enthusiasm.

Our trip to the Youth Matters Awards 2016

We all met at Milton Keynes YMCA suited and booted around midday and made our way to Central Milton Keynes Train Station. Armed with our train tickets and a coffee or hot chocolate in hand we boarded the London Midland Train and departed for London Euston. On the train journey you could feel the buzz of anxiety and excitement at not knowing what to expect amongst the group. Spirits were high and even other passengers on board were joining in with our conversation. We arrived into London Euston and fought our way through the crowds to the underground and boarded a tube train to Charing Cross.

Raining and cold outside we hurried to our destination; a landmark Victorian building just steps away from Nelsons Column – ‘The Grand’ on Northumberland Avenue.

From L-R Carrie, Laura, Daniel, T, Darryl, Chloe and Jenni all sat at the table waiting for the event to begin.

We all looked up at it, mouths slightly open in awe and then entered.

The awards were preceded by a drinks reception, an elegant and sophisticated affair! Everyone was enjoying themselves and talking excitedly about the evening ahead. We were seated at a round dining table and served with a two course meal which was washed down with water or a cheeky glass of wine. Waiters and waitresses tended to our needs and were friendly and polite.

The lights dimmed and on stepped June Sarpong M.B.E, to the stage to present and kick off the awards. Over the next couple of hours, what we heard and witnessed was nothing short of amazing, heart-warming, emotional and inspiring. We watched performances from young people exhibiting their skills of poetry, song and dance. We heard stories of all of the amazing young people around the country who have made a real difference to their own lives as well as their communities. The full stories of each of the winners can be found at http://www.ymca.org.uk/about/awards

Once the awards were over we left the venue full of ideas and excitement for what could be brought to the Milton Keynes YMCA with a bit of enthusiasm, hard work and determination. Travelling back to Milton Keynes there was constant chatter amongst our young residents who we took and they came up with the idea to put a group together who would be able to help young people in need and at risk of homelessness in the Milton Keynes area. Thus was born, MK Matters.

Spearheading the group are Laura Gaskell, 23; Corina Bond, 26; Daniel Harris, 19 and Darryl Jones, 23.

After the event, Darryl when asked about the awards had this to say about it, “the awards show that the people getting the awards are ordinary people and that we could do that too!”

Corina who is a circus performer and looking to introduce teaching circus skills to residents said “I thought that to see so many people doing something that matters when some of them had come from a low place in life and risen above it was inspiring. The support available and being given to young people around the country from their local YMCAs made me realise and appreciate the help I’ve had and realise how lucky I am.”

Each of our young people were encouraged by the awards and it gave them time to reflect upon their own experiences too, Laura said “I feel extremely inspired by the awards and am appreciative of what the YMCA has done for me.”

Daniel was particularly touched by one story of a young lady with Cerebral Palsy who is deaf and won ‘Young achiever of the year award’ for her brave and exceptional attitude to life despite the challenges she constantly faces. Daniel said “the things other YMCAs do is inspiring and has given us the motivation to do what we’re doing now.”

MK Matters is a group set up but these four amazing young people who are eager to help the community around them, impart their knowledge on homelessness matters and supply a support network for their peers and help people get onto the right path in life.

In the pipeline at the moment is a plan to run a regular coffee morning with their first event due in December and based around a ‘Christmas Jumper’ Coffee morning where local businesses will be invited to join us for a free coffee as long as they wear their Christmas Jumpers!!