27 October 2021

We are delighted that our youth worker Chiara has beaten competition to become a finalist in the national YMCA Youth Matters awards in the category of Young Worker of the Year.  The awards ceremony happens in early November and we all have our fingers crossed for her! Chiara will be attending the gala event in London. When asked about how she felt she said, “Finding out I was nominated by those I proudly work for, was really heart-warming! I am absolutely honoured to be nominated & I am really proud of the work that we all do.”

Here is some information about Chiara that led to her being shortlisted:

Chiara became a resident of YMCA Frome Foyer at 16. She didn’t have an easy childhood and faced the challenges of becoming a single mum at 17.  YMCA Foyer staff supported her, providing many different services and opportunities to help Chiara through the difficulties and personal challenges she was facing. This helped Chiara become focused and determined to achieve in ways she had not previously experienced.

Chiara gained youth work qualifications, completed active citizens and intergenerational work, visited Serbia with YMCA and attended the YMCA National Conference. She became a member of the Youth Steering Committee, trained to deliver services and became a volunteer Youth Worker for Coleford Youth Club & Routes (IAG).

This enabled Chiara to turn her life around; she got more involved, which led to many good opportunities opening up for her. She worked hard and, at 19, became a paid member of staff as a youth worker at Frome youth club.  Since then, Chiara has become; area team leader in Mendip at 24, overseeing youth clubs; she has helped set up youth clubs across Somerset, worked with young people setting up social action projects in 3 different communities; supported hundreds of young people and is a vital member of the staff team at YMCA Brunel Group.

Chiara is passionate about young people, and she knows from her own experience there is always a way to achieve that breakthrough with young people. Chiara has always worked above and beyond to support young people. She worked hard supporting young people through the pandemic, providing covid-19 advice, mentoring, detached work, helping them through their own challenges. Now, Chiara runs four youth clubs, including Mendip young carers and is also working directly with young people at risk of county lines and child sexual exploitation. She is one in a million and we really hope she wins!