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26 February 2016

Thursday 25th January marked our annual Mercers’ awards presentation. London Youth’s Getting Ready programme recognises the achievements of three young volunteers for their contributions to developing sport in their youth clubs. This is thanks to the generous support of the Mercers’ Company.
There are three cash prices, 1st Prize – £750, 2nd Prize – £500 and 3rd Prize – £250. The Charter 600 committee of the Mercers’ Company share London Youths beliefs in the importance of encouraging, enabling and developing young people through sport. The winners were selected by a panel of judges based on the criteria of involving and developing young people as community sport leaders. Volunteers are the foundation of youth sport, particularly grass roots sports, in this city and without their dedication youth organisations would not be able to offer the services they currently provide or reach the high numbers of young people they do.

Third place was awarded to Ausrine Saulkyte from Salaam Peace who started attending her youth club gym and cycle sessions a couple of years ago. Since then she has made the transition from participant to volunteer helping at a huge range of projects and events and becoming one of the youth clubs first to be inducted into the community champion’s programme. At Just 16 she has passed several coaching qualifications and on a weekly basis she supports the delivery at three separate sessions delivering to over 100 young people. She is a fundamental part of the team at Salaam Peace, stepping up to a coaching role when there were staff shortages. Her biggest inspiration is Jessica Ennis, who acts as a strong female role model for young girls participating in sport.

In second place is Jada McAnuff from Football Beyond Borders, who on first moving to the UK struggled to settle and faced additional barriers at school often finding herself in trouble. However over the last 12 months she has made some dramatic life changes leading her to being nominated for head girl. She feels learning the disciplines of sport has supported her positive behaviour as she has to adapt to the different rules of the multiple sports she participates in. Through her passion for football she has made some fantastic strides in her life, devising, organising and leading the first FBB project aimed at girls. She now mentors 21 girls on the project she designed and continues to show drive and an entrepreneurial spirit. She is an inspiring and positive role model for other young girls. “Sports is a way of expressing who we are. The competitive element explores how we work as a team.” Jada’s biggest inspiration is her mum who she says empowers and pushes her to be the best she can be.

First place was awarded to Alan Maphosa from YMCA West London. This is a young man who came to England as a refugee, and completed YMCAWL ‘Get on Track’ Employability programme leading him to become a volunteer within the organisation. He has shown real dedication and volunteered at a number of different youth activities, but it is the football project where he has had the greatest impact. Alan has been working tirelessly to bring together the local gang members in a diverse community, something that has not been achieved despite several previous attempts. He has overcome a serious illness and returned to the project showing huge amounts of strength and will power become a crucial role model to these young people on the project and inspired other young people to volunteer at a number of YMCA projects. “ The world is always judging young people, putting us in boxes. It’s up to us to change the way we’re perceived.” Alans biggest inspiration is George, his line manager at YMCA West London. George has overcome his own challenge which has given Alan the reassurance he has needed to strive. The determination George has shown has inspired Alan to help others, giving other young people the opportunities he could have only dreamed of.

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