2 November 2020

Following submissions by staff, YMCA East Surrey has had not one but two young people selected for inclusion in YMCA’s Youth Matters Week (2-6 November), which recognises exceptional young people who have overcome significant obstacles to make a real difference to their lives and their community.

Chailey Turner (26) and Nicole Tootill (28) are two of just 10 extraordinary young people selected to be featured in Youth Matters Week in celebration of their incredible journey and achievements.

Youth Matters Week 2020 is an adaptation of YMCA’s Youth Matters Awards, a national awards programme that has been an integral part of the charity’s calendar since 2009. From Monday 2 – Friday 6 November, YMCA platforms will showcase incredible stories of young people from YMCAs across England & Wales, highlighting their inspiring journeys and championing their hopes for the future.

Chailey and Nicole were each nominated for recognition by staff and peers at YMCA East Surrey because of their strength, determination, and generosity through difficult personal journeys.


Chailey has global development delay and cerebral palsy, with associated speech and language difficulties. She has been attending YMCA East Surrey for more than five years, using their inclusive activities to learn a range of life skills including gardening, sports, and cooking.

Chailey used to be quiet and shy, but her confidence has grown so much that now she leads other young people during activities and works independently at a charity shop. While it may take time for Chailey to master a task, once she has, she supports and encourages others too, and is a wonderfully positive role model.

Nicole – Housing Services Manager

Nicole joined YMCA East Surrey as a volunteer youth worker, and her passion for helping disadvantaged young people showed as she started leading educational workshops to help them into education, work and training.

Despite having her own challenging situations alongside dyslexia, anxiety and low self-esteem, Nicole’s tremendous drive and positive outlook got her through, and young people now look to her as an example. Nicole’s support management skills saw her promoted to Housing Support Manager and she has changed the lives of so many young people, giving them a sense of purpose, hope, and strength in what they can achieve.

Ian Burks, YMCA East Surrey’s Chief Executive, says:

“We are enormously proud of both Nicole and Chailey. They are an inspiration to others, and we feel that each in their own way represents the value of quality youth work in these exceptional times.”

“Our youth-led projects and services provide a lifeline to those who are vulnerable, scared, don’t feel safe or who need extra support. Despite the current pressure on funding for youth services, it is vital that we continue to support the adults of the future.”

YMCA East Surrey is a vibrant, local charity helping vulnerable children, young people and adults to belong, contribute and thrive. Their wide range of projects and activities aim to help create happy, healthy, and connected communities.

In the last twelve months, YMCA East Surrey has provided a home to 91 young people facing homelessness. The local charity received 164 housing applications between May and June this year, which was an increase of 412% from 2019. YMCA East Surrey’s youth workers engaged with 574 young people through detached youth work or youth clubs.

Read more about Chailey’s story