7 November 2023

YMCA East Surrey celebrated a win last weekend for our inclusive projects, Yippee and Yip4Youth, at the esteemed Youth Matters Awards.

YMCA England and Wales welcomed 450 members of the YMCA Federation to this year’s Youth Matters awards show, which was held at Chelsea Football Club on Friday 3rd November. In a night filled with emotion, laughter and celebration of the past year, honours were presented by the dynamic and talented comedian and Taskmaster favourite, Fern Brady.

“We are extremely proud to have been presented with the Diversity Award,” says YMCA Chief Executive, Ian Burks. “The overwhelming support from our community has propelled us to this extraordinary achievement, and our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all who cast their votes. Together, our impact resonates even louder, and we can extend our reach to touch the lives of countless more young people in our community.”

The award underscores YMCA East Surrey’s unswerving dedication to creating positive change, nurturing growth, and enriching the lives of local young people. Last year, the charity delivered 32,500 hours of care through the Yippee and Yip4Youth schemes, providing vital play and youth Short Breaks for children and young people with disabilities. Next year, that figure is expected to rise. The projects offer a safe haven, exciting activities and invaluable respite for families, ensuring inclusivity, support and peace of mind to those who face daily challenges.

Eight-year-old Jacob has a rare genetic disorder, resulting in specific learning disabilities which include global developmental delay, sensory processing issues, behavioural issues and speech, language and communication needs. For the past two years, he has enjoyed attending sessions at Yippee, YMCA East Surrey’s warm and welcoming playscheme for children aged 5-11 with a wide range of disabilities and complex needs.

His mother, Sophie, says:

“When Jacob is at home, my day has to revolve around him. He can’t self-play and he needs my focus all of the time. Without Jacob’s time at Yippee, I would never get any time to myself. The playscheme has been good for him – his communication is improving and he loves the 100% attention he gets! I know he’s safe, so I can relax while he’s there. There’s not a bad word I could say about the playscheme. It’s brilliant.”

YMCA’s Youth Matters Awards represent the pinnacle of recognition, honouring the accomplishments of young individuals, volunteers, staff and projects throughout England and Wales. These awards celebrate their tenacity, inspiration, and unwavering commitment to creating transformative change.

Find out more about YMCA East Surrey’s Yippee and Yip4Youth projects