BLOG: Inspirational young worker becomes a Youth Ambassador

March 8, 2017

LEANNE is Events and Marketing Assistant at YMCA Humber. Her first blog post looks at becoming a YMCA Youth Ambassador, what the opportunity means to her and hopes for the role going forward.

My name is Leanne, I am Events and Marketing assistant at YMCA Humber and I have been with the organisation for around 18 months.

However, my role as Events and Marketing assistant is a new role that I have only been in for a couple of months. The opportunity to become a Youth Ambassador was something I had heard about and I instantly knew I wanted to be involved. I was eager to be a voice for young people, to make a change and to learn and develop new skills.

The Ambassador Journey

I was so happy when I was told I could apply and filled out my application straight away. I was given a date and told where I had to travel, this was probably the scariest part as I had never driven to London before or even travelled on the Tube. However, I did not let this deter me and looked forward to my trip.

Upon arrival at YMCA England I was greeted by a man named Ken Montgomery, who is the Head of International Affairs. Ken was really welcoming and instantly made me feel at ease. Everyone that travelled from other YMCAs had the opportunity to introduce themselves and it was great to see such a broad variety of people from around the country. Ken started off by welcoming us all to the Youth Ambassadors Programme and we had an introduction to YMCA England. It was a really good feeling to be in a place like YMCA England and to be introduced to such great opportunities, ones we were told could take us around the world. It made me feel like part of something big. I think this is the real strength of the programme, the possibility to affect both at the local and global level.

Embrace Life Changing Opportunities

Ken explained that a Youth Ambassador is a young person within a YMCA who would like to represent the organisation and embrace life changing opportunities, experiences and training along the way. A Youth Ambassador can be anyone involved within YMCA, be it a client, resident, volunteer or staff member the only criteria that you need to meet is that you are aged 18 – 30 and that you have been involved in a national YMCA actively. Within the group of Youth Ambassadors I had the pleasure of meeting were two residents of YMCAs, managers, volunteers and members of staff from all different departments.

Ken set us all with a task to go and speak to a member of staff within YMCA England. We were all individually assigned a different member of staff from YMCA England’s team to “interview”.  I met Colin, he worked in the finance department as Systems Accountant and he had worked for YMCA England for over 20 years. It was lovely to find out that Colin had met his now wife at YMCA and they had been married over ten years, she too still worked within YMCA.

The group then stopped for lunch, YMCA England put a great spread on for us all. After lunch we had an introduction to the Youth Ambassadors Programme that was led by Liam Preston, Public Affairs Manager and Andrew  Mortimer, Communications Manager. We had the chance to hear stories about other Youth Ambassadors who had been on trips around the world engaging with other YMCAs and learning about what they are good at while sharing what our YMCAs are good at in this country. The trips consist of workshops and conferences. It was great to hear how these Youth Ambassadors had gained knowledge and understanding of other YMCAs internationally. The more I listened to their stories them more I felt thrilled to becoming part of the programme.

Making a Difference

We were then tasked with writing a bio about what YMCA means to you, what life was like before YMCA and how YMCA has changed your personal/professional life. As I had already done this bio, I was asked to do a short filmed interview about what I had written in my bio. It was quite daunting at first as I have never had a filmed interview before, the guys at YMCA England where really nice and reassuring, this made the interview less scary.

After the interview the group came back together and told their stories, it was especially great to hear stories about residents making a difference in their YMCA, hearing the obstacles they have overcome and the difference they are now making in other young people’s lives. It made me feel proud to part of an organisation that truly does seek to make a difference in young people’s lives.  I am really looking forward to what the future holds as a Youth Ambassador, and how I – as a young person – can make my voice heard. I am eagerly awaiting what the future holds as a Youth Ambassador for YMCA.

For more information on Youth Ambassadors, please visit YMCA England’s website.