Cymraeg icon Cymraeg
Cardiff Content Creators

Celebrating Youth Work excellence in Wales

Dathlu rhagoriaeth Gwaith Ieuenctid yng Nghymru

The Youth Work Excellence Awards are a chance to recognise and celebrate the outstanding youth work taking place across Wales. This year’s event is no exception with 27 youth workers and youth organisations in the finals.

The awards reflect the diverse nature of youth work in Wales and demonstrate the impact youth work and youth workers have on young people and their surrounding communities.

School based youth worker Mary has been nominated for her work with young people at Ysgol Grango in Wrexham, helping them overcome barriers such as non-attendance at school.

Kelly Powell runs GoodVibes, an LGBTQ+ youth group in Swansea. She has been a powerful force, providing a life-changing service to young people who attend the group, many of whom have experienced discrimination, bullying, and mental health issues.

The charity GISDA are shortlisted for their work providing support for homeless and vulnerable young people in Gwynedd. Services include providing accommodation, mental health support and volunteering opportunities, all delivered through the medium of Welsh.

In Newport, a partnership of organisations have been recognised for their work supporting young asylum seekers and refugees. The project was co-produced by young people and provides access to physical activities and information-based support to help widen their friendship groups and enabling them to access the support they need.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:

“Youth work plays a vital role in providing young people with safe and inclusive environments where they are supported to reach their full potential.

“It's inspiring to see the many excellent examples of youth work being recognised in this year’s awards. People and organisations working together to ensure Wales is a place where every child, young person and family can prosper.”

The Welsh Government will provide £13m of direct funding this year to help ensure local authorities and voluntary youth work organisations support young people in their local areas. This funding has trebled since 2018, reflecting the vital role it plays in supporting young people to reach their potential.

Winners will be announced at the Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Awards on Thursday 22 February, at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.


Notes to editors

Finalists are available for interview ahead of the awards ceremony on 22 February.

For more information or to arrange an interview please email or contact Jo Berry on 07811 944777

Image: Cardiff Content Creators, Cardiff Youth Service.


Newport Youth and Play Service have been nominated for their partnership work supporting young asylum seekers and refugees with independent living skills, education and employment, helping them to get involved in sport and widen their friendship groups.

Working with local role models who the young people know and trust has helped them access the support they need to avoid falling into crime, gangs and exploitation.

Newport Youth and Play Service has worked with a range of partners such as Positive Futures, Newport Yemeni Community Association, The Gap Wales, Maindee Primary School to deliver the project which has been recognised with an award from the Levelling the Playing Field.

Marko arrived in Newport from Sudan in 2018 aged 14. After a very lonely start, he has embraced every opportunity to play sport with Newport's many partners, including the Newport Youth and Play Service.

With them, Marko has now earned his Sports Leadership Level 1 qualification and is on his way to completing his Duke of Edinburgh bronze award.

Chloe Chandler, Wellbeing and Homelessness Coordinator at Newport Youth and Play Service, said:

“Marco is so good at setting up the teams that we practically leave our football sessions for him to run now. He is a great example of how our support network can help young people thrive.”


GISDA is a charity which provides support for homeless and vulnerable young people in Gwynedd. Services include providing accommodation, mental health support and volunteering opportunities, all delivered through the medium of Welsh.

The charity provides accommodation for 62 young people in Gwynedd who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Key workers provide a support package tailored to young people’s needs, giving them an understanding of their rights and responsibilities, fostering a sense of independence, and equipping them with the skills they’ll need later in life.

GISDA also runs weekly LGBTQ+ youth clubs which empower young people to embrace their identities with confidence. Taking place in Caernarfon, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Pwllheli, the clubs provide an inclusive environment where young people can share interests, chat and take part in organised activities.

One of the young people who has received support from the charity said:

"Without GISDA's help I wouldn't be independent, I wouldn't start college, I wouldn't start going to the gym and I wouldn't have an apartment myself, also I wouldn't be able to improve my mental health as I have been struggling a lot but the GISDA staff have always made sure I'm ok.”


Nominated in the ‘Rising New Star’ category, Mary is a school-based youth worker based at Ysgol Grango.

Based at the school, Mary helps young people with their personal, social and educational development, overcoming barriers such as non-attendance at school to enable them to reach their full potential.

Mary works with pupils in a voluntary relationship, helping to build trust so she can support them during their period of transition from school to the outside world by enabling them to gain a voice, influence and place in society.

Working with pupils either on a one-to-one basis, dealing with a particular issue in a group or working with families along with other agencies, Mary has the right skills to deliver positive outcomes for the children and families who need a bit of extra support on a wide range of issues.

Year 9 Pupil:
‘I think Mary is fabulous and really nice. She has helped me with lots of my issues, taught me new ways of dealing with my feelings, and little tricks and techniques. I think she is wonderful and thank you for all the work you do’.


“After Mary came to see my daughter at home, she seemed really happier in herself. Mary is a very approachable person with the loveliest nature. She has helped my daughter understand herself through a fair bit of the anxieties she is dealing with. I really can’t thank her enough for the work she has been doing with myself and my daughter.”


As LGBTQ+ Coordinator at YMCA Swansea, Kelly Powell runs the GoodVibes youth club, a lifeline for LGBTQ+ young people aged 11-25 in Swansea.

LGBTQ+ young people face numerous challenges, including discrimination, prejudice, bullying, and mental health issues. Kelly's leadership addresses these challenges and empowers young people to embrace their identities and exercise their rights.  

The young people attending GoodVibes describe it as their safe place, their family away from home. Many rely on the group as being central to their lives and identity. Kelly’s commitment to creating a safe, accepting, and empowering space for LGBTQ+ young people, has a ripple effect that extends far beyond her immediate role.

By speaking to young people to identify gaps in provision she has expanded the LGBTQ+ service.

Some powerful testimonies from youth club members illustrate the life-changing impact Kelly’s work makes:

"I’m no longer afraid to be who I am. And I know I’m not alone. It’s easier for me to talk to people and accept myself for who I am." - M.

“Kelly has personally made me feel safe and confident in myself by reassuring me, giving me advice with my issues whether it be identity or personal, even just listening to me” – D

“Kelly is so lovely every time I come to GoodVibes. I’m happy to see her and she always listens to my problems and supports me I’m so grateful for her – D

“No matter what situation you are in or have been in Kelly will sit with you, listen, no judge and give you the best advice you could ever hear.” – M


Nominated in the digital innovation category, Cardiff Youth Service’s digital team have enabled a group of young people to establish an exciting content creation group, the Young Creators.

The project gives youngsters aged 11-19 experience of film making, editing, journalism and photography, the tools they need to create a high quality digital content.

With the involvement of Doug Green, a retired teacher in broadcasting based in Cardiff but originally from California, an exchange project was set up with a group of American young people enabling the youngsters from Cardiff to experience American culture and make new friends.

The long distance partnership lead to the young creators appearing live on CHSTV, a student broadcast channel made by young people in Cardiff.

Some feedback from a parent included:

“Lucia had a great time on the course. She surprised me how well she settled and got involved, also learning new skills and being out of her comfort zone. After an extremely difficult year at school she's probably not attended a full school day in the last 6 months, yet she attended the entire course and left home every day full of smiles and enthusiasm and came home with lots to tell. Something I haven't seen in a long time.”


Finalist Carmen Soraya Kelly from Cardiff is the founder of Gloves are On, a charity providing support to young people and their families when they need it the most, on a range of sensitive issues such as mental health and cancer.

Having overcome a number of challenges in her own life, surviving cancer, living with a disability and growing up in an under-privileged household with a notorious father, her own experiences have motivated her to help others in a similar situation. She has made a remarkable impact on the lives of many young people.