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Meeting Helen Mary Jones HELEN MARY JONES, CEO of

Youth Cymru, met with The Herald to speak about the work of the organisation she heads does, projects that they are currently undertaking, her role as CEO, and the changes that have happened in society for young people. Youth Cymru provides training for

youth workers, volunteers and, in the office the day we met, there was a group of youth workers learning about coding on a programme sponsored and funded by Microsoft. The Herald asked Helen Mary Jones

what tools and services are needed in modern day society and the pressures surrounding young people trying to fulfil their potential. She told us: “Young people certainly

need a lot of support. It can be quite a difficult time to be a young person. We know that austerity has hit young people a lot harder than it has older people in our community. Everything from rates of youth unemployment to the difficulties of being able to find a house that you can afford to rent or buy, and particularly for those young people who don’t do as well as they might like to at school or who prefer to learn in a different way, youth work and youth services are a really, really important way of getting a new start in life.” She explained that Youth Cymru

works with a network of 203 organisations across the whole of Wales, who work with young people in broad and varied

Rhian Morgan

Ceredigion Reporter

ways. These can include small youth clubs that run in a churches by parents on a voluntary basis, to whole county youth services and youth justice services. Youth Cymru’s role in this ranges

from giving practical advice on running a service to working and supporting young people with complex needs. They also have partnerships with organisations across the UK, working with some big businesses such as UPS, O2, Starbucks and they are about to start a new project with Lloyds bank to help young people develop money management skills. The subject of Brexit came up during

our conversation. She explained a project that will bring young people from all parts of the UK together with senior parliamentarians in Cardiff to discuss what young people want to be protected from during the negotiations, as the UK leaves the European Union. Youth Cymru, as well as the National

Assembly, support the idea of young people voting at 16. Helen Mary explains: “Because

most young people at 16 are still in college or school, that means you could have ballot boxes in school and college and the schools could be taking a role in encouraging people how to vote… The system has changed about how young people are registered to vote. And it used to be in the old days that

the head of the household, dad or mum, would fill in everybody’s names on the form - you can’t do that anymore. So we have to make sure that young people are individually registering to vote and it’s easier to do that in schools, colleges and youth groups where you’ve got young people engaged. But I also think young people need to understand who decides what where. So one of the things, for example, we do as a charity is we run a training course for youth workers called ‘Who Decides’, because it’s actually quite complicated.” As CEO of the charity, Helen

Mary’s role varies from overseeing the charity’s latest projects to ensuring the sustainability of the financial aspects as well as speaking at committee meetings. She also said: “It entails the fun bits, which is going out spending time with young people, monitoring our projects and seeing how they’re working.” She explained about ‘The Big Music Project’ which helps young people develop employability skills that include team working, budgeting, etc. She continued, explaining her role

during the ‘Kaya Music Festival’ which was run through Youth Cymru: “Of course, all the time I’m there with my clicker, counting how many people we’ve got taking part and grabbing hold of young people and asking them ‘how is this working for you?’” One of the most rewarding aspects

of Helen Mary’s role is to see young people and youth work being recognised

CEO of Youth Cymru, Helen Mary Jones: ‘Young people certainly need a lot of support’

by decision makers and society. She explained that five young people along with youth workers from the UK went for dinner at Buckingham Palace, hosted by HRH Princess Anne. The young person from Wales had previously experienced difficulties with her education as she was also caring for her mother. Through the support she’d received by youth services, she had been able to go to university and study for a degree. Visiting the palace and meeting Princess Anne was a great experience for her. Social media has been a huge

‘Austerity has hit young people a lot harder than it has older people’: With Youth Cymru

development in recent years, frequently increasing pressure on young people, including an array of helpful advantages and serious problems, as Helen Mary explained: “For example, you’re a young person living in a rural area, being able to stay in touch with your friends over the holidays and at weekends through your Facebook page and Twitter can be really helpful. Young people are doing some really effective campaigning on issues that matter to them. We took a group of young people last year to the Senedd to talk about the need for a ‘Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales’, like the Scottish Youth Parliament, and our young people were tweeting their AMs, requesting that they come out and talk to them… That’s a public thing and the AM knows that that that young person is there and they will come to respond.” She continued to say what social media means to her and how we need to work with young people around issues such as bullying as she said: “We need to understand better as parents, as youth workers, as teachers, so that we can help young people manage it.” As the decades have passed, society

has changed with youth work becoming highly regulated with health and safety and safeguarding. Helen Mary said that she was proud of the charity’s work but that many challenges lay ahead: “We’ve

DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a handbag from an elderly lady in Aberystwyth. The incident took place on Terrace

Road, at approximately 3.30pm, on Monday, September 19. A young man on a bicycle

approached the lady and lifted her handbag from her arm. She did not sustain any physical

injury during the incident. The male is described as white,

with a thin pale face and medium build. He was wearing a black shiny

been there to support those organisations that support young people, especially some of the young people who need it most, and for a long time now. I very much hope that we’ll be there to do it in what’s a very rapidly changing environment for young people with lots of challenges around leaving the European Union and what the loss of that money will mean for communities in Wales and directly for youth work in Wales. We get thousands of pounds a year from the Erasmus, which is an EU programme. So, this is going to be a challenging few years going forward. But young people will even more need the support from us.” The charity has been running since

2003 but dates back 75 years to the ‘Cardiff and District Federation of Girls’ Clubs’. When asked about the long term future for Youth Cymru, Helen Mary explained that they will need to work hard to ensure that they are financially sustainable and build on their partnerships in Britain and across Europe: “We are very lucky, we get a grant from the Welsh Government, whether that will be affordable in the future, we don’t know, so we need to build on our range of partners both here in Wales and in the other nations and regions. We’ve become part of a European network of organisations that support youth clubs, because we need to make sure that once we’re not a part of the EU anymore, we don’t get cut off from those wider networks… What we do know is that we’re needed, that young people and those who work with us in Wales tell us that we’re a needed organisation, and we just have to find ways of making sure that we’ll still be here in the next 75 years.” Young people and youth workers

can get involved with the charity through a variety of means and the charity is always eager to hear from young people. For more information, please visit their website:

Police investigating handbag theſt

zipped top and matching trousers. The victim’s handbag was

later recovered in public toilets. Approximately £50 cash had been stolen. PC Adam Foale said: “Anyone

who witnessed this incident or who may have seen a young white man on a bicycle around that time and location is urged to call 101 with information. This offender targeted a vulnerable older lady and we are keen to catch him to prevent this type of offence being repeated.”

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