Friday, 14 December 2012
A young woman who grew up in a deprived area with high youth crime has just been named the YMCA’s Volunteer of the Year for her work with young people.
University of Worcester student, Jemma Masterson, has been volunteering at Worcester’s YMCA for over a year, tutoring young people with challenging behaviour.
“I was really shocked to win the award,” she said. “I was up against two people from other YMCA centres in England and didn’t think for a second that I would win.”
Jemma, who grew up in Hemel Hempstead, is in the third year of a Youth & Community Services degree and hopes to continue her work with young people after graduation.
“No-one in my family has been to university and no-one ever thought that I would either,” said the 20-year-old. “I left school with just one GCSE and really never thought I was cut out for university.
“But I have loved every minute of it and now I want to use my experience to inspire other young people who don’t think they can do it, or grow up in areas, like I did, where university is not something that people do.”
Jemma spends three days a week at the YMCA centre working with young people aged from 12 to 16, while also studying for her degree.
“I would love to work full time in youth work when I have finished my degree and make a real difference to young people who might get drawn into crime or other bad behaviour and show them that there is help and support and more to life,” she said.
Professor Dominic Upton, Associate Head of the University’s Institute of Health and Chairman of Worcester YMCA, said: “We are delighted that Jemma has won this award and been recognised for the fantastic work she does at Worcester’s YMCA. We really appreciate all of her effort and enthusiasm and know that she is making a real difference to the young people that use the centre.”