Online voting is now open at www.ymca.org.uk. You have until midnight on Friday 14 August to vote for your finalist. Photo: YMCA England Online voting is now open at www.ymca.org.uk. You have until midnight on Friday 14 August to vote for your finalist.

Josh Lewis 23, from Swansea YMCA, volunteered for Togo YMCA through our International Citizen Service (ICS) has been nominated for YMCA England’s Youth Matters Award – ‘Young Volunteer of the Year’.

Life hasn’t been all easy for Josh. Growing up in a poor area in Wales brought him face-to-face with the crime and drug use it’s easy for young people to fall into when they are in tough situations. But instead of living his life this way, Josh got involved with YMCA Swansea and chose to take the opportunity of a lifetime volunteering abroad with ICS  and Y Care International. Read his full story here…

Josh from Swansea volunteered abroad in Togo and is now nominated for a YMCA Youth Matters award.

“Volunteering abroad was always something I wanted to do but I never really thought I’d get the opportunity to do it.” YMCA England’s ‘Young Volunteer of the Year’ award recognises the exceptional achievements of a young person who has overcome significant obstacles to make a real difference to their lives and their community through voluntary work. Josh’s placement took him to join the work of YMCA Togo – which saw him surprise himself by teaching a class of 100 children and visit young people in a Togolese prison, trapped by the justice system.

Seeing the petty crimes which had landed them in prison for startling sentences but how the YMCA Togo support was helping them to turn their lives around really hit home for Josh, and he returned to Wales with a renewed appreciation for home and a drive to make a positive difference in other young people’s lives. “The support the young prisoners in Togo received from YMCA meant that they turned their lives around, which made relate to my own life in Wales and how I was able to get out of being involved in the crime I saw all around me.” Now Josh can be found harnessing his drive by volunteering part-time at Swansea YMCA using skills from his ICS placement to support youth workers and lead sessions for young LGBT people in the area. To find out more about Josh and vote for him to win this award click here. Voting ends on 14th August.