On her return to the UK, Joanne has continued to raise awareness about these issues she experienced overseas. Photo: Richard Williams/Southport Visiter

Y Care International volunteer, Joanne Lee has won a place in the semi-final stages of the YMCA Youth Matters Award. Joanne has been nominated for Young Volunteer of the Year after spending three months tackling poverty in Liberia with the International Citizen Service (ICS).

Joanne developed a passion for helping young people in need after being placed in care at a young age. She is trustee of YMCA Sefton and serves as a Young Advisor for Sefton Council for Voluntary Service. Through these roles, Joanne works with community leaders and decision makers to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard.

Joanne also served Y Care International as part of our overseas volunteering programme in Liberia. A testament to her commitment, Joanne fundraised £110 over her £800 target for the trip.

Joanne worked side by side with Liberian volunteers over three months to tackle poverty in Monrovia and Kakata. Health services are limited in these communities and most do not meet the needs of young people.

I was overwhelmed just to be nominated, so hearing that I had been shortlisted was a massive surprise and I feel so humbled to have been recognised for my volunteering work both locally and internationally. My friends were so proud to hear that I had been nominated. I even received so many lovely supportive messages from my friends in Liberia when they heard about the shortlisting, including “I hope you do well, you are definitely our Volunteer of the Year either way”. The responses I have had have been so lovely and touching and it is humbling and emotional to know that my work has made a difference and has touched people.

Joanne Lee

“I have to comment on the continuous support from both my local YMCA and Y Care International throughout my ICS journey and beyond. I volunteer to use my time productively, meet new people and connect with my community, to learn new skills and to contribute to causes that I am passionate about. I do not volunteer for the appreciation or to win awards, but it is SUCH an incredible feeling to have the chance to be celebrated in this way. Thank you!”

Joanne and her team also renovated an existing private latrine, converting it into a public bathroom. This benefitted those who do not have their own private bathroom and encouraged a shift in behaviour around defecating in public to help reduce illnesses spread through human waste.

On her return to the UK, Joanne has continued to raise awareness about these issues she experienced overseas and those within her own community in Sefton.

You can vote for Joanne here: www.ymca.org.uk/young-volunteer-of-the-year

Online voting will close at midnight on Friday 25th August 2017.