AN INSPIRATIONAL youth worker needs your votes to help her scoop a national award.
Nicola Harding (27), from Wath, is in the running for a YMCA Young Worker of the Year Award.
The dedicated mentor works at town centre community hub MyPlace, supporting disadvantaged youngsters in Eastwood.
She is up against four others from around the country for a spot in the final of the Youth Matters Awards 2017.
Nicola said: “I am so flattered to be up an award purely for doing the job I love.
“I hope everyone will support me and vote. To make it through to the final three would be amazing.”
For the last three years, Nicola has been working predominantly with youths from ethnic minorities, via the Big Lottery-funded project Reaching Communities.
Due to end in September 2018, the scheme aims to improve emotional resilience, raise aspirations and increase confidence.
“Many of the young people who access the project are Roma Slovak, Roma Czech and from other Eastern European backgrounds,” said Nicola.
“They live in a deprived area of the town, which means they may be at risk of growing up with low aspirations.
“Some young people have language or cultural barriers, which can lead to difficulties at school or within their community.
“But in three years we have seen many positive changes — there are young people who now go to school regularly, want to go to university, get an apprenticeship or one day run their own business.
“They have also taught me a thing or two — they’re an incredibly talented and creative bunch of young people.”
Nicola, a professional photographer and singer-songwriter, took an interest in youth work after being asked to photograph a local club.
She became a volunteer then a YMCA youth worker, joining MyPlace in 2013 as its Youth Arts Development Worker.
“It’s fun for me to go to work,” she said. “I get to share all my creative skills to bring out the best in young people.”
Paul Hough, chairman of YMCA White Rose, said: “Nicola is making a huge difference to the lives of young people from ethnic minorities, who can become very isolated in our communities.
“She has earned their respect and trust and has also worked tirelessly on a project warning young people about the risks of child sexual exploitation via social media.”
Voting runs until midnight on Friday, August 25, with results announced on August 29.
The awards ceremony this autumn will be hosted by winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, Michelle Dewberry.
Vote for Nicola online at www.ymca.org.uk/awards. For more information on YMCA White Rose, visit www.ymcawhiterose.org.uk.
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