Didcot TRAIN Youth Project


The Celebration Event was about recognising all of our young people as well as a selection of our volunteers who epitomise what being a volunteer in a youth charity is all about.
The contribution of these volunteers - Noora, Naomi, Alice and Georg - makes TRAIN and ensures that all the amazing things that we heard about this evening can happen. Their unique dedication and hard work can sometimes go unseen, so we wanted to highlight them in this way. A huge thank you to you all!

Noora gave up her career and high paid job to give back to the community and she chose TRAIN. The work she has done has been essential and includes: policy work, business planning, legal research, being home contact for trips, coming on detached, helping young people with their CVs, collaboration with other agencies and putting the young person forward for Rotary Youth Leadership course,  which we know changed his life. Noora has given us over 778 hours voluntary work and even though she now has a career in the voluntary sector she still gives us 7 hours a week voluntary time.

Naomi has been working incredibly hard studying for her youth work degree. She has given over 110 hours of volunteer work to TRAIN, helping with detached sesssions and community events and ensuring we were able to go on trips.

"The Other Alice" has given over 100 hours volunteering to TRAIN. She has been a life line to detached sessions and additional programmes like generation heart beats and the music project and straight after the Celebration Event gave up her whole weekend to accomany two young people on a  young leaders residential.

Georg has given 40 hours of his time as a volunteer and with his expert skateboarding skills he has enabled us to start working with a new group of young people at the skate park, including introducing one of the girls to skateboarding. He was a key worker for the boys fundraising and will be going on the Corby trip next week.


We have worked with hundreds of young people over the last year. However some young people have actively engaged in positive activities with TRAIN to better themselves.

The positive activities they have got involved with include trampolining, ice skating, planning trips, music workshops, board games sessions and our mentoring programme.

So at our Celebration Event we recognised all these young people for their achievements too.

We have a core group of young people that are achieving great things. The Young Ambassadors Programme is starting to be developed to equip young people with the skills and experience to lead their peers and to become a voice within their community and TRAIN.

So at our Celebration Event we introduced six brilliant young people as official Young Ambassadors and also thanked them for everything they have achieved over the past year.

The next award was given to 3 young people who have given back to TRAIN through fundraising. The boys wanted to organise a trip to Corby, an indoor skate park. They met often in the office to plan the trip and also how they were going to generate the money needed for them to go.
The 3 young people decided to sell cakes at the Didcot Street Fair. Together with their families they baked so many cakes and made it possible for the boys to raise over £210. Well done!

We are all looking forward to the Corby trip which is happening on the 19th February.

The next award was for two young people who completed the National Citizens Award.

The National Citizens Service (NCS) helps young people to build skills for work and life, giving them the opportunity to take on new challenges and meet new friends. NCS brings young people together from different backgrounds and helps them develop greater confidence, self-awareness and responsibility. It encourages personal and social development by working on skills like leadership, teamwork and communication. Participants develop a social action project to deal with a local issue they are passionate about, and spend 30 hours putting the project into action in their community.

These two girls had a short time away from home and took part in a team project that raised awareness of the importance of youth work. A massive well done to both of them for completing the programme.

The next award was for a young person who has worked with TRAIN for many years. He told us more about his experience on the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) programme, which TRAIN enabled him to access. This had been something of a turning point in his life. One of the main things he had learnt was to be less judgemental about people from backgrounds different to his own.

The awards we recognised first at the Celebration Event was for two young people who attended a Young Leaders programme in August, through Oxfordshire Youth. We watched a short film about their experience and were impressed with what they had achieved.

Our annual Celebration Event is taking place on Friday evening, 3rd February, 6.30-8pm at Didcot Civic Hall. MP Ed Vaizey, our Patron, will attend and present the young people with awards for their achievements over the past year. As well as the young people and their families we hope that many of our supporters and partner organisations will be able to join us to hear about the successes of the past year and celebrate with us. A cold buffet and soft drinks will be provided.

We were delighted to vote in and welcome Laura Dennis and Luke O'Neil as new trustees of TRAIN at our Special General Meeting on 6th December. They are a great addition to our team, bringing with them many useful skills.

Laura writes:
I originally trained as a Social Worker, but found that my real passion lay in working with young people, particularly in the charity sector. I've seen that young people can do incredible things when given the tools to do it, and someone who believes in them.
Alongside being a Trustee for TRAIN, I also work at Oxfordshire Youth as the Training Manager, creating and coordinating training programmes for young people.
I first heard about TRAIN's work through my role at Oxfordshire Youth, and now am fortunate to line manage our Lead Youth Worker, Alice, and support the great work she does.

Luke writes:
Having been involved with youth organisations for the past 12 years, I have never ceased to be inspired by both the services and people who devote their energy to nurturing talent, encouraging aspiration and delivering opportunities to disadvantaged young people, empowering and enabling them to reach their full potential. I spend most of my time as Head of Client Services at a regional charity in the South East of England, and also as member of the Foyer Federation Quality Council, overseeing the accreditation of Young People’s accommodation and training services nationally. I first took an interest and became involved with TRAIN in September 2016 and was instantly impressed by the genuine passion and desire of all those involved with the charity to make a positive impact on the lives of young people living in Didcot and on the community as a whole.

We are delighted to have recently recruited two fantastic new part-time youth workers - Justina Petkunaite, who started at TRAIN on 16th January (pictured) and Karolina Dobrzycka, who will start on 20th February (photo to follow).

Justina Petkunaite is an experienced and JNC qualified professional youth worker. She holds a Youth Work BA (hons) degree and has worked in Youth Work for over seven years.
One of her most valuable experiences is her role of Senior Youth Worker in the open-access youth centre called Sweatbox. This has involved supervising the practice of over 53 voluntary and paid staff aged between 11 and over 18, planning and delivering residentials, building a positive rapport with the young people attending and effective signposting and safeguarding.
She has had a significant amount of experience in working with a wide range of young people in a variety of different settings and provisions. She has a passion for empowering young people, nurturing and encouraging their participation in the work being delivered, and aiding them in learning new skills, improving their confidence in themselves and making a positive impact upon their lives.

Karolina Dobrzycka graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pedagogy: Protective-educational work. Currently she is writing a thesis to complete a Master’s degree in Pedagogy: Counselling and psychopedagogic consulting.
She gained her first work experience at the Local Committee for Protection of the Rights of the Child and Crisis Intervention Centre in Leszno, Poland. Her activities there included working as a family assistant with women and children affected by domestic violence or homelessness. She designed and realized her own projects as local initiatives. Those included preventive workshops about sexting and about cyberbullying
At the moment she is finishing an EVS project in Rezekne, Latvia, in which she is a volunteer in the youth centre, working with kids and teenagers aged 3-25 from varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds. She delivers English lessons, creative workshops and organize free time activities for the Russian, Polish and Latvian communities.
She loves working with children and teenagers using non-formal education methods.

On Sunday 18th December we took 18 young people on a great Midnight Ice Skating trip.

This was first cited by Alice Dore whilst doing detached youth work. She has had 10 years’ experience of taking young people from different organisations to the event. Interest in the event was really high and so the plan was created.

This was planned as a young persons celebration for the end of the Autumn school term. The objective was to take young people from Didcot to an event which was Oxfordshire wide. We wanted to give them the experience of:

• Integrating with other young people
• An opportunity to come together with other likeminded young people, to potentially make new friends
• Learn how to avoid judgemental behaviour, gain tolerance and acceptance
• To find similarities that they had not previously considered
• Learn to how to break down barriers
• Learn to get along with others.
and most of all to have fun!

This event was planned and organised in collaboration with Oxfordshire youth and other voluntary sector youth projects from across the county.

The feedback that we have gained since has been:
• “It was sic”
• “That was the highlight of Christmas”
• “We definitely want to do that again”

In our detached work leading up to the event the young people were talking about Midnight Ice Skating on every occasion. We are delighted to report that it was a defining event in the programme of TRAIN events and topped off the year in a really positive way. We see this as becoming established as a key event in the annual programme of TRAIN.

The trip helped the young people with building trust, issues of self-esteem and confidence. The majority of those who went on this trip said that it had helped them to feel better about themselves.

What a night! We saw over 80 young people we knew and some newbies! But best of all Brandon, Kieran and Blaise made £180.21 to go towards a trip to Corby skatepark by baking and selling cakes! A massive well done to them and their family's for all the hard work put in!!

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