Leading Youth Work

We celebrated Youth Work Week 2023 with a special event with pioneering leaders in the youth work sector.

Sharon Lovell MBE (NYAS Cymru), Marco Gil-Cervantes (ProMo-Cymru) and Gethin Jones (Ceredigion County Council) shared their leadership journeys within the youth work sector.

The speakers shared their own personal stories, strategic approaches to developing leadership and how they support young people across Wales.

Hosted by Gavin Gibbs (Senior Youth Lead, Torfaen Youth Service), Paul Glaze (Chief Executive, CWVYS) and the National Academy for Educational Leadership Wales.

Follow this link to take a look at the recorded talk – Leading Youth Work – National Leadership Wales (nael.cymru)

National Executive Director, NYAS Cymru

Sharon was first introduced to youth work as a young person herself whilst attending a youth centre. She became actively involved in Youthlink Wales; a peer-led youth organisation that focused on educating and informing young people on drugs, alcohol, HIV/AIDS. This enabled her to work throughout Wales with voluntary and statutory youth services. In 1994 she graduated with a diploma in youth and community studies from Glyndwr University, Wrexham and went on to study for a degree in Birmingham University.

After graduating, she started working in a homeless hostel for young people. It was during this time that she realised that many of the young people she was working with had been in the care system. The interconnection between homelessness and the care system became apparent. She felt passionate about the injustices young people in care faced. This led her to move into the field of advocacy and children’s rights when she became an advocate for The Children’s Society; her role was to develop advocacy services for children and young people in local authorities. Sharon also has experience of working as a CEO for Cardiff Youth Service, establishing the Caerphilly Youth Information Centre and worked as a volunteer in her local youth centre and Wrexham Women’s Aid.

More recently, Sharon has helped shape the advocacy agenda and landscape for Wales; she has been instrumental in ensuring that advocacy became a statutory entitlement for all children and young people in Wales, developed advocacy services across Wales and has worked in partnership with Welsh Government, ADSS and WLGA to secure a national advocacy approach for statutory advocacy provision; thus ensuring all children and young people who come into care are given an active offer of advocacy. She is currently the National Executive Director for the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS). Sharon was awarded an MBE in 2020 for services to children and young people.

Marco Gil-Cervantes

Chief Executive, ProMo-Cymru

Marco has led ProMo-Cymru to become a leading social enterprise with a co-operative ethos. His expertise is in, social economics, cultural democracy and the empowerment of marginalised voices.

Under Marco’s leadership, ProMo-Cymru has developed a diverse range of forward thinking, transformational and innovative projects, with the aim of supporting young people and communities.

Marco is a long-standing executive member and treasurer of CWVYS, the Council for Wales Voluntary Youth Service, Chair of the Wales Internet Safety Partnership, Joint Chair of the Youth Work Joint Strategic Representative Group and Steering Group Member of Race Alliance Wales.

Marco was born in Andalucia, Spain and came to Wales at 4 years old with his Andalucian flamenco loving parents. Marco plays Touch Rugby and has played in senior teams for Wales in a World Cup and three European Cup Tournaments. He plays percussion in bands and cycles.

Gethin Jones

Corporate Manager, Support and Prevention Service, Ceredigion County Council

Gethin Jones began his career working with children and young people in the voluntary sector, before progressing into Youth and Community Work with Ceredigion County Council, where he has been employed for the past 10 years. Gethin has been fortunate to experience a range of different settings, including education and Pupil Referral Units; rural outreach, project management, community and stakeholder engagement, and has organised and managed a number of international youth exchanges. Gethin has over 5 years’ experience of managing different services and teams including school-based youth work, community youth work, school behaviour support, youth engagement and progression and youth justice service. Currently, Gethin is Corporate Manager for Support and Prevention Services in Ceredigion and has responsibility to lead 50 staff across 4 multi-disciplined teams and has established strong links and relationships with several partners across the public, voluntary and private sectors.