CHRISTMAS came early for South Wight Area Youth Partnership (SWAY) as it received £1,663.04 from the Readers' Choice Cash for Charity appeal, organised by the County Press's parent company, Newsquest.

The money was given to the Isle of Wight charity earlier this week, after you voted for SWAY to receive a share of the £20,000 fund.

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Eight charities from the south of England were shortlisted to receive a share — and SWAY was the Isle of Wight's nominated charity.

Isle of Wight County Press:

SWAY's trip to the Lake District 2021. Picture courtesy of SWAY.

SWAY is a youth organisation which helps youngsters aged 11 to 25 in the rural areas of South Wight, stretching from Whitwell to Brook.

They enjoy a wide range of activities, day trips and longer residential trips to places such as the Lake District.

In the past year, activities have included triathlons, Minecraft model making, geocaching, kayaking at Newtown, disc golf, butterfly walks, orienteering, Head-hunters, barbecues, wildlife walks, Zoom baking, kayaking, raft building, firepit evenings, and tennis and football tournaments, to name a few!

Supported by local parish councils and churches, SWAY aims to give hope and focus for the youth and families of South Wight and seeks to develop young people's skills and talents, to help them to become more independent and responsible.

SWAY is passionate about getting young people together and giving them opportunities to grow, work, play, and fulfil their potential.

As well as Isle of Wight churches, it also has links with the Harbour Church in Portsmouth, which is the university students' church, and a recent trip to Gunwharf Quay for a meal and to visit the Harbour Church proved popular.

Another success was the Save Our Planet weekend in September, when members walked and camped along the Isle of Wight coastline and talked about ecosystems, conservation and the impact of climate change along the way.

During the lockdowns, SWAY's innovative Zoom cooking classes provided a fun way for many young members to stay in touch.

SWAY also provides practical help and emotional support to families in the area who may require help with a wide range of challenges, including debt advice and school issues.

The charity works with a range of other Isle of Wight organisations to provide solutions to the many challenges families may face.

Isle of Wight County Press: L-R: Jo Richards, chair of SWAY; Emily Mills; Alana Coombs; Jennie Burke, SWAY family worker; Jacob Mills; and Kate Young, County Press community content editor.L-R: Jo Richards, chair of SWAY; Emily Mills; Alana Coombs; Jennie Burke, SWAY family worker; Jacob Mills; and Kate Young, County Press community content editor.

  • Click here to find out more about the work SWAY does

Established in 2014, SWAY is undoubtedly a place where friendships are forged and both home-educated children and those from schools across the area can meet and have fun.


This has become particularly important in the last two years, as Covid restrictions have meant that many normal activities have been disrupted and children and families in rural areas have felt increasingly isolated — but many SWAY activities have continued, albeit in a virtual way when necessary.

Young members are also encouraged to progress to youth leaders and to volunteer within the project and community.

Joanna Richards, chair of SWAY, said the team would like to say a tremendous thank you to every County Press reader who voted for them.

She added: "This money will go a long way towards helping us to continue to do what we do."

Member Emily Mills, 15, concluded: "SWAY is very diverse in terms of whether you have mental health issues, or physical disabilities, you can come in and not be judged. Everyone's welcome."