Matt grew up in Leatherhead, attended local schools and was a popular lad in the community. After moving to secondary school at Therfield, Matt was introduced to Bfree, an after school drop-in youth cafe run by LYP for local young people. Bfree was a huge part of Matt’s teenage years and he found himself attending most afternoons from age 11 all the way up to turning 18! He also got stuck in to all the spin off projects, attending the Blaze boys group, local football projects and the Freestyle youth camp. Freestyle left a special impression on Matt, helping him escape boredom in the school holidays and also giving him some very fond memories. Attending successive Freestyle camps, Matt made new friends and also built key relationships with the LYP youth workers and volunteers.
From the trust and rapport built at these projects Matt was then asked to join an LYP trip going out to South Africa in 2010. The South Africa trip was an incredible experience for Matt. Not only did he learn about culture outside of the Leatherhead bubble, but Matt also encountered social action projects, learned about different communities, and discovered a personal faith in God. This experience planted a seed in Matt, and he was keen to throw himself in other opportunities and international trips. After attending an LYP trip to Romania in 2011, Matt developed a strong love for the country and particularly the Roma Gypsy people. LYP continued to run these trips and Matt made sure he was on as many as he was allowed! A particular favorite was the Romania youth camp, an international twist on the Freestyle camp he had come to know and love from home.
Some of these trips included faith elements, including Christian groups working with the Gypsy community in Romania, and Christian projects in South Africa, plus the Christian ethos behind LYP’s work. At this time Matt found himself with lots of questions and a burning curiosity about faith. On a mission to help him explore some of these questions LYP youth workers Alex Ball, Joe Crome and Jude Crome introduced Matt and his friends to an Alpha course. After completing the course Matt and two of his closest friends decided to get baptised in 2012.
Matt went on to complete his GCSE’s and move on to College in 2014, studying Hospitality and Travel and Tourism. After leaving college in 2014, he was left with the big decision of what to do next. With the idea of escaping the confusion, LYP Manager Joe Crome helped Matt set up a 3-month summer trip to Romania. Over the 3 months, Matt managed to build strong relationships with a Roma community in Romania; building a house for a family and making many friends in the process. Romania was a huge time of growth for Matt and gave him a real sense of independence and maturity, whilst also nourishing his passion for helping people in need.
After returning to England, full of passion but with no concrete plans, Matt tried to find his next steps. LYP Youth Worker Andy Gill saw the potential in Matt and his willingness to give back to the community he had grown up in, so he offered Matt the opportunity to manage the newly launched social enterprise, Allsaints Coffee Shop! This opportunity was ideal for Matt, who with an interest in Coffee, a background in Hospitality from college, and a passion for getting local young people engaged in work, went about this new role with enthusiasm. Matt’s dedication and thirst for development were clear and he has lead the Allsaints team of young people with a willingness and maturity beyond his years. Matt has enjoyed helping the young apprentices learn the ropes, mentored and supported them through the difficult times and pushed them to be the best they can be. He has also helped shape a unique space for the community of Leatherhead to enjoy. Today Allsaints is a thriving café, with a friendly and communal feel. This is thanks to Matt, and his inspiring story of growth with LYP. Please pop down to Allsaints soon for a coffee and a cake!