A WOMAN who has helped hundreds of young people in the Cardigan area over the past 24 years is to take a well-earned retirement.

Sally Jones is stepping down as chief executive officer at Area 43, which provides support and training to young people aged 16-25 and counselling services to those aged 10-30 from its base at Pontycleifion.

Sally has been with the charity, which was launched in 1996, almost from the beginning, joining as a volunteer in 1997 and working her way through various roles to the position she holds today.

“I had been recently widowed back then and needed time to reassess what I wanted to do,” said Sally.

“It felt like I could have an opportunity to do something that was different and at the same time make a difference. I have been there ever since.”

During that time, much has changed but the one thing that has remained a constant is the needs of young people themselves.

“Where young people come from is fairly consistent and they are experimenting and kicking against boundaries that don’t seem relevant to them,’” she said.

“We don’t always have the answers to that and perhaps in that respect, things have not changed that much but I would like to think we have made a difference in some way.”

In fact, it is the last year and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that has tested Area 43 more than anything else.

“We have always developed and been open to new ideas and ways of working and we have been catapulted into changes at the moment as we cannot see people face to face,” said Sally.

“The school counselling service we have run since 2007 has always traditionally been face to face and to suddenly find you cannot do that when arguably the need is at its greatest then something else has to be put in place.

“It is all about learning and adapting as you go along. The team have been brilliant at developing – and have been throughout all the years I have been involved.

“We have also worked closely with partner organisations and have developed projects that have made a real difference and not just in Cardigan but further afield.

“I would like to think I have been part of groups that have been worthwhile and made a difference to young people’s lives.

"I am grateful for the support of volunteers, funders, my family and the young people I’ve worked with, from whom I’ve learnt so much."

Looking ahead to her retirement, Sally said she would like to travel more under normal circumstances.

“I have just had my travel insurance renewal through but don’t think I will be doing much with it at the moment,” she added.

"I’m looking at offering to volunteer with both young people’s organisations and those that work to support those with dementia and their families.

“I also enjoy cooking and intend to spend more time with my grandchildren.”