About Us

Ad Astra is a Community Interest Company formed in 2013. Our aim is to provide quality provision locally. Our mission is to raise aspirations and broaden the outlook of young people in the Barnsley area by providing a wide range of activities and support to young people through a wide range of activities and events including:

·      youth clubs

.      young people’s mental health support

·      after school sessions

·      educational visits

·      short stay residentials

·      outdoor activities

.      LGBTQ support for young people

.      Sanitary product distribution

.      Community food parcels

This has all been made possible by funding sourced both locally and nationally by our  dedicated team who have many years’ experience in youth and community work, delivering many projects around the Yorkshire area.

Aims and Objectives

Rachael Sharpe

Rachael Sharpe

As one of the Co-founders of Ad Astra Barnsley Rachael originally worked as a dance teacher and health and fitness specialist. However, for the past twenty years she has used her many talents working with children, young people and vulnerable adults in Barnsley and beyond.
Her enthusiastic and stylish approach transmits to the young people though it is sometimes frowned on by the grown ups (Michelle).  She is loyal and supportive when young people need it. Her main passion is supporting young peoples mental health. Rachael is the driving force behind the Lunchtime Period project and aims to provide young people with constant support.
Her interests cover the full range of arts and crafts and some of her wackier ideas magically transform into pure artistic gold (really?). Choreographer, song and dance director, , that’s why Rachael is Ad Astra’s Creative Director.

Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper

Michelle has for the last thirty years worked with and for young people and vulnerable adults in Barnsley and still claims to be the right side of 40. She has worked for Barnsley Youth Services, the NSPCC, Barnsley YMCA and other community based agencies and as co founder of Ad Astra  . Appearances can be deceptive and Michelles gentle exterior hide a steely determination to do the best for the young people of Barnsley. Her encyclopedic knowledge of the people and services available for young people in the borough give her the ability to be a powerful advocate for them. Her generosity is legendary and frequently needs reining in by her fellow directors. As a forceful orator she is an ideal front person and lead for many of Ad Astra’s projects.

Mark Smales

Mark Smales

Mark spent 30 years in construction management before deciding it was time to get a proper job working with children and young people.  He has spent the last 7 years working for NSPCC, Barnsley YMCA and now Ad Astra Barnsley. Mark is a keen sportsman, makes things out of pallets and is knowledgeable about the arts and the environment. However any art he does looks a mess. His spare time is spent running in rivers and rolling about on muddy rugby fields as a life member of Wath upon Dearne RUFC.

A mathematician, wordsmith and a sports coach he is co-founder and Finance director of Ad Astra where his legendary stinginess is an asset.

Hey everyone! Meet George, the newest member of the Ad Astra team!

George’s passion for the outdoors, along with his professional background in teaching, has led him far and wide so far in his life.

After qualifying from the university of Hull, he spent 2 years as a teacher here in Barnsley before moving on and becoming the Adventure coordinator for children attending summer camps in the USA. From hiking and camping, to rock-climbing and whitewater kayaking, George has provided children with unique and unforgettable experiences and raised the aspirations of so many.

George: ‘We can be our true selves when we surround ourselves with the outdoors; where we forget our troubles and responsibilities’


As well as sports, George also enjoys painting and playing the guitar!


Welcome to Ad Astra George