YMCA more than your average youth charity
For many, the name YMCA might bring about visions of youth hostels and young men in fancy dress. What few people know is that we’re actually the world’s oldest and largest charity for children and young people.
Founded by George Williams in 1844, Central YMCA is the UK’s leading health and fitness charity and the world’s first YMCA. Through our core services – YMCA Fit, YMCA Awards, YMCA Club and YMCA Training – we help tackle a number of the nation’s most crucial issues, including unemployment, health, physical activity, and social issues.
We’re able to change the lives of thousands of people every year, through health and wellbeing services, training and development programmes, and accreditation schemes. Whether that be those lacking support, unsure about what path to take next, coming from underprivileged backgrounds, or disenfranchised communities – our aim is to transform lives and enable people to live healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.
Helping young people back on their feet
One of our core focuses is helping young people get back on their feet and into the community and/or workplace. We work with a broad scope of people including ex-offenders, homeless, and drug and alcohol misusers. We support those in the greatest need, in local communities and further afield, rising to meet the challenges they face in an ever changing society. And with young people in the UK now nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population, and that figure even greater within disenfranchised groups, we see this as absolutely necessary.
In addition, lots of the work we do helps keep youngsters off the streets and away from crime, with a number of our initiatives aimed at these groups. Often when young offenders and prisoners are released, they can feel alienated and struggle to fit back into the community and working life, which is why our programmes are carefully shaped to equip them with the skills they need to integrate themselves back in. We often find that better education is key to rehabilitating these people, and stopping them turning back to a life of crime.
Young people in these situations often need the most help, so we work on building their self-esteem and confidence, and provide positive experiences of learning and being in the community. We’re all about providing young people with the right opportunities and the right support to build a positive future and reach their full potential.
Our youth work programmes are key to engaging with these groups and we work with many Youth Offending Teams (YOT) across the UK to engage with young people.
We have a Youth Contract in place which aims to give vulnerable young people one-to- one support and helps them gain valuable knowledge on how to obtain education and employment.
The contract takes a number of stages which the young person is guided through by a dedicated mentor, offering them the support they need to complete the programme and emerge themselves back to education or work. One to ones are completed on a monthly basis to provide support, discuss problems and personal issues, and also to complete targets set out in the young person’s original action plan, to ensure they’re completed successfully.
Ultimately, we believe every individual, from any path of life, has the right to lead a healthy, happy and fulfilled life and will continue to work to ensure this is the case.
Andree Deane-Barron, Managing Director of YMCA Training