2016 will be recorded as a hugely significant year in the history of YMCA Birmingham. It marked the culmination of ten years’ planning, fundraising and development which finally saw the completion of our flagship development, The Orchard. The final phase was officially opened by HRH Princess Royal in May 2016. It received the Best Sustainable Development of the Year Award at the Insider Property Awards in June 2016 for its iconic design.
This success has extra significance in the context of our journey. In 2009 we lost 30% of our Supporting People grant and in 2013, trustees reluctantly took the decision to close the Youth and Community Department following heavy losses and continued reductions in youth work funding.
In many ways, the completion of The Orchard is symbolic for the rebirth and renewal of YMCA Birmingham, which actually mirrors the purpose of the site itself.
The Orchard contains 83 units of supported accommodation and 34 move-on units, a training and education function, conferencing facilities, a nursery and coffee shop.
The vision for the scheme was always ambitious – not just to provide housing and community facilities, but to create a real place of change where young people could be inspired to fulfil their potential and come to live life in all its fullness.
Today we provide more accommodation and we work with more young people than ever before – but we do it sustainably having completely reinvented our business model. Now our focus is no longer just on government income, but on generating our own resources through social enterprises offering education, training, volunteering, and employment opportunities on site to our young people and the local community.