staff outside ymca bedsfordshire

YMCA Bedfordshire

The biggest impact over the last year at YMCA Bedfordshire has been our move towards becoming a Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) service, incorporating Trauma Informed Care (TIC) and strengths based approaches.

We are passionate about preventing the revolving door of homelessness by working with residents in a psychologically informed way to reduce evictions, and have shifted focus from ‘needs & risk’ to ‘strengths & aspirations’. The trauma informed approach aims to improve the psychological and emotional well-being of people accessing our services – many with multiple and complex needs, to enable them to recover and lead fulfilling meaningful lives. Our honeycomb model of working also allows each person to progress via their own unique pathway.

Investment in targeted learning and development opportunities has supported staff across all levels to better understand the impact that trauma has on an individual and why behaviour happens. This understanding is bolstered by monthly reflective practice sessions that upskill staff and positively impact our new approach to delivery.

“It’s been an interesting journey for us as we reflect on the benefits and challenges of ‘elastic tolerance’ within our PIE strategy. PIE is an organic process involving a complete overhaul of policy, processes, paperwork and language to prevent re-traumatisation and help to build positive relationships in a ‘home’ environment that has benefited from interior design.” Caroline Barkham – Director of Housing.

“Since the lounge was redecorated, I have used it a lot more to relax and socialise with other residents. It has become a lot more welcoming to use on a day to day basis. Makes me feel more at home.” Katie – Weaver resident

At this relatively early stage of implementing changes, we have already seen a huge impact, including: reduction in evictions, reduction in vandalism, increased positive behaviour and overall a better living & working environment.

YMCA Cardiff

In a time when austerity cuts have affected youth services in Cardiff, YMCA Cardiff has worked hard and has raised over £300,000.00 to develop a new dedicated children and young people’s centre for young people in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. This is an achievement in itself when numerous youth centres have been closing across both authorities.

YMCA Cardiff has recently achieved their Silver Youth Work in Wales Award. Through the assessment process YMCA Cardiff was highlighted as sector leading in their Young Carer’s and Healthy Relationships Services. The assessor’s feedback stated that these projects should be used as examples of best practice in Wales and highlighted them as sector-leading.

Through our Healthy Relationships Service we have provided 1-2-1 support to vulnerable young people at risk of sexual exploitation (CSE), and have developed a Child Sexual Exploitation Steering Group in partnership with the Local Authority Children’s Service CSE ‘Think Safe Team’, the steering group is made up of young people who have been victims of exploitation and aims is to improve services for young people who may become victims. This project focusing on CSE has been nominated for the Welsh Governments 2019 Youth Excellence Awards.

Throughout the last 12 months YMCA Cardiff has supported over 350 young carers and young adult carers across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan by providing respite opportunities, social activities and 1-2-1 support in order to reduce their isolation, improve confidence and self-esteem and to give them skills in order to reduce the stress of their caring responsibility.

Staff outside YMCA Norfolk

YMCA Norfolk

This last year has seen an exceptional year of growth, we have:
– More than doubled our contacts to 1400+ every month through participation in 21 youth clubs and drop-ins across Norfolk; activities range from homework support to 1-1 Anti-Bullying advice. We’re praised for our inclusive, caring approach; with a strong commitment to growing confidence in our young people and reducing social anxieties.

– Grown our fully-accredited Mind Matters mental health service to include local businesses; offering tailored training, such as Adult, Workplace and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Attendees have praised the “engaging, informative and well-structured” courses, and since our launch in 2016, we have trained over 200 key adults in Mental Health First Aid across Norfolk.

– Launched Rapid Response, the County Council contracted emergency service for Norfolk families in crisis, particularly where children maybe on the edge of coming into the care system. Since May 2018, 74 families across the county have been supported by the team; totalling 1034 hours of family support throughout the year. Among the team’s 74 cases, an outstanding 85% of families were either offered further support, made significant improvement, or were reunified with their family.

– We secured funding towards the purchase of a new community house to deliver ‘New Horizons’, which replicates a family home for nine 16-17-year-old care leavers. With 24/7 staffing 365 days a year, residents eat meals together, share chores and work together to gain independence.

Our fundraising team has launched a brand-new schools and corporate partnerships initiative; providing a comprehensive fundraising pack through a year-round Sleep Easy campaign and tiered corporate sponsorships package.

YMCA Norfolk is proud of its expansion of staff, support, and services; we strongly believe the charity will continue to have an inspiring, empowering impact on the Norfolk community over the coming year.

People outside YMCA north Staffordshire campus

YMCA North Staffordshire

In the past 12 months we have seen YMCA North Staffordshire grow from strength to strength. We have increased our engagement with young people by developing existing work and leading on new and exciting initiatives including:

Increasing our Community Housing stock for young workers by 50%. We now have 34 houses (68 units)

Family work
Increased our range of services offered to children, young people and families. New services include our Supported Lodgings Scheme and we have also expanded our geographical area to include Stafford.

Employment & Skills
Launching our Thrive campaign which seeks to engage business with anything from a starter home pack to sponsoring a young person through University. We have already engaged with 60 plus businesses and secured private investment to support the campaign.

Training & Education
Partnering with Staffordshire University with eight young people and two staff completing the introduction to Higher Education course and three going on to degrees. NCS engaging with over 650 of young people, delivering 53 of social action projects and raising over £10,000.  Delivering the first Youth Ambassador Network across the City, delivering in 80% of secondary schools.

Increasing our volunteer numbers to over 50

Health & wellbeing
Delivered Community Youth Work activities to over 1000 young people

Increased our Y Active membership to 146 members of the community

On top of this we have also Hosted 14 community Meals with the University, SCFC, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue plus many more, feeding over 1500 people at our Youth Campus, Delivered arts, food and sports activities to 500 people over the summer at our family community picnics, increased our footfall on campus by over 20%, supported and secured funding for 19 young people to take part in International Residential to Romania, Srebrenica, Berlin, Canada, Thailand.

As an organisation we have been operating in our local community for 160 years! In the last 12 months we have started to run the Freedom Programme for women who have survived domestic abuse, for which we receive no formal funding. Materials are provided for all women who want to attend free of charge and are paid for entirely through donations and fundraising. We have set up the Holly Project for survivors of Child Sexual Exploitation and their families. There is no other project like the Holly Project, as it is run by survivors for survivors. In addition to these, our supported housing project has worked with at least 40 young people in the local area, including a young man with learning difficulties who has received the High Sherriff of Shropshire’s Citizenship Award, a former tenant who is now a Youth Ambassador who attended the World Council in Thailand and had another tenant accepted as a second Youth Ambassador.


We have also had a young man with us for 4 years, who has overcome severe anxiety and mental health difficulties to become a mental health champion and sits on the local mental health service user forum and has successfully moved on to his own general needs housing. We are also supporting two Year 11 students who are living independently, and a 17 year old with no parental support who is working through an accountancy apprenticeship and managing a tenancy on a very low income. Before coming to YMCA this young man was sleeping on the floor of a local gym.

We have also participated in a number of local events, including the Telford 50 Carnival with our CEO dressed as a giant cupcake, West Mercia Police Exploitation Training and held local community clean up events.

We have also recruited a Complex Needs Worker through the lottery funded Shine Project, headed up by YMCA Leicester, this will allow us to work with more young people with multiple complex needs from across the Borough.

We have worked with our local NCS group to create a video on the stigma of youth homelessness but it is too large to attach to the application.

Youth Matters Awards categories