YMCA Right Here, YMCA DownsLink Group – WINNER

YMCA Right Here is a health and wellbeing project for young people, enabling them to learn, speak out and get support around health and wellbeing through volunteering, activities, workshops, campaigns and digital projects.

In 2016, staff and volunteers at YMCA Right Here played a vital part in initiating, designing and developing the #IAMWHOLE campaign to combat mental health stigma.

In partnership with the NHS and YMCA England & Wales the campaign went national and reached over 120 million people globally.

As part of the #IAMWHOLE campaign, YMCA Right Here launched mental health services directory Find Get Give, an online platform where young people can rate and review services, and access resources and tools to support their mental health.

Furthermore, YMCA Right Here volunteers have delivered peer facilitated mental health workshops to 1,714 students in the last year and the Young Men’s Health Champion volunteers have worked with over 700 individuals online and face to face in the local community on topics such as testicular cancer, sexual exploitation and body image.

The project has had an immense impact on young people in the local area, as well as the project’s volunteers, who have grown in confidence, made new friends and learnt new skills.

The Orchard Project, YMCA Humber

The Orchard Project, YMCA Humber – FINALIST

The Orchard project started in summer 2016, with a small pot of funding from the Fruit-full Communities Project, which supports young people to develop skills through work in the environment.

Run and led by residents living in YMCA Humber’s Peaks Lane and Foyer accommodation, the Orchard project grew beyond everyone’s expectation and now includes 150 fruit and soft fruit trees.

The trees where not the only ones who blossomed through the project. Residents involved have gained skills in horticulture, project management, budgeting and financial planning and have taken part in public speaking and media interviews, resulting in improved confidence across the group.

Going above and beyond what’s expected, the project group also brought in additional funding from Postcode Local Trust to build a cob house and the O2 Think Big programme to develop an environmentally friendly irrigation system, which harnesses rain water and uses digital, solar powered technology. Through their new found awareness of the environment, over 100 shrubs have been planted to create a wildlife haven to encourage bees in the local area.

Bringing together 64 residents who contributed 1106 volunteer hours in total, the Orchard project is a perfect example of how small seeds can grow big trees.

WAVES, YMCA East Surrey


WAVES (Wellbeing, Awareness and Voice in East Surrey) is a youth club providing a safe space for young people who are experiencing or have experienced mental health difficulties. The project allows young people to talk to peers with similar experiences, take part in activities, combat stigma and build friendships and support networks with others.

Young people who are keen to make a difference have the opportunity to become Youth Mental Health Champions, which work to raise awareness and de-stigmatise mental health difficulties amongst 11-21 year olds.

Volunteering their time, Youth Mental Health Champions work in the local community to promote awareness of mental health difficulties by producing materials for schools and colleges, offering peer education and support for friends, family and partners and signposting young people in need to external services.

Since WAVES started in 2015 the project has trained 20 young people and disseminated information to 26 schools and colleges locally. The project has also taken part in national lobbying to improve mental health provision by taking part in the all-party Parliamentary group on Youth Affairs to discuss how body image affects young people’s mental health.

The project currently has 12 Young Mental Health Champions and is currently working on a video to spread awareness of the project and encourage other young people to sign up as Youth Mental Health Champions.

YBMS, Fylde Coast YMCA summary

Y:BMS, Fylde Coast YMCA

YMCA Lancaster’s Y:BMS project engages young people in local schools and community centres through one to one sessions, group fitness activities, coaching, personal development, nutrition workshops and cooking sessions. Before beginning Y:BMS some of the young people had poor body image and low self-esteem but towards the end of the project they reported feeling more confident with changes to their demeanour and a willingness to try new things. The project is based on the principle of a ‘healthy body – healthy mind’, showing young people the relationship between the two.

The project has worked with 88 young people, with over 85% of those taking part improving their overall fitness and wellbeing. Young people gained a greater understanding of diet and nutrition and how it affects their health, mood, improvements in sleep, concentration, healthier food choices and a better relationship towards exercise.

Y:BMS has also had a positive effect on young people’s behaviour, schools taking part in the project saw a reduction in behaviour points of 47% among young people who participated. The team treated every young person as an individual, an equal and offered him or her the flexibility to learn at their own rate.

YYouth, Fylde Coast YMCA summary

Y:Youth, Fylde Coast YMCA

Y: Youth is a YMCA Fylde Coast community outreach project funded by the Big Lottery reaching communities fund.  The project to engaged 130 young people who were at risk of participating in anti-social behaviour or exhibiting risk-taking behaviour to improve their physical, emotional and social wellbeing. The outreach work has focussed on continually engaging young people in hotspot areas across Lancaster known to the police.

All of the young people engaging in the project felt a range of positive changes and impacts on their lives from improved physical and emotional wellbeing, more motivation, feeling healthier, interacting with positive role models and the confidence to say no to anti-social behaviour. The project has encouraged young people to take the lead and have ownership over these activities and that is exactly what they have done with young people organising their own football sessions and groups at local community centres.

Through Y:Youth a  total of 69 young people gained leadership accreditations that improved communication skills, confidence, social skills and their ability to perform in educational settings, while four out of seven local community volunteers gained successful employment through their training and work with the project. Y:Youth has had a fantastic 12 months.

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