YMCA is the largest and oldest youth charity in the world. From our beginnings in 1844, we’ve grown into a global movement, helping 58 million people across 119 countries.

YMCA was set up in England in 1844 by Sir George Williams. YMCA now operates in 119 countries across the world, each with a national council. In England and Wales there are 116 YMCAs, all members of the National Council of YMCAs in England & Wales.

While YMCAs work and respond locally to support young people, YMCA England & Wales supports each local charity and acts as a national voice.

We support local YMCAs by promoting high standards of working, sharing best practice, fundraising on their behalf, partnering with them to pilot new projects and providing training opportunities for staff and volunteers.

We give local YMCAs a national voice by speaking with government, key policy makers and national media, and we represent them by advocating for the needs of the most vulnerable young people in England and Wales.

Together, we focus on young people, helping them to play an active and fulfilling role within their communities. We call this our youth-minded community approach. We also provide a wide range of community-based activities and services to help meet local needs wherever we are based.

Each YMCA in England and Wales is an individual, self-governing charity that affiliates to the National Council. Through this affiliation, YMCAs become part of the World Alliance of YMCAs. As part of a worldwide movement, we help more than 58 million people in 119 different countries. You can read more about YMCA globally on our Where we are section.

You can find out more about our support for young people and communities in our YMCA booklet. Alternatively, find out where we work and how we were founded by a draper from Somerset.