The last few years have been tough for young people, families, and communities: a global pandemic, cost of living crisis, growing housing crisis, and funding challenges have all left scars on our communities.

But at YMCA, we haven’t lost hope for a brighter future. A General Election must be called in 2024, and with that comes opportunity.

Now’s our chance to get the next government to put young people and communities at the heart of their vision and deliver real change. We want everyone to have a fair chance to discover who they are and what they can become.

Now’s our chance to make that happen.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive, YMCA England & Wales

“Our vision for young people and communities is one where everyone has stability, security, and access to the resources they need to live a good life. We know that it’s possible to achieve this. We need political leaders to step up their ambition, to articulate a bold new plan for the betterment of our society, and to lead us all into this new reality without forgetting about those who often get left behind? ”

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The Manifesto

Read our General Election manifesto


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Are you sure a General Election will take place this year?

A General Election has to be called this year.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, recently said he is working on the assumption that a General Election will take place “in the second half of the year”.

That’s part of the reason we are releasing our manifesto now.

Why release a manifesto?

We have decided to produce a manifesto to help identify the areas we believe the next government should focus on.

It is our public declaration of what we believe must be prioritised.

We will now use the manifesto to call on politicians to back our campaign for change.

How did YMCA decide on the five areas?

We spent the last year speaking to hundreds of people across YMCA England & Wales about what we should prioritise; from young people living in our supported housing to chairs and trustees of local YMCAs.

After much consultation, we narrowed it down to these five areas:

  • Housing and homelessness
  • Youth services
  • Cost of living
  • Wellbeing
  • Education

Each individual area has recommendations, which can be seen below or in the PDF of the manifesto.

The Five Key Areas

What’s the best that can happen?
Youth Services

  • We need to see long-term revenue funding for universal and open-access youth services, delivering for all young people, all year round.
  • We need a cross-departmental strategy for youth services, which takes a long-term strategic vision for the provision of youth services around the country.
  • There should be a duty placed on local authorities to ensure that all young people can access youth services in their area, with the support and resourcing from the government to enable it.
Housing and homelessness
  • We need investment in a significant programme of building new affordable housing around the country, to deliver the much-needed supply of low-cost, stable, good quality housing.
  • There should be a cross-departmental strategy to end youth homelessness which is tailored to young people’s needs.
  • There should be a nationwide scheme of support for young people in supported accommodation to access the private rented sector when they are ready, through providing deposits and guarantors for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Cost of living
  • The Government should introduce an Essentials Guarantee for benefits, an independently-calculated figure which would determine the minimum level of benefits to meet people’s essential needs.
  • Young people under 25 who are living independently should receive an additional Universal Credit payment, to bring their standard allowance up to match the over 25s rate.
  • Residents of supported accommodation should receive a Universal Credit work allowance to allow them to earn more before their income from benefits is tapered.
  • There needs to be increased investment in NHS mental health services to bring down waiting times for people who are in crisis, and to ensure that young people can access timely, appropriate mental health services whenever they need them.
  • We need a national network of early support hubs, so that every young person can access early support for their mental health in their community and place of learning.
  • We need investment in community sport facilities and universal access youth services, so that all young people have access to youth services with trained professionals such as youth workers and sports coaches, who can help them to build resilience and manage their emotions.



  • We need to see investment in building a sustainable Early Years Education sector that is resourced to meet the scale of need, addressing the real cost of delivering early years education in more deprived areas and for children with additional needs.
  • The Government must address the crisis in the early years workforce, implementing an action plan for the challenges of recruitment and retention.
  • The Government must increase funding to the further education sector so that providers have the staff and resources to equip young people with the training and skills they need, and reform apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy to reverse the decline in apprenticeship starts and finishes.

You can help make change

Only with your help can we make this vision a reality. A better future for our children and young people could start tomorrow.

Now’s our chance.

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