Statement from Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales

5th June 2020


The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on the 25th May has shaken the world. To die as the result of police brutality simply because of the colour of your skin is unacceptable. George Floyd’s death has sparked the response that it has because it is a blatant and public example of the deep-rooted racial discrimination that members of the black community routinely face.

It is perhaps easy to think of this appalling event as a problem that exists elsewhere but for so many young people in this country they face a daily battle against racism – casual, systemic and targeted. Speaking out against discrimination has come to feel pointless. For them, nothing has changed and nothing will change.

This moment feels different. I have been struck by the sheer numbers of young people coming together; people of all races standing side by side to protest for their rights and to stand against inequality. It is a fight that we must all be part of.

As the founding YMCA Movement in the world, I want to be clear that YMCA fundamentally believes in equal opportunities for all. No matter the colour of skin, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, ethnicity, age or social background. Every person should have the opportunities to belong, contribute and thrive within our communities without fear or discrimination.

But it is not simply enough to believe in something. We must act also.

YMCA in England and Wales stands in solidarity with everyone fighting to end racism and discrimination, and calls on communities to unite and work towards achieving a more just and inclusive future for all. YMCA wants to do its part to achieve this too – to speak out where we see discrimination and injustice, to encourage active listening, and work with young people of all backgrounds to advocate for change. By doing this our young people will be able to wake up in a country more unified and inclusive place to live.


Denise Hatton

National General Secretary & Chief Executive

YMCA England & Wales