A message from YMCA England & Wales’ Chief Executive, Denise Hatton:
As a charity and a family of colleagues, YMCA is deeply concerned with the ongoing challenges faced by COVID-19. Like you, we are uncertain of how deep this virus will impact our communities and how long it will continue to be in our lives.
YMCA’s unique nature is particularly affected by this crisis.
Our work stretches across every aspect of the community and throughout people’s lives. Whether it is the youth clubs we deliver to thousands of young people, the nursery provision we provide to tens of thousands of families’ or the health and wellbeing services we deliver to the elderly and vulnerable, YMCA supports communities across the country; every hour of every day, through the good times and the bad.
Our frontline work is and will continue to be significantly disrupted by the Coronavirus outbreak. It is affecting those people who come and go from our services as well as those individuals who depend on it as a lifeline and place to call home. With more than a hundred YMCAs across England and Wales, YMCAs are facing a multitude of challenges in keeping our support operational. Not least, ensuring that our staff and volunteers are safe whilst at work.
We are also bracing ourselves for the financial impact of COVID-19. As challenge events are canceled such as the London Marathon; our income is reduced from membership services like our gyms and nurseries; and we see fewer visitors come through the doors of our charity shops; YMCA’s ability to support our communities and those most vulnerable may be put into jeopardy.
As a country, we are facing an historic crisis and YMCA has considerable experience in being there when times are tough. Our work during both the first and second World Wars, supporting troops on the frontlines and their families back home, is a testament to our commitment and something which still holds true to this the day and underpins our values as an organisation.
Our communities need YMCA support; the homeless young people for whom YMCA is their only sanctuary; the key workers whose children will remain in our nurseries; those facing increased anxiety but still receiving our mental health support online; and the isolated young people engaging with friends through our virtual and distance youth work activities.
While financially we will be tested and emotionally may become weary, our resolve will not weaken. As we support our young people and communities through this most difficult of times, all we ask of our friends and supporters is that you do what you can to support your local YMCA. YMCA has been in our communities for more than 175 years and we fully intend to be here for another 175 years.