YMCA reaches its landmark 175th year during the next parliament and our mission today is as relevant as it was in 1844.
From humble beginnings in the shadows of St. Paul’s Cathedral, YMCA has grown to be the largest and oldest youth charity in the world while still remaining true to the principles of why Sir George Williams founded the charity – the desire to love, support and develop those around us.
Over this time, YMCA has become one of the cornerstones of civil society across Great Britain and continues to support young people every day. As cities, towns and villages have expanded, YMCA has responded accordingly to the growing needs of the people it serves.
When people need support with homelessness, YMCA provides a roof over their head. When they want to gain new skills and qualifications for employment, our experts and professionals equip them. And when they want support with health concerns or someone to talk to confidentially, YMCA is there.
YMCA is an organisation that is there for all young people, regardless of need, and as such our work reaches across the entirety of England, Scotland and Wales and impacts on all ages, abilities, faiths, races, genders and sexualities.
However, regardless of these differences, the same key facts remain. For a young person to progress in the world they need the security of a home, so they are ready to tackle the world, with a positive mind and body, that is enhanced by activities that develop character. But this requires all of us to empower and invest in the next generation.
From the outset YMCA England & Wales and YMCA Scotland wanted to present a manifesto which truly reflected the feelings of the young people we serve. While some of the issues are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, they remain important challenges for young people across the UK.
Contained within this manifesto are messages of change for the next government; not always ones which are easily achievable but ones which are necessary if we want to live in a society that truly supports and develops young people in our communities. One message that is absolutely clear is that YMCA today – like every other day for the past 173 years – stands ready, willing and able to deliver this change with government, society and young people.