What's happening at YMCA

YMCA Scotland will be working in partnership with Dr Yvonne McEwen for an upcoming heritage project. The project is to focus on the work of the YMCA during The Great War. For more information on this in the mean time, please see our recent Facebook post featuring Yvonne’s article for Passchendaele 100, which was published in The Scotsman today.

Only 43% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the last election, the lowest of any age group, despite having the most to gain and the most to lose. This needs to change if you want to see decision makers make you a priority through policies that will positively impact on your lives and prospects.

The message is simple: register and, on Thursday 8 June, take to the polls and vote.

By signing up, finding out what local candidates can offer and making an informed choice on polling day, you can make sure your voice is heard by the next Government.

“This election is one of the most important of recent years and it is essential that young people stand up and have their say”

     Kerry Reilly, Chief Executive, YMCA Scotland

 

With only four weeks to go until the UK votes for its next government, YMCA is calling on candidates across the political spectrum to “put youth first” with its election manifesto.

Inspired by discussions with young people across England, Scotland and Wales, YMCA’s manifesto brings together more than 40 recommendations that it believes will improve the lives of young people and communities.

Recommendations span access to housing, mental health support, jobs and education and highlight what matters most to the young people of the country in 2017.

Kerry Reilly, Chief Executive of YMCA Scotland, said: “YMCAs work in 120 communities across Scotland and 740 communities across England and Wales and, as such, we know first-hand what young people are going through and what the next government needs to do to improve their lives and prospects.

 “Young people have told us what must change to give them the best start in life and we call on the next government to sit up and listen. Without access to secure housing, meaningful careers, improved training and better mental and physical health support we fear this generation will be left behind as Brexit negotiations and policies to favour other age groups are prioritised.

 Whilst some of the issues are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, they remain important challenges for young people across the UK.  From the outset YMCA wanted to present a manifesto which truly reflected the feelings of the young people we serve. ”

YMCA General Election Manifesto 2017

Since stepping foot in my local YMCA in Newcastle fifteen years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to have had experiences with the movement in four continents. From my first trip to India aged 17 for the 150th anniversary of the Paris Basis to more recently representing Y Care International at the World Council in Colorado, each of these experiences has shown me just how special the YMCA is in all the different countries we work in.

I want young people from YMCAs all over the UK to have the same chances and see the YMCA from a new perspective, make lifelong friends and gain skills and confidence in the process. So I feel very fortunate to be able to share Y Care International’s overseas volunteering opportunity with them as part of my job.

Our International Citizen Service (ICS) is a life changing opportunity for young people aged 18-25 and youth workers (up to age 35) to volunteer to make a different in the world’s poorest communities for up to three months at no cost to you.  You could switch a summer in Bournemouth for one in Bangladesh, go from Southend to Senegal, leave Leicester for Liberia, trade Tollcross for Togo or swap Sheffield for Sierra Leone and work alongside local young volunteers on YMCA youth driven community projects.

We’re accepting applications now to be able to go away as soon as this summer and I would encourage all young people to grab this opportunity and see what difference they can make. A big part of ICS is helping others but young people will come back will loads of new skills. And for YMCA staff applying as team leaders, the experience of ICS will turn you into Super Youth Worker 2.0!

I have seen hundreds of young people take on the challenge of ICS and make huge difference to the lives of young people all over the world. They volunteer with YMCAs for three months of their lives but they experience stays with them a lot longer. And it doesn’t end when they get back home.  Once returned, ICS volunteers take action in their own communities, sometimes in their local YMCA – (like Gurvir when who returned from Bangladesh and ran workshops in Thames Gateway YMCA).

I have grown up within the YMCA movement; a huge part of that has been volunteering my time and exploring different cultures. These experiences have helped shaped me personally and professionally and ultimately have led me to where I am today.  I would encourage all young people to volunteer with ICS and take on the challenge of a lifetime and make a difference through the YMCA overseas.

Me and the team would love to bring ICS to the young people and youth workers you work with. Check out our website on how YMCAs can get involved and get in touch!

Robbie Cheyne

Senior Youth Engagement Coordinator

Research conducted by YMCA uncovers evidence of body image anxiety in 11 to 16 year olds

The Be Real Campaign, of which YMCA is a founding partner, today launches the Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools (Tuesday 17 January 2017).

Aimed at secondary schools and made up of essential guidance, materials and advice on teaching body confidence in the classroom, the toolkit has been created on the back of research that found:

  • 52% of 11 to 16 year olds worry about how they look
  • 30% of 11 to 16 year olds isolate themselves from certain activities because of body image anxiety
  • 36% of 11 to 16 year olds said they would do ‘whatever it takes’ to look good, including considering cosmetic surgery
  • Only 48% of young people surveyed had learned about body confidence in school
  • Of those who had learned about body confidence in school, 76% said it made them feel more positive about themselves.

The toolkit is now available for all secondary schools to download. Schools taking on the toolkit may also download the #BeRealSchool badge to promote their body confidence commitment in school and on social media.

If you would like your local YMCA to talk about body confidence in your school, please get in touch.

Somebody Like Me

Young people are facing increasing pressures relating to their appearance. While a focus on the importance of appearance in society is by no means a new phenomenon, many young people today are struggling to escape the constant barrage of messages they receive about how they should look and how they should behave. Somebody Like Me aimed to give young people the space to discuss and share their experiences to create practical solutions that both they and others can take forward to help tackle body image anxiety in the UK.

Download Report

 

 

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the sudden death of Peter Robertson.  Peter was out playing walking football, which he loved, when he suffered a fatal heart attack.

I know that you will all hold Peter’s wife Alison, sons Simon and Jonathan and wider family in your thoughts and prayers at this time.
At our recent YMCA Scotland Awards Dinner, Peter was awarded the Sir George Williams Medal.  This is the highest award available within the YMCA in Scotland and is for distinguished and outstanding service to the YMCA in Scotland.  Below is an extract from his nomination, which gives you an insight into the significant contribution that Peter made over many years.
‘Peter started his Scottish YMCA involvement when he became General Secretary of Dumfries YMCA in the 1970s having trained at the YMCA College in London and worked at Ambleside YMCA and Henley YMCA and having been a member of Carlisle YMCA as a teenager.  After some years Peter moved to work for a local funder, The Holywood Trust, and he became a YMCA volunteer.  He was so committed to the YMCA Movement that there was no suggestion of not continuing to be involved.  He eventually became Chairman of Dumfries YMCA and was also supported the development of YMCAs in Stranraer and Gatehouse of Fleet, regularly travelling across the region to attend meetings and negotiate with officials on behalf of the YMCA.  
Peter also became involved in things nationally, on the National Executive and various committees.  He chaired the Personnel Committee in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  He was Vice Chair of YMCA Scotland from 1992 to 2004 and Chairman from 2004 to 2008.  
There is a saying ‘if you cut them in half they would read…’ For Peter the would definitely be YMCA.  ‘
 
His loss will be great to the whole YMCA family, felt most by his family and all those at Dumfries YMCA.

We have opened a book of condolences and people can leave a message by clicking here

BOOK OF CONDOLENCES

 

“Give us something nippy, miss”

As the world remembers those who have died. YMCA Scotland also remembers those YMCA workers and volunteers who used their talents to comfort servicemen as they fought in the trenches and in times of death. Lena Ashwell was one of these determined and talented people.

She wrote “The YMCA realised in the early days of the war that the needs of our men would include not only food and shells, guns and hospital stores, but some of the amenities of civilisation-food for the mind and spirit as well as the body. It was when the war was six months old that the “concerts on the front “were started at the invitation of the Ladies Auxiliary Committee, whose Chairman is H.H princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein”

Lena Ashwell was determined to bring the very best of music and theatre to the troops through these concerts.

Lena Ashwell, OBE(28 September 187213 March 1957), British actress and actor-manager, known as the first to organize large-scale entertainment for troops at the front, which she did during World War I. She was also heavily involved in supporting the Three Arts Women's Employment Fund (also supported by Elizabeth Asquith) and helped to stage productions to raise funds. She is pictured here wearing an overall at the work rooms of the Fund surrounded by toys made by the workers. Date: 1915

Lena Ashwell, OBE(28 September 187213 March 1957), British actress and actor-manager, known as the first to organize large-scale entertainment for troops at the front, which she did during World War I. She was also heavily involved in supporting the Three Arts Women’s Employment Fund (also supported by Elizabeth Asquith) and helped to stage productions to raise funds. She is pictured here wearing an overall at the work rooms of the Fund surrounded by toys made by the workers. Date: 1915

“We have only sent out good music, good literature: we find that nothing else is wanted-we only offer the best. The men do not want what is ugly or base, and it is difficult to make people at home realise how much what is beautiful and joyous means to the men who have literally nothing but the bare necessities of life-and death.

“You don’t know what it means to us” is said over and over again by the men themselves, their officers and “padres”. But we do know what it means to them when we see men standing in long queues outside the huts in the sleet and rain for hours waiting to get into the concerts”

The concerts were put on in huts, warehouses, fields, barns and roadsides to name but a few and whenever possible music was brought to the beds of dying men.

Somewhere in France - a concert behind the lines. A concert troupe or divisional entertainment company often made up of a mix of professional and amateur actors, entertaining Allied troops on the Western Front. Here the entertainers are dressed convincingly in drag. There were a number of troupes including the Whizzbangs, the Verey Lights and The Duds. Date: 1915

Somewhere in France – a concert behind the lines. A concert troupe or divisional entertainment company often made up of a mix of professional and amateur actors, entertaining Allied troops on the Western Front. Here the entertainers are dressed convincingly in drag. There were a number of troupes including the Whizzbangs, the Verey Lights and The Duds. Date: 1915

The Army recognised the great military value of this work, and as the world remembers those that died, these YMCA stories give a clearer picture of how comfort was brought during these times.

“They are never too ill to enjoy beautiful music or even join in a favorite chorus song…. A dying man said to the violinist, ‘Give us something nippy, miss’ and passed away as she played a happy tune”

Information gathered as part of YMCA Scotland’s Sharing the Past to Shape the Future HFL funded young roots project

Source – Told In the Huts – A YMCA Gift Book

Further information about Lena Ashwell can be found in this blog

A group at Lena Ashwell's special matinee at the Lyric Theatre on 29 June 1917, in aid of the Concerts at the Front Fund. A number of society ladies took part and the scene depicted shows the Swinburne Ballet which was a special feature of the entertainment. In the centre is Lady Diana Manners, later Lady Duff Cooper. Numerous matinee performances such as this were organised and acted out by society ladies during the First World War. Date: 1917

A group at Lena Ashwell’s special matinee at the Lyric Theatre on 29 June 1917, in aid of the Concerts at the Front Fund. A number of society ladies took part and the scene depicted shows the Swinburne Ballet which was a special feature of the entertainment. In the centre is Lady Diana Manners, later Lady Duff Cooper. Numerous matinee performances such as this were organised and acted out by society ladies during the First World War. Date: 1917

 

Sharing the Past to Shape the Future is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

On Saturday 22nd of October, YMCA Scotland hosted its Annual Business Meeting and Inaugural Awards Dinner.   The Keynote speaker for both events was the World President of the YMCA, Mr Peter Posner OBE.  

At the ABM, YMCA Scotland launched its first ever digital Annual Report. The report offers an insight into the fantastic work that takes place in YMCAs across Scotland. www.ymcascotland.org/report

Mike Will MBE stepped down as Chairman of YMCA Scotland after eight years to concentrate on his new role as President of YMCA Europe.  Jamie Lockhart was appointed Chairman.  At 24 he is YMCA Scotland’s youngest Chairman.

Jamie Lockhart is a 4th year theology student at the University of Edinburgh and has served on the Executive Committee of YMCA Scotland for 3 years.

“I am thrilled and honoured to have been elected as Chair of YMCA Scotland. Throughout the past 5 years, I have been involved with YMCA at all levels from local to international, finding YMCA to be a champion of youth empowerment. My election highlights the organisations commitment to youth empowerment.”

YMCA Scotland hosted its Inaugural Awards Dinner which saw young people, volunteers, board members and staff from the YMCA movement across Scotland recognised for their outstanding commitment and support.

The evening was hosted by Jamie Lockhart and Matthew Dellaquaglia and the World YMCA President, Peter Posner OBE, presented winners with their awards.

The Awards were sponsored by  YMCA George Williams College, Tilney Best Invest, SSVQ, Anderson Strathern, YMCA Scotland Full Board and YMCA Plusone Mentoring

Awards were presented in twelve categories  including Inspirational Young Person, Mentor of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

Jordan Murray from Ypeople, was nominated for 3 awards and won the Young Leader of the Year Award, then went on to win the overall 14-25 age category,  the John D Knox Youth Achievement award.  

On his win, he said “I’m so honoured to have been awarded with Young Leader and the John D Knox Youth Achievement Award, as well as two runner up prizes, by YMCA Scotland. I never expected to be so successful, and the whole experience was exciting and humbling. YMCA Scotland has given testament to the fact that passion, enthusiasm, and hard work are rewarded in some way or another. After a time of struggle and great difficulty in my own life, I now strive to make things easier for others that find themselves in a challenging situation. I am so thankful that YMCA Scotland has recognized years of dedication to my organisation, Ypeople. I would also like to extend my thanks to Sheena and Pauline from Ypeople, who nominated me and have shown great support for the past 6 years of my life.”

4

The full list of winners is:

Young Volunteer – Sean MacIvor, Tain & District YMCA

Young Leader (14-17) – Jordan Wilson, Tain & District YMCA

Young Leader (18-25) – Jordan Murray, Ypeople

Young Trustee – Sarah Turner, Aberdeen YMCA

Inspirational Young Person – Courtney Graham, Cupar YMCA-YWCA and Stephanie Wagner, Perth & District YMCA

Volunteer of the year – Chris Bousfield, Tain & District YMCA

Trustee of the year – Bob Copleton, Paisley YMCA

Mentor of the year – Nathalie Nogues, YMCA Edinburgh

Youth Worker (p/t) of the year – Nicole Jackson, Bellshill & Mossend YMCA

Youth Worker (f/t) of the year – Graham Nutt, Tain & District YMCA

Impact Award – Living Balance – Perth & District YMCA

John D Knox Youth Achievement Award – Jordan Murray, Ypeople

The final awards of the night were the Sir George Williams Medal for outstanding and distinguished service for over 20 years to the YMCA.  

There were four recipients of the Sir George Williams Medal:

Tom McPherson Bellshill & Mossend YMCA

Stewart McCrae Cumbernauld YMCA-YWCA

Peter Robertson Dumfries YMCA

Eleanor Campbell Cumbernauld YMCA-YWCA

In your community, maybe even in your street, there are troubled young people with nobody in their lives to support them except paid professionals: their teachers, social workers, police and the courts. Shannon, whose story is below, is one of them.
Children like 10 year-old Shannon get labeled ‘problem children’. But at YMCA we see the potential,
not just the problem.

Once a child starts growing up, even the most loving parent or guardian can’t be with them every minute of the day. By the time she was 10, Shannon was getting into trouble at school. She lived with her grandparents who loved her dearly but were struggling to control her behaviour. She was easily influenced by some of the older children in her street and started doing risky things with them.

Through YMCA Scotland, Shannon was referred to Angie, a trained, committed Plusone mentor. They didn’t hit it off at first. Shannon wouldn’t make eye contact or say how she was feeling. But they found they had one thing in common: they were both scared of heights. Angie took Shannon to a climbing centre and they tackled the climbing wall together.

Over the next 6 months, as they went on different outings and excursions, Shannon came to trust Angie.

They had good chats about her behaviour and Shannon set some goals: she would stop shouting out in class; she wouldn’t get involved in her schoolmates’ dramas; and she wouldn’t stay out late with the older kids in her street.

“Shannon’s teacher was first to notice the difference. Shannon was calmer and less easily distracted.”

She tried harder and got better marks in most of her projects. Shannon’s grandparents were delighted too. There were no more shouting matches late at night and Shannon went off to school happy every morning. At YMCA, we can’t protect children and teenagers from all the challenges life will throw at them, but with your help, we can give them a one-to-one mentor who will take them under their wing and help them to be the best person they can be.

With a donation from you, we can bring a trained adult volunteer from our Plusone mentoring programme into the life of a young person like Shannon for as long as 12 months.

Somebody who will meet them every week and listen to them without judging; get them into fun activities and out of risky behaviour; and show them there’s usually another way to tackle the situations they find themselves in, so they can be the best person they can be. We know our mentoring programme works.

Last year, young people you’ve helped us to support, gave us an average of 4.6 out of 5 in our mentoring satisfaction survey.

It doesn’t cost much to help give a Scottish child a chance, just 16p a day.

In return, we’ll give you a yearly update on the difference your regular donation is making to vulnerable young people like Shannon.

Donate

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To mark our 172nd Birthday and to coincide with the World YMCAs World Challenge 2016, YMCA Scotland has launched its YMCA Voice Website

 

YMCA Scotland decided it wanted to provide a space for the issues that young people face and a way for their voices to be heard. Often young people’s voices are too easily ignored, their issues pushed aside. We decided to challenge this.

 

The voices website is part of YMCA Scotland’s Voice Group. A team of Ambassadors from across YMCAs in Scotland ready to stand up for their peers. A combination of Youth Leaders, Change Agents, Volunteers, Heritage Ambassadors, European Representatives and most importantly young people with real issues.

 

The website, launched today, is honest, its real, its fresh. It contains the voice of Jamie, a homeless person who got help from Cumbernauld YMCA. The voice of a group of young people at Dumfries YMCA who got together to talk about what affects them. And the team at Aberdeen YMCA, who came together to show us what affects them and what they are doing about it. Alongside posts from local YMCA the website includes guest posts with the aim to educate and inspire young people.

 

The website launch today is just the start, as voice grows so will the website, Young people across Scotland are encouraged to get involved and submit content. To tell us your stories, so as a voice group we can respond.

 

The website can be found at: ymcavoice.org

31 July 2017

Heritage Project

YMCA Scotland will be working in partnership with Dr Yvonne McEwen for an upcoming heritage project. The project is to focus on the work of the YMCA during The Great War. For more information on this in the mean time, please see our recent Facebook post featuring Yvonne’s article for Passchendaele 100, which was published […]

Read more




15 May 2017

Vote for your Future

Only 43% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the last election, the lowest of any age group, despite having the most to gain and the most to lose. This needs to change if you want to see decision makers make you a priority through policies that will positively impact on your lives and prospects. The […]

Read more




10 May 2017

YMCA GENERAL ELECTION MANIFESTO 2017

With only four weeks to go until the UK votes for its next government, YMCA is calling on candidates across the political spectrum to “put youth first” with its election manifesto. Inspired by discussions with young people across England, Scotland and Wales, YMCA’s manifesto brings together more than 40 recommendations that it believes will improve […]

Read more




16 February 2017

Volunteering overseas: The journey of a lifetime

Since stepping foot in my local YMCA in Newcastle fifteen years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to have had experiences with the movement in four continents. From my first trip to India aged 17 for the 150th anniversary of the Paris Basis to more recently representing Y Care International at the World Council in Colorado, each […]

Read more




17 January 2017

Be Real Campaign launches body confidence toolkit for schools

Research conducted by YMCA uncovers evidence of body image anxiety in 11 to 16 year olds The Be Real Campaign, of which YMCA is a founding partner, today launches the Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools (Tuesday 17 January 2017). Aimed at secondary schools and made up of essential guidance, materials and advice on teaching […]

Read more




28 November 2016

Peter Robertson

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the sudden death of Peter Robertson.  Peter was out playing walking football, which he loved, when he suffered a fatal heart attack. I know that you will all hold Peter’s wife Alison, sons Simon and Jonathan and wider family in your thoughts and prayers at […]

Read more




11 November 2016

YMCA Scotland Remembers

“Give us something nippy, miss” As the world remembers those who have died. YMCA Scotland also remembers those YMCA workers and volunteers who used their talents to comfort servicemen as they fought in the trenches and in times of death. Lena Ashwell was one of these determined and talented people. She wrote “The YMCA realised […]

Read more




8 November 2016

YMCA Scotland ABM and Awards Dinner

On Saturday 22nd of October, YMCA Scotland hosted its Annual Business Meeting and Inaugural Awards Dinner.   The Keynote speaker for both events was the World President of the YMCA, Mr Peter Posner OBE.   At the ABM, YMCA Scotland launched its first ever digital Annual Report. The report offers an insight into the fantastic work […]

Read more




10 October 2016

Shannon’s Story

In your community, maybe even in your street, there are troubled young people with nobody in their lives to support them except paid professionals: their teachers, social workers, police and the courts. Shannon, whose story is below, is one of them. Children like 10 year-old Shannon get labeled ‘problem children’. But at YMCA we see the potential, not […]

Read more




6 June 2016

YMCA Scotland Announces launch of Voice website.

To mark our 172nd Birthday and to coincide with the World YMCAs World Challenge 2016, YMCA Scotland has launched its YMCA Voice Website   YMCA Scotland decided it wanted to provide a space for the issues that young people face and a way for their voices to be heard. Often young people’s voices are too […]

Read more