Learn to dwell in the uncomfortable
By Pip Wilson, trainer and group worker Growth does not reside in a place called comfortable Human development does not reside in a place called certainty Wholeness does not reside in a place called self Freedom does not reside in a place called security There’s something rich about being poor. That sort of thing was said of the Master, who humans with a Christian faith – like myself – in our stumbling fumbling way, decided to follow. They said of him: ‘He who was rich became poor.’ How about applying that next time you are in a crowded room? Choose to talk with the least attractive human rather than crowding around the current YMCA personality? We’ve all heard about stepping outside our comfort zones. And I don’t doubt you step outside them in your day-to-day work. How about considering deliberately stepping outside them? Choose to sit close to someone who is scary, loud, noisy, or smelly... Not oppressively close, but close enough that some words may be naturally exchanged. Hope that a better relationship may develop and, more importantly maybe, that you may learn... I leave you with a blessing. To read it is to reside in a place called comfortable. To absorb it is to daily refresh your irritation: May God bless you with discomfort At easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships, So that you may live deep within your heart
ABOVE: Blob Journey by Ian Long and Pip Wilson

Join the fun at the Great North Run and support Team YMCA
Find out more on page 7


May God bless you with anger At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war, So that you may reach out your hand to comfort and To turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness To believe that you can make a difference in the world, So you can do what others claim cannot be done To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor Uncomfortable is a healthy place to reside. If you’d like to contribute to our back page inspirit reflection contact

Funding to promote excellence in youth work
The YMCA’s successful Aim High project – which helps YMCAs to work more effectively with young people – has been awarded £448,000 over three years to develop a regional support scheme. The funding from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is to set up an Aim High Regional Franchise. This will offer support and training to staff and volunteers that work with young people at 45 YMCAs. Youth work development adviser Alison Dean said: ‘We are delighted that the DCSF continues to endorse Aim High. This project offers better career development to YMCA workers and better programmes for young people – it’s a real win-win!’ Aim High Regional Franchise was developed after a consultation found that YMCAs prefer youth work standards to be achieved through continuous development with regional support. The results of the external evaluation have been compiled as report, Aim High 05-08, which will be available in July 2008. The 45 YMCAs will be given professional development tools, advice and funds to support 135 youth workers or volunteers, who will receive accredited training. The funding will also be used to train 18 part-time regional peer mentors who will be seconded to YMCAs,
ABOVE: Youth work at Kingson and Wimbledon YMCA.

and to promote and support the YMCA’s youth work Insync standards. The franchise aims to result in more confident and skilled youth workers with greater support, a higher standard of youth work across the YMCA, and better youth programmes for more than 5,000 young people. If you are interested in becoming a paid part-time regional mentor, or if you want to be one of the 45 YMCAs to benefit from the scheme contact Alison Dean on 07801 659 264 or

More youth work training for young people
The Princes Trust has won funding to continue Youth Steps, for which the YMCA is a national delivery partner. Youth Steps is a training programme for young people who want to take a first step to become a youth worker, particularly those who have few qualifications or reduced employment prospects. ‘With this successful bid, YMCA England can continue to be a lead partner in Youth Steps,’ added Alison. ‘The scheme offers young people an amazing opportunity to take their first steps to a career in working with young people.’ If you have young people aged 17 to 25 interested in a career in youth work contact Alison Dean (details above). Youth Steps offers accredited training to VRQ level 1 in Youth Work.


YMCA England contacts
Communications: 53 Parker Street, London, WC2B 5PT – 0845 873 6633 Dunford House: Dunford, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 0DG Finance: 640 Forest Road, London E17 3DZ – 020 8520 5599 Fundraising: 53 Parker Street, London, WC2B 5PT – 0845 873 6633 Housing: Colman House, Station Road, Knowle, West Midlands B93 0HL – 01564 730 229 Human Resources: 640 Forest Road, London E17 3DZ – 020 8520 5599 Insync Standards: Armstrong House, 4/6 The Finningley Estate, Hayfield Lane, Doncaster DN9 3GA – 01302 623 066 Lakeside National Centre: Newby Bridge, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 8BD Offender services unit: c/o Craven YMCA, Pinder House, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 2NS – 01756 709 566 Shops: Unit 2, Malvern View Business Park, Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham GL52 7DQ – 01242 677690 Sport, Health, Exercise and Fitness unit: 53 Parker Street, London, WC2B 5PT – 0845 873 6633 Working with young people unit: 53 Parker Street, London, WC2B 5PT – 07801 659264

The next issue of intouch, out in July, will feature a review of YMCA National Assembly 2008. Please send any events, news items or feedback (clearly marked ‘for publication’) to: – 020 7061 3337

ABOVE: Training at St Helens YMCA

National Council of Young Men’s Christian Associations (Incorporated). A Limited Company registered in London no. 73749. Registered office: 640 Forest Road, London E17 3DZ. Charity no. 212810.

inside: Thousands confirmed for YMCA Europe festival • Supporters’ hope for young offenders • Updates from around YMCA England • Learn to dwell in the uncomfortable • Young people get active in politics • Summer garden party for YMCA supporters

intouch • APRIL 2008




Calling all new readers
If you are reading this for the first time, it’s possibly because you’ve picked one up in your National Assembly welcome bag. And if you’re wondering what intouch is, it’s the newsletter for the YMCA in England – offering news, updates and opportunities for all YMCA staff and volunteers. To join our mailing list and receive a copy every four months email: Hope you enjoy the read! Peter Shaw, editor

Thousands confirmed for YMCA Europe festival
At the start of February more than 5,000 people had signed up to take part in YMCA Europe 2008. This includes over 400 registrations from YMCAs in England. YMCA Europe, which takes place in Prague from 3 to 9 August, promises to be the largest YMCA youth festival in Europe. The first festival took place in 2003, and the organisers are looking to double the number of young people taking part to 10,000. With tickets selling fast they are over halfway to achieving that figure. So don’t miss out on your place, for details of how to book contact Ken Montgomery on or 01325 364690


Anjan Mukherjee
General Secretary of the YMCA Indian Student Hostel
A veteran of the YMCA for 35 years, Anjay first encountered the movement in 1973, when he joined the YMCA in Calcutta – rising to become general secretary in 1998. After serving for three years he joined the YMCA India national offices in Delhi. The YMCA Indian Student Hostel is one of YMCA India’s nine national development projects. Launched in 1920, the hostel welcomes Indian students studying in the capital, is a cultural centre and conference facility. Anjay joined the YMCA Indian Student Hostel in 2007, and will serve as general secretary for three years. Why did you choose to come to live in London? My passage to the UK began in 1982 when I visited at the invitation of the YMCA in Portsmouth. I came back in 1986 to visit YMCAs in Wales for a three-month study tour. I also completed a professional course with the YMCA George Williams College. What do you enjoy about visiting England? I owe a lot to England, when I first visited my eyes were opened to the wide variety of opportunities the YMCA in England offers. I also enjoy the culture. I’m fond of old castles, cathedrals, monasteries and abbeys. I have fantastic friends here and I enjoy of theatre, particularly Shakespeare’s plays. What links are there between YMCAs in the UK and India? Calcutta YMCA and Swansea YMCA were twinned. We started what we called the International Work Camp in 1985. A lot of people became YMCA leaders and volunteers through the work camp programme. One of these was a very good friend of mine, David Bedford [now chair of YMCA England’s National Board]. We recently caught up after nearly 20 years. What can the YMCA in India offer to young people in England now? You have to understand why they do what they do. Young people have often had such bitter experiences in their families, which has left a scar in them. There’s a lot of emptiness in their lives. We at the YMCA of India would love to help in any way we can to show them the alternative path of peace and reconciliation. Learn more about the current activities and history of the YMCA Indian Student Hostel here:

Bands, artists and performers...
The festival will feature a packed programme of arts, music, worship and speakers. A number of topname artists and performers from across Europe and beyond have been confirmed to perform in Prague. From the UK is DJ Mark Hill, who co-founded Artful Dodger in the late nineties and wrote hit garage tracks such as Rewind, Woman Trouble and Moving Too Fast. He co-wrote and produced Craig David’s hit debut album, the multi-award winning Born to Do It. He has had more than 20 UK top 20 hits, two number ones and amassed over 15 million sales worldwide. As well as performing at the festival, Mark will run DJing workshops. From Malta comes singer/songwriter Ira Losco. Ira and her band have performed to sold-out audiences for the past two years. She has played support to international stars like Katie Melua, Elton John, Akon, Enrique Iglesias, Maroon 5, Ronan Keating, Bob Geldof and Mel C. Pulz are a rock band from Switzerland that have close connections with YMCA projects in their home country as well as in Belarus. Winners of several awards, Pulz recently won a Swiss battle of the bands competition. With their infectious gospel mix of funk, soul, R&B and traditional Nigerian rhythms, UK-based Four Kornerz take their audience on a musical journey to the ends of the world. Nominated for various awards, the band recently won Best Gospel Album at the 2007 Christian Broadcast Council Awards. Also performing on various stages will be young people from the many YMCA Ten Sing groups from across Europe. Other programme activities including speakers, workshops, drama and more performers will be announced regularly in the weeks leading up to the festival.

intouch • APRIL 2008
DESIGNED AND PRODUCED BY: YMCA England Movement Communications 53 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PT T 0845 873 6633 F 0845 873 6644 intouch • APRIL 2008

ABOVE: DJ Mark Hill

ABOVE: Four Kornerz



intouch • APRIL 2008


Young people get active in politics
By Zoe Harris, participation project coordinator More than 140 young people came to Claim Your Voice events in its first year, and we are looking for more YMCAs to take part in 2008. The project now operates in the Midlands, South West and North West regions. We are looking for more young people in those areas to sign up for free training residentials, which will take place in May and June 2008. Places are limited so please book soon. Young people who participated in the project in 2007 went on to host events attended by MPs and representatives from the police, Racial Equality and local council. Claim Your Voice is a three-year Electoral Commission funded project that aims to increase the political participation of young people aged 16 to 25 who are involved with local YMCAs. The project offers young people the opportunity to get involved through training residentials, local events and workshops. If you are interested and would like to find out more, please contact me: or 020 7061 3325.

Pilot project gives hope to young people in prison
By Calum Thornton, project worker We recently ran a successful pilot xl club at Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institute Wetherby in West Yorkshire. The pilot was the first xl club to have been successfully run in a secure establishment. Prince’s Trust xl clubs target young people facing difficulties in education. Deliberately informal, the clubs seek to re-engage and motivate young people. Club members learn to take responsibility, develop social skills and enjoy the benefits of teamwork. Out of 16 young people identified as individuals who could benefit from the course, eight were selected to take part. All but two of the group stayed on until the end, one of these was released early and the other transferred to another institute.



The clubs seek to re-engage and motivate young people.

The group set their own ground rules and timetable, and chose the topics they wanted to look at. Although initially wary of each other, by the end of the six weeks they worked well as a group – supporting and looking out for each other. Working toward their bronze ASDAN award, the group decided to design a leaflet for young people new to the prison system. The excellent user-friendly introduction was taken up by the induction staff at Wetherby, which they now hand out to new inmates. Over the weeks I learnt a lot about the young people. They were fun to be with and worked hard – nothing like the bad stories I’d heard from other areas of the prison. Those that are still here when the next course starts want to take their silver ASDAN award. Staff from YMCA England’s Offenders Services Unit will be at National Assembly in April, and we are happy to talk about our work and how your YMCA can get involved. Look out for the team at coffee breaks!


ABOVE: Southampton YMCA Claim Your Voice team

Supporters’ hope for young offenders
By Rajesh Bhayani, head of direct marketing and legacies We’ve been busy over the last few months raising awareness of the work of the YMCA, and celebrating its achievements. Homelessness is still a key focus for appeals, but recent communication with existing and potential supporters has highlighted our work in prisons and Step-In youth homelessness project. Last September we wrote to supporters asking their views on young people and offending behaviour. The response was very positive in terms of both quantity and quality. We received more than 2,000 responses, with the great majority of supporters expressing optimism about the future prospects of young exoffenders. See the chart, right, for details. Recently we also expanded our FreshStart supporter newsletter, allowing us to share more YMCA stories with supporters. The March 2008 issue features
ABOVE: FreshStart newsletter intouch • APRIL 2008

selected highlights from YMCAs across the country including Sunderland, Guildford and Eastbourne. To order your copy contact Charlene Vallory, direct marketing officer, on or 020 7061 3331.


Partnership is key to extended services
By Joy Namayanja, extended services advisor The first meeting of the extended services reference group took place in February. Made up of representatives from YMCAs, 4Children, ContinYou and statutory organisations, the group made excellent progress. Discussions on the day concentrated on the challenge of designing sustainable extended service programmes – and we also looked at what support YMCAs need to address these challenges. The group felt that: • It is vital to establish trust between school management teams and YMCAs • YMCAs must identify the unique selling points that make them best suited to providing extended services • YMCAs must be strategically placed to contribute fully to the development of activities and services • YMCAs must form partnerships with key players to identify gaps in provision • Head teachers will always want evidence of how extended services will impact on meeting their targets

RoomSponsor reaction
We have received more than 160 letters from supporters in response to our January RoomSponsors update. Updates are sent quarterly and include personal letters from RoomSponsor residents. Here’s an extract from a letter received from a supporter in response to a progress update from Oliver, the young person she supports through monthly donations: ‘I was thrilled to learn how Oliver has continued to develop and grow in confidence, and is clearly determined to make the most of all the opportunities with which he has been provided. I express my admiration for all that you do to enhance the lives of the young people who come to you for help. I’m delighted to be associated with it.’ SUPPORTER SURVEY : Young people and offending
With the right support, do you believe a young person that has committed a crime can turn their life around? 82% agreed – 3% disagreed By addressing young people’s spiritual and physical needs are vulnerable young people less likely to turn to crime? 68% agreed – 4% disagreed Did you know that YMCA work with young offenders significantly reduces re-offending? 37% said yes

ABOVE: After school activities at West Bromwich YMCA

The main conclusion drawn at the meeting was how important it is to build relationships and work in partnership with key organisations, such as schools. Coming soon – the full results of a mapping exercise undertaken into existing YMCA provision of extended services.



intouch • APRIL 2008



Summer garden party for YMCA supporters
By Jenny Collins, major gifts officer YMCA England is holding a garden party in Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, to celebrate the YMCA’s work with young people. The event, hosted by supporters Baron and Baroness van Dedem, takes place on Sunday 15 June from 14.00 to 17.00. Among the activities will be performances from young people, local jazz musicians and a chance to drink tea from a lovingly refurbished wartime YMCA Tea Car, which will be making a special appearance. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about some of the rich history of the area, which dates back to Tudor times. The magnificent Richmond Palace once stood on the grounds and its original gatehouse still exists. We’re keen to get lots of young people involved in the event. In particular we are looking for gifted musicians or dance groups to perform, as well as volunteers to help the day run smoothly. So, if you’d like a great day out and the chance to show off your skills please contact me. Alternatively, if you’d simply like to come along, tickets cost £5 and include a soft drink and cake. For more

Conferences and events
30 Apr-4 May 27-30 Jun YMCA Europe General Assembly 2008 YMCA Europe Training Centre, Litomysl, Czech Republic ‘Lost in Translation?’ how YMCAs across Europe can be one Young Carers Festival YMCA Fairthorne Manor, Curdridge, Southampton The biggest gathering of young carers in the world Peter Cooper – 01489 785228 Greenbelt 2008 – ‘rising sun’ Cheltenham Racecourse Find a line-up of top bands, speakers and performers at this Christian arts festival Y Fest: a national festival Bethel Convention Centre, West Bromwich Celebrating the YMCA in England: who we are, and who we can be

22-25 Aug

21 Nov

Great North runners required!
By Sarada Chaudhuri, trust fundraiser
ABOVE: YMCA Garden Party venue

details on how to take part, or book your ticket contact me on or 020 7061 3327. All money raised will go towards the YMCA Step-In Project, which tackles the root causes of homelessness, particularly among those aged 16 and 17. You can learn more about the big impact Step-In is making in the progress report below.

Making a big difference to young homeless people
By Emily Petheram, Step-In project coordinator Our Step-In project to tackle homelessness among 16 to 17 year olds is progressing well, with 11 staff members working in six areas. The project is making a real difference in the lives of young people, rebuilding relationships with friends and families. In many cases the young person has successfully returned to their family home, or been given help to find safe accommodation. We are organising the first placements with supported lodgings schemes – a great example of YMCAs and hosts working together to help young people rebuild their lives. Through Step-In, we have learnt many lessons about youth homelessness and how to develop a realistic and achievable response to the problem. As the schemes flourish, we expect the project’s performance to continue to improve and both professionals and young people experience more positive results. For further updates and progress reports visit or contact me for details.
intouch • APRIL 2008

Step-In stats
Young people aged 16 and 17... ...given a safe place to live ...back in contact with family ...returned to family home ...learnt about the reality of homelessness More lodgings for young people… More beds available for young people Community host places offered Partner organisations helped to develop youth homeless services 18 6 28 9 7

Last year’s Great North Run raised over £5,000 for the YMCA, and you can help us to top that in 2008! YMCA England has 20 places in the world’s biggest half-marathon on Sunday 5 October. The 13.1-mile course across the North East from Newcastle to South Shields, takes in famous landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Stadium. Although challenging, you will be raising money for young people across England. The day promises to be great fun too. We offer an excellent package of fundraising, training advice and support, contact with other runners, a free running vest and more. In return we ask for a minimum sponsorship of £300, and a firm commitment to training to complete the race. To take part in this year’s run contact me on or 020 7061 3344.

ABOVE: Great North Runners, Clare Joof, Roger Lewis and Laura MacDonald

YMCA meetings
15 Apr 24 Apr 26 Apr 08 May 14 May 20 May 21 May 22 May 03 Jun 05 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 12 Jun 17 Jun 19 Jun 25 Jun Constitution committee Pensions directors National board of trustees Development and housing committee Regional Executive Officers 24-hour meeting Standards steering group South East regional committee Regional chairs Southern regional committee South West regional executive Constitution committee/ North West regional committee Movement trust fund Finance committee North East regional executive Employment committee Yorkshire and North East Lincolnshire regional executive
intouch • APRIL 2008

London Marathon volunteers needed
It’s nearly time for the London Marathon, Sunday 13 April, when tens of thousands of people will take to the streets to raise money for charity. A team of 27 YMCA runners will take part, many representing their YMCA. We are looking for volunteers to help us on the day, cheering on our runners at our base in Greenwich, and meeting and greeting the team at the post-race hospitality. If you can give just a few hours to support our wonderful YMCA runners, contact me on the details above. Good luck to Team YMCA on the 13th!





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