It’s a pleasure to sit down and reflect on all that the Team at YMCA Humber has achieved in 2019.
My first year in this new role has been incredibly busy but at the same time most rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable. I am blessed to be able to go home every day with the knowledge that everything we do at our wonderful organization is making a positive difference. I see this reflected with our residents who, with our support, make the steps towards independent living in the knowledge that we will always be there for them. In 2019, YMCA supported over 500 individuals in our supported accommodation alone. This is in addition to the people we’ve supported through our mental health project, and at our youth clubs.
It seems a long time ago since our Sleep Easy event in February 2019, particularly as we are currently well into the organization of our 2020 event taking place on 7th February. Last year we raised over £30k towards helping homeless people and this year we are hoping to raise even more.
We set out our 3-year Strategic Plan in March and I’m thrilled to be ticking off our achievements as we honour our strategic intent and do what we said we’d do. In 2019 we purchased two properties, with a view to extending our Move-On provision, meaning that we have our own homes for our hostel residents to move into when they are ready. One of those properties opened in October, housing 6 females and the second is due to open in January 2020, providing housing for 5 males.
In the Summer of 2019 YMCA Humber was awarded ‘Pilotlight’ status by the Garfield Weston Foundation, meaning that at the end of the year we started to work with a team of Pilotlighters to support us to become the best organization we can be; our aspirations are off the charts and so this support is hugely welcomed.
A huge turning point for us was when our planning application for our proposed new state of the art building at Freeman Street was granted in October. A couple of weeks later we received news from Homes England that they would support the scheme with a £3.325m grant. This was followed swiftly by news that the Garfield Weston Foundation had granted us £300k towards the community facilities on the ground floor of the building. YMCA Humber will be borrowing some £3.5m to deliver this accommodation for people who would otherwise be homeless, and we hope to be on site by the end of March 2020. Our Design Team has been meeting since April 2019 and so this is the culmination of a huge amount of effort so far, but one which will see YMCA Humber really step up as a community leader in the town of Grimsby, acting as the catalyst for the intended regeneration of the Freeman Street area.
In September 2019, YMCA Humber hosted the first stop of a national touring exhibition, celebrating 175 years of YMCA history. We chose to hold the event at Central Hall in the heart of the East Marsh and were delighted that over 400 people visited the exhibition, many of them school children.
Of all the wonderful things we’ve achieved in 2019, I’m also incredibly proud of the work we’ve done to become a better employer, delivering on key elements of our new People Strategy which included many actions to improve the wellbeing of our staff. Our organization will only ever be as good as the people who work here and I’m proud that we have taken valuable steps forward to ensure that we are employing great people and looking after them as a good employer should. YMCA Humber is incredibly blessed with some fabulous, passionate and committed individuals and it’s my job to ensure it stays that way.
So, as I look back on the year, it’s easy to focus on the prominent things that we have achieved but equally large are the steps that our residents have taken with our support. Two of our young residents were shortlisted in the national Youth Matters Awards for their achievements. Just before Christmas I chatted to two of our former hostel residents who had both moved into their own accommodation. It was great to see their happiness when talking of Christmas plans in their new homes and it made me very proud of the support we’d offered them whilst they lived at the YMCA. The fact that they chose to pop in and see the staff at YMCA Humber in the run up to Christmas says it all really – they value our organization and know that we’ll always be here for them should they need a friendly face. These stories are just two examples of the hundreds we could choose from in 2019 alone. Our work to support the most vulnerable people in our society is probably our biggest achievement of all.
May I finish the year with some thanks. May I thank everyone at YMCA Humber and in the wider community, our friends and partners who have supported me personally in this first year in my role. I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by such talented, hard-working and supportive people. May I also thank each and every person, and organization who has supported YMCA Humber with generous donations of goods or their time as a volunteer; we appreciate it so much.
I wish you all a happy, healthy 2020. Exciting times for the new year are on the agenda at YMCA Humber.
Best wishes, Debbie