Q&A with YMCA Group Mission and Marketing Executive Director

With an increasing focus on our movement’s mission, we speak with Nottinghamshire YMCA’s Group Mission and Marketing Executive Director Simon Brighty about what ‘mission’ really means for this 150-year-old movement…

What is Nottinghamshire YMCA’s Group ‘mission’?

Meet-the-Team-Simon-BrightySimon: Our mission is always evolving to meet the needs of local people, but the core driver of every programme and service we deliver as a Group movement is to empower young people to belong, contribute and thrive in their communities through promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

The wider YMCA movement was born from a desire to serve young people and every decision we make – from branding to programme delivery – is underpinned by our youth agenda. It is through this paradigm that we want to refocus our regional charity’s lens to champion homelessness prevention and other strategies that will nurture a safe community in which our next generation can grow with confidence.

How can we achieve this?

Simon: Every time we live out one of our core values by being caring, honest, responsible or respectful of those around us we are furthering our charity’s mission to build a more inclusive and fair society together.

By creating services that support the whole of society, our ‘leave nobody behind’ attitude motivates an overarching holistic approach to empowering children so they can achieve their life potential. We are in a unique position to deliver such varied services that all work to give young people opportunities they would not ordinarily be able to access. This equips us to open doors for children at crucial stages in their life development.

Targeted support of key developmental assets such as socialisation and values building through our STEAM programmes further helps to shape fully rounded adults who are geared up to engage life opportunities when they arise.

Our aim is to traverse the whole age spectrum with support packages, ranging from creche provisions for children as young as six months old at our YMCA Community and Activity Village in Newark to vulnerable and NEET young people receiving life guidance through our supported housing and residential care solutions.

In addition to youth programmatical aspects such as camps, childcare and YMCA Digital (etc.), all other service areas indirectly facilitate this strategic direction. Even our gym memberships drive in-part contributions to help support our young residents.

Rapid expansion of these innovative place-based services creates an infrastructure to nurture positive social change so we can harness our community’s efforts into safeguarding the futures of children, young people and families across the region.

How is our mission responding to the needs of our community?

Simon: It is vital that our YMCA remains mindful of the evolving needs of society, which helps us to understand the overall health of our community and in turn shapes the future opportunities available for young people.

For instance, COVID-19 sparked an urgent community need that demanded reactivity from our teams to ensure we continued to serve local people who were most in need of aid. Positive action ranged from a collaborative clothing project in Aspley – which saw hundreds of clothing items donated when lockdown first took hold – to continuous engagement with local businesses to supply homeless individuals with food, morale-boosting games and toiletries throughout the pandemic.

We also need to be aware of social, technological and economical aspects that impact on society and the risk factors for young people. For example, rising house prices will impact on young people in the future, so YMCA providing scholarship and educational opportunities will help equip children with the career and life tools to boost their chances of attaining financial stability in adulthood.

As the pandemic places extra pressure on the mental wellbeing of children, our provisions such as Adventure Guides and the upcoming climbing wall in Newark work to promote positive mental health and fitness – not just for young people, but also parents and older individuals who shape the life journeys of children around them.

What are the biggest challenges to overcome for achieving our mission?

Simon: To accommodate our exciting and steep growth trajectory, there is a massive awareness piece needed. We need to proactively educate the various strings of our movement to ensure that operational processes coordinate with each other effectively and feed into the overarching narrative we are working to create for the benefit of all.

In addition to internal pieces, myself and other members of our Leadership Teams play active roles in engaging business groups and local partnerships. Working collaboratively is so important for helping to ensure our goals are recognised by key community leaders to make it easier for furthering our transformational agendas going forward.

Simon Brighty is happy to discuss all things Mission with anyone wishing to learn more on: