What a difference a van makes!

YMCA York & East Riding is based in Goole, an isolated community with poor transport links to local services – the local college is over 20 miles away! Our residents don’t have their own vehicles and trains to Hull run once an hour, creating a significant barrier to accessing further education. The same challenges make it difficult to support residents when then need to attend a doctor’s appointment, or any other health and wellbeing service.

We are incredibly grateful to Awards for All, part of the National Lottery Community Fund, whose generous donation meant we were able to purchase a van earlier in the year. The difference it makes to the lives of our residents is hard to underestimate. They now access courses, classes, and health and wellbeing appointments, along with other opportunities that would previously have been too distant or expensive to attend due to transport costs (vehicle hire and a driver).

Thanks to the van, some of our residents took part in a project at the School of Artisan Food at the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire. This course, run over a period of 8 weeks, allowed young residents access to a professional teaching kitchen and one-on-one teaching, ranging from basic cooking skills to more complex and varied meals. The course includes a fascinating day of foraging, learning how to identify, pick, and incorporate wild herbs and foodstuffs into their meals, as well as a trip to a farm to learn about the processes involved in bringing dairy and meat to their table.

Working alongside chefs and a host of other new people helped build our residents’ confidence in social settings; a boost to self-esteem that was only increased when they were asked to contribute to a fully published recipe book at the end of the programme. Without the van, we would have been unable to access this incredible opportunity.

To show first-hand how the van has empowered us to support our residents, we want to share Stacey’s story with you:

Stacey came to the YMCA as a 17-year-old following a relationship breakdown at home which meant she could no longer live with mum and stepdad. She suffers from anxiety, low mood, and depression, and arrived at our door with addiction issues and physical challenges. The van from Awards for All enabled her to access rehabilitation support and get to and from her appointments.

Stacey was one of the first volunteers to attend the cooking course, the benefits of which have been clear to see. Being on the course has boosted Stacey’s confidence and inspired a love of cooking – comments from the chefs about her involvement and development have been fantastic. Stacey says:

I highly enjoyed the cooking course….it showed how simple cooking can be….to create something so nice. Also having other people from YMCA, it was so nice to have people from a completely different area who are in the same position as us and talk to them, I think it highly benefited our minds as a lot of us were inexperienced making food, knowing how things are made or created, so I think it was brilliant to be shown all this and to be able to take away the whole experience.’

The impact of having a working vehicle has been amazing, giving the young people we serve and care for opportunities that can last a lifetime. We want to say a huge thank you to Awards for All’s generous, important gift!