As our nation celebrates ‘Victory in Europe (VE) Day’ to mark the end of World War Two on 8th May 1945, the UK’s shared understanding of unity and what it truly means to stand together has never before harboured such sombre poignancy than it does today.
Navigating two world wars and now a global pandemic, the endurance and fierce dedication with which the YMCA movement cares for our community’s most vulnerable members through a crisis has always been – and continues to be – a source of comfort and strength.
Next year, Nottinghamshire YMCA will proudly celebrate 150 years of delivering frontline services to ensure young people and homeless individuals are awarded a better chance of building a brighter future. As a movement shaped by a great line of inspirational people, the charity will always remember its roots and wartime activities.
In 1941, the regional charity’s grade two listed building on Shakespeare Street first opened its doors during the darkest days of the Second World War. With local people urgently needing somewhere positive and safe to turn, the venue quickly became a lifeline social hub to boost the mind, body and spirit of our community. (Today, of course, the building has evolved to now house almost 100 formerly homeless residents and young people.)
As one of the biggest providers of home-front support for soldiers and families during the war, YMCA volunteers also delivered everything from tea and refreshments to books via a mobile library to keep families entertained and mentally occupied during the trepidations.
It is fantastic to see that our YMCA COVID-19 volunteers are doing their charity ancestors proud, with donations of food and essential provisions from our Amazon Wishlist pouring in to help our residents stay safe and nourished through the lockdown.
VE Day gives us an opportunity to remember those who gave their lives to protect our country, and to take forward their learnings into our own sense of social responsibility as we support each other through the current COVID-19 plight.
Throughout each unprecedented challenge, the generosity and human compassion of our supporters sets our hope alight with confidence that our YMCA movement will continue to thrive, serve and protect our community for years to come.
With care in our hearts, we will get through every adversity together.
Image credit: Full credit for these fantastic wartime photos goes to Clive Martin Webb and The Old Parish of Nonington. You can find more information on their website here.