The latest annual report by YMCA Robin Hood Group reveals how the charity has continued to provide a lifeline to thousands of young and vulnerable people, in spite of the many challenges posed by the pandemic.
The report, which outlines the YMCA’s achievements between April 2021 and April 2022, shows how the charity provided 25,260 childcare sessions, placed 1,235 residents in supported housing and engaged 101 children in outdoor education.
Meanwhile, the new 5,000m2 YMCA Community & Activity Village in Newark began its phased opening and took an impressive 11,159 bookings to use its state-of-the-art facilities, which include an Ofsted registered nursery, a climbing centre and a gym, which has already had 17,930 visitors through its doors.
The report was shared during the YMCA’s AGM on 28th September where a new Chair of Trustees, Angela Barbaro-Robins, was appointed. Angela replaces Michael McKeever, who has sat on the YMCA Robin Hood Group Board for more than 13 years.
Throughout the pandemic, YMCA Robin Hood Group continued to provide training, apprenticeships, mentoring, educational support, experiential learning and creative activities, alongside advice around housing and health and wellbeing to a host of young people with complex needs.
Successful initiatives included the National Lottery funded Building Better Opportunities programme, which provided people with mobile phones and laptops during lockdown. During 2021 and 2022, the Outdoor Education service delivered on several large scale projects and was integral in the development of the Newark climbing centre.
In addition to this, the Adventure Guides programme enabled 30 families to spend quality time together through outdoor exploration and adventure. Meanwhile, the Y’s Girls mentoring programme continues to connect mentors and mentees, giving 25 young women a chance to speak to someone they can trust who is not part of their school or family.
Michael McKeever, former Chair of Trustees, said: “The YMCA has faced many tough challenges this year in the aftermath of Covid. Volunteer numbers dipped, venues sat empty and many vulnerable young people sank into social isolation. In light of these challenges, I’m proud of the way we swiftly responded and continued to provide vital services to the people who need them most.
“We’re confident that, moving forwards, our new Chair of Trustees will continue to steer the ship towards our vision, so that we can stay attuned to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve and stay nimble enough to meet our evolving pressures.”
Other improvements implemented over the course of the year included moving educational and supportive services online in order to reach more young and vulnerable people, as well as the wider community. The YMCA also upskilled staff, invested in facilities and reached out to people yet to emerge from isolation after lockdown to involve them in face-to-face events.
Another core focus was the provision of supported housing and children’s residential care across Nottingham, Mansfield, Worksop and Goole, which is a much needed resource for local authorities and offers young people a fresh start in life.
Brenda Serrant, Executive Director of Children’s Residential Services at YMCA Robin Hood Group, said: “We’re proud to have helped so many young people access residential care so that they can have the best possible chances in life from an educational, career and wellbeing perspective. However, recruitment in this area has been challenging and we need more human resources if we’re to continue offering this service. The YMCA is a great place to work and a job here makes a huge difference to the lives of so many, which is why we’re encouraging people to apply for a role with us.”
Craig Berens, CEO for YMCA Robin Hood Group, said: We have made some incredible progress in the last year, including work on our flagship Community and Activity Village in Newark, which represents everything we stand for as a charity. It provides a broad array of experiential learning opportunities which are designed to positively impact the lives of young people and families by bringing people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities together.
“We’re committed to providing young people with the opportunity to contribute and thrive because we believe that a sense of belonging is greatly enhanced by a sense of place. Our hope is that people of all ages will view the Village as a community in itself and a safe space in which to explore, learn and have fun while accessing world-class facilities.
“After the challenges of the past couple of years, we are now looking forward to providing the best possible support and facilities for young people across the region. This is so that they may realise their full potential and be part of a thriving community.”