One of the more painful aspects of the heartfelt, charitable work we do at YMCA is seeing a much-loved service close. It is difficult to announce that despite significant efforts, it has not been possible to secure the continued funding needed to keep Y’s Girls running. This was always within the realm of possibilities, as Y’s Girls was established as a pilot programme dependant on funding, but we know this is a disappointment for everyone involved. Staff, mentors, and mentees have been informed and though understandably upset, they understand the situation and have expressed gratitude for the impact the programme has had on their lives.
We are so very proud of Y’s Girls and all that this incredible programme has achieved. We’re deeply grateful to Asma and Shruti, who have run this programme with compassion, and to our mentors, who have given generously of their time and opened their hearts to mentees. Most of all we are proud of our 14 courageous 2022/23 mentees for the positive steps they have taken. We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s been involved in Y’s Girls, and to recognise the incredible work that has been done.
Over the past year alone, Y’s Girls has organised numerous trips where mentees have had the chance to learn new skills and develop self-confidence, including a visit to Clumber Park, where the young girls learned about protecting and nurturing nature, and a climbing event at the YMCA Village where they learned about resilience. They also enjoyed a goal-setting workshop, along with coached table tennis sessions.
It would be impossible to sum up every aspect of learning and development our mentees have achieved – these are deeply personal journeys built on trusting relationships, so every story is unique. That said, individuals have learned to overcome shyness, improve communication, develop confidence, discover new interests, hobbies, and potential career paths (such as learning how to sew and work with textiles), and even speak in a public setting about how the programme has impacted them. They’ve had a Christmas party, designed T-shirts and bags, and engaged in a host of fun, collaborative activities.
We’re very proud that our Y’s Girls Mentoring programme won Family and Youth Work Programme of the Year in 2022 – one of the Youth Matters Awards for that year. Charlotte Robinson, a Y’s Girls Mentoring volunteer, was nominated for ‘Young Leader of the Year’ for her work providing life-changing support to her mentee through her inspirational determination and care.
Steffen Benbow, Operations Manager for Children, Youth and Families said: “I’m very pleased and proud of Shaquille, Asma, Shruti and all of the volunteer mentors at Robin Hood Group, positively representing our YMCA’s core values and engaging our children and young people positively to help them to develop and thrive. Congratulations on your amazing achievement!“
Difficult though it is to face the reality of the service’s closure, we want take this opportunity to shout Y’s Girls’ incredible achievements to the skies, and to assure families, mentors, and mentees that our door is always open to them as valued members of the YMCA community.