Mind, body and spirit

While YMCA Lincolnshire is celebrating its 150th anniversary the wider society can trace its history to 1844 when George Williams, a textile worker, and a group of like-minded young men held prayer meetings. These gradually evolved into a wider movement which they named the Young Men’s Christian Association.

Today hundreds of YMCAs operate all over the world sharing an ethos ‘To demonstrate our faith through social action’, providing support within communities for children and young people, in housing, childcare and for the most vulnerable in society.

Lincolnshire originally had two YMCAs – Lincoln YMCA and Stamford YMCA – before their merger in 2005. YMCA Lincolnshire was joined with The Nomad Trust, the Lincoln-based homelessness charity, in 2013.

You can find out more about YMCA Lincolnshire and how you can become involved in their anniversary year by visiting: www.lincsymca.co.uk

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March 2019

2019 is a landmark year for YMCA Lincolnshire as it celebrates 150 years of social action in the county.

Any organisation which has endured for more than 150 years – and the YMCA nationally is 175 this year – must not only be held in great affection but must also have adapted to meet the needs of its beneficiaries through the generations.

Caroline Killeavy, chief executive of the organisation in Lincolnshire explained: “The core values of supporting mind, body and spirit are still at the centre of everything we do as we work with communities in Lincolnshire. There are partnerships and local, regional and national organisations but the YMCA has always been effective in tailoring support to local and contemporary issues.”

One of the main branches of the initiatives undertaken by YMCA Lincolnshire is youth work through training, sport and social activities. The Showroom on Tritton Road, Lincoln houses a gym and activity centre, café and bar, Climbing and Bouldering Centre as well as conference and function spaces which host an extraordinarily wide programme of events. On a visit to the centre you could find it being used by, amongst others, Home Learning groups, students with mainstream educational challenges, an LGBT group for teenagers, a Parkour club or hosting a conference or family celebration.

Early years childcare is supported through YMCA Beginnings and the YMCA Woodlands Day Care Centre. Training can be offered with general continued professional development as well as health and exercise qualifications.

The YMCA’s Hostel has 132 units of supported accommodation across the city which provides safe and stable homes for vulnerable residents while they receive support from other partner agencies to aid their progress to self-sufficiency and learn the skills they need to maintain a tenancy independently.

Lincoln has made local and national headlines recently because of the increase in people rough sleeping in the city. Through its Nomad project, YMCA Lincolnshire operates an Emergency Night Shelter on Monks Road offering 21 direct access beds where those with the greatest need can have a hot meal, shower and hot breakfast as well as referral for health care and other appropriate services to ensure they can reach essential services and move-on options. In 2018 they had 270 people through their doors. The work of Nomad is supported by their own branded charity shops in the city: one on Moorland Avenue and another on Waterside South.

The Lincoln Nomad Centre, which is expected to be built in 2019, will offer health and wellbeing services from a range of organisations alongside emergency overnight accommodation. The new centre will combine 20 en-suite rooms above a hub where visitors can receive nutritious meals, medical care for physical and mental health needs, housing support and skills training.

The Lincoln Nomad Centre looks to build on the vital services YMCA Lincolnshire already provides, whilst at the same time ensuring that the needs of every individual can be met all in one purpose-built space.

The new centre will still provide a safe space to sleep, but will give individuals the privacy and dignity that the current shelter on Monks Road cannot.

We are all familiar with the eponymous pop song but if you dig deeper into the lyrics, many lines resonate with the shelter, sustenance and understanding which lay at the heart of the organisation’s ethos.

“YMCA has been a transformational influence for thousands of people over the years,” said Caroline, “and in our anniversary year we are launching WhyMCA? an event where we will be looking to challenge preconceptions of the YMCA as an organisation. We are an inclusive organisation and aim to have no barriers to anyone needing access to our support and will continue to strive to do this for the next 150 years. WhyMCA? is something that will help us to continue with that ambition.”

During 2019 YMCA Lincolnshire has a wide range of fundraising events which they would like the county community to sign up to. You can play your part by being sponsored to help them fill their funding gaps, accept some personal challenges as well have lots of fun in support of the charity.

Some of the Lincolnshire Life team have already signed up to the Sleep Easy on 15th March when they will sleep outdoors at Lincoln Cathedral, replicating what it feels like to spend a night on the street. Two of the Showroom activity instructors will also be simultaneously sleeping in their bivouacs strung high on the climbing wall at the centre.

In 2018, classrooms and playgrounds across Lincolnshire were transformed as schools educated their children about homelessness whilst raising vital funds for the YMCA’s work in this area.

This year, as part of YMCA’s 150th birthday, they are looking for more schools to take on the challenge! Schools are invited to host their own Sleep Easy events. Most schools host remote Sleep Easy events in their school grounds, as they tend to be secure, with all facilities within easy reach.

Launched in February and running until October, the Paperclip Challenge is the project of marketing officer, Zoe Conville.

“The Challenge is inspired by Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald, who traded one red paperclip 14 times over the course of a year with his final swap being a two storey farmhouse. Your mission will be to start with a purple paperclip and trade it as many times as you can before October. Final trades will then be auctioned by Bargain Hunt’s Colin Young at The Showroom on 11th October to raise funds for YMCA Lincolnshire.”

For walkers, runners and cyclists there is the Lincoln 10K for which you can sign up with the fundraising team, or a 150 Miles Challenge. During June the gauntlet will be thrown down to encourage individuals, couples or teams to cover 150 miles by foot or cycle. It could be one person achieving the total distance or ten people covering 15 miles each.

“This challenge reflects the reality that homeless people have to walk substantial distances in a day to find lavatories, food or a bed. They may also be continually being moved on in the street,” said Zoe. “It is also just over 150 miles from Lincoln to the place in London where the YMCA was founded 175 years ago.

“All these events are part of the partnership we make with members of the community who want to give something back. We think they will be challenging, fun and thought provoking events to be part of. We will be encouraging everyone to send us their selfies so that we can create a giant collage celebrating all who took part.”

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