Latest News

Executive and Board of Trustee Changes at YMCA Bournemouth

Following a review of the current executive staffing structure and in order to drive forward the Association’s strategy for the next five to ten years, we are looking to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer as soon as possible, with the current Executive Director, Jackie Weeden, taking over the role of Chief Operating Officer (Finance Director) once the new appointment is made.

The Board of Trustees believes that the new structure will ensure the continuing success of YMCA Bournemouth and make us well-placed to continue to serve our current clients and customers, as well as expanding throughout Dorset in the coming years.

The Trustees wish to reassure our partners that all services are continuing during this period of change and of their complete confidence in the executive team.

The Trustees would also like to announce that Colin Hartland has stepped down from his post as Chairman of the Board of Trustees after the three years permitted by our constitution. They would like to sincerely thank Colin, who remains a member of the Board, for his excellent support and also to welcome our new Chairman, Richard Elms. Richard has been a member of the Board since September 2015 and is looking forward to fulfilling the role of Chair.


Easter message from our Chaplain, Jez Du Puy

When thinking what to write in order to inspire you to embrace the celebration of Easter, not just on April 1st 2018 but every day of your life, my mind was drawn towards a quote from the much loved preacher Billy Graham who passed away just a few weeks ago.

He said, “The resurrection of Christ changed the midnight of bereavement into a sunrise of reunion; it changed the midnight of disappointment into a sunrise of joy; it changed the midnight of fear to a sunrise of peace.”

Can you remember the story of David and Goliath? Goliath was a Philistine warrior destined for victory over the Israelite army.

Goliath said, “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” – 1 Samuel 17:8-9

The Israelites were petrified of Goliath and too scared to enter into battle. Then steps up David, a shepherd boy, who was willing to trust that God has his back, David believed that if he trusted God he would have the victory. We know how the story ends, with one pebble David knocks down Goliath giving the Israelite army the victory. Overnight, the Israelite army were transformed from being an army of losers into an army of winners.

The Easter story holds that same message, as Billy Graham points out, Jesus’ resurrection meant that overnight His followers were transformed from being a bunch of bereaved, disappointed, full of fear losers, into an army of winners full of joy and peace.

This is the message for you this Easter, without the resurrection of Jesus there is no hope for us. We need to place our trust in God, as David did. If you embrace Jesus’ sacrificial love displayed in his life, death and resurrection, I promise that you will receive joy, peace and new life.


Join The Chatterboxes in Bournemouth Square on Thursday 29 March to help us celebrate World Autism Awareness Week

On Thursday 29 March from 11am-4pm, local youth action project The Chatterboxes (part of YMCA Bournemouth) will be holding an event in Bournemouth Square to raise awareness of autism. The event is timed to coincide with World Autism Awareness Week (26 March – 2 April).

Organised by local young people who are passionate about the issue, the event will provide a space where people can learn more about autism in a fun environment. There will be activities for all the family, from interactive games to an art workshop to celebrate individuality, plus professional advice and support.

Visitors to the event will be able to:

  • Find out the facts about autism
  • Test their existing knowledge through interactive games and activities
  • Celebrate their differences and what makes them unique
  • Get advice about where to go if they need support

Learn more about the Chatterbox Project and what we are doing to ensure young people with autism are heard in our community

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people see the world and how they communicate with other people. Approximately 700,000 people in the UK are estimated to be on the autistic spectrum, around 1 in 100 of the population.


YMCA Bournemouth supports body image campaign after research shows half of young people are bullied about their looks

bullying statistic
We have thrown our support behind the Be Real Campaign after new YMCA research revealed today that half of young people have been bullied about the way they look, with two fifths of those experiencing this bullying at least once a week.

Most of the bullying focuses on weight and body shape, with 60% of young people admitting they tried to change their appearance after being bullied and 24% said they reduced the amount they ate or went on a diet. In some cases the effect was more severe with one in ten of those being bullied about their looks having suicidal thoughts and 9% saying they self-harmed as a result.

The research was done by YMCA England & Wales, which spoke to more than 1,000 young people aged 11 to 16 years old as part of its new report ‘In Your Face’, which is part of the charity’s Be Real Campaign with Dove.

Highlighting the devastating effects appearance-based bullying has on young people, the research also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, most young people experience this bullying in person (72%) and not online. A staggering 80% of those getting bullied about the way they look do so in school or college.

We run a wide range of services across Dorset and had an average of 317 young people accessing our youth projects every week during 2017 and 1118 families using our children centres in the same year. We are urging local schools to be at the forefront in tackling body image anxiety. It’s calling on schools to become a Be Real School by using the campaign’s free Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools, which has already been downloaded by over 700 schools and colleges.

Jackie Weeden, YMCA Bournemouth Executive Director, says:

“Bullying has always existed among young people, but this generation face increasing pressure to live up to unrealistic beauty ideals which they say come from celebrities, social media and the media.

“It’s crucial that we teach young people how to feel comfortable in their own body and that looking different isn’t a bad thing. Educating young people about the effects of bullying alongside body confidence will help to tackle this issue where it’s most prevalent, schools.

“We know from previous research that young people who have learned about body confidence at school feel better about their bodies. We want schools in the local area to use the Be Real Campaign’s Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools to help their pupils navigate this image obsessed society we live in.”

Michelle, a young person from our Chatterbox youth action project, describes her own experience of being bullied:

“At school I felt massively isolated by my peers because I was different physically and also because I was autistic. Just because I didn’t talk the same, look the same or wear the same things, I was an outcast. They made horrible comments about my weight and how I looked. I was given a nickname and I was punched every day by someone I knew was being bullied himself.

“Four years of bullying put me in a deeper depression. I comfort ate just to feel better. I found it hard to concentrate in class and couldn’t get to sleep at night because I was anxious about the next day. At one point I had to get my hair cut short, which I hated, after people repeatedly put gum in my hair.

“Being yourself is the most important thing. People who bully you are insecure and desperate to fit in – but those groups mean very little over time. You have nothing to be ashamed of, just be you.”

Other key findings from the Be Real Campaign’s ‘In Your Face’ research include:

  • 54% of young people who experience bullying about the way they look, do so by the age of 10
  • 1 in 2 of young people reported becoming anxious as a result of being bullied about the way they look
  • 53% of young people think bullies have insecurities about themselves / their own appearance

Read the full research document here: http://bit.ly/berealresearch


Meet Ryan, the newest member of our Chaplaincy team

Our chaplaincy service exists to offer spiritual support, pastoral care and moral guidance to the organizations staff, volunteers, clients and their families.

The chaplaincy team are passionate about being available to support people no matter what their background or circumstance.

If you would like to speak to someone on the chaplaincy team please contact Jez by telephone 07557088564 or by e-mail jez.dupuy@ymcabournemouth.org.uk



“The official numbers are just the tip of the iceberg,” says YMCA as England rough sleeping statistics released

fundraising for the homeless in bournemouth

New Government figures released on January 25th, 2018 show that:

• 4,751 rough sleepers were counted in Autumn 2017 (up 15% on 2016)

• 8% (373) of these were under 25 years old

• The number of rough sleepers is up 269% since 2010 (1,768 rough sleepers counted in Autumn 2010).

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive for YMCA England & Wales, said:

“The rise in those rough sleeping is by no means a surprise for professionals working in the sector. For years we have warned that rough sleeping is a crisis in the making. We know from working with 18,000 people experiencing homelessness each year that the official numbers are just the tip of the iceberg and that there are many more people who have no other choice but to sleep rough on streets across the country.

“We hope at some point these shocking figures will be the wake up call government needs to realise that rough sleeping is a national crisis it can no longer ignore and that we urgently need practical support to help end it.”

In Bournemouth, the number of people bedding down on our streets has gone up by 300 per cent since 2010, when 12 were recorded. The 2017 count found 48 rough sleepers, up from 39 last year.

If you would like to help us combat homeless in the Bournemouth area please contact us at fundraising@ymcabournemouth.org.uk or sign up for details of our fundraising and volunteering events here



Prezzies for Rezzies: could you bring a smile to someone’s face this Christmas?

How many presents do you expect to get this Christmas? Some people won’t expect any.

Many YMCA residents have no social connections, some are not invited home for Christmas and for others, home is a stark reminder of an abusive past. Please help us change that!

You can do so by donating presents to our supported housing residents. Present ideas include toiletry items, puzzles, art materials, sweets and warm clothing for the winter (no alcohol please). Please click on the image for more information.

We have collection points for UNWRAPPED gifts at:

– YMCA Bournemouth, 56 Westover Road BH1 2BS
– Southbourne Childrens’ Centre, 108 Stourvale Road, BH6 5JB
– The Junction Leisure Centre, Broadstone BH18 8AX

For further information please contact Tess on 01202 290451

Thank you so much for your generous support!


A significant moment in YMCA history

YMCA Bournemouth is a member of a much larger organisation with a rich and proud history. On the evening of Wednesday 22 November 2017, YMCA England & Wales  returned to its roots at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate its work, pay homage to supporters, staff and volunteers and give thanks for the life and pioneering work of its founder.

St Paul’s Cathedral has played a continuing pivotal role in YMCA’s 173-year long history. Founded by Sir George Williams in its Church Yard in 1844, at just 22 years old, he would later be laid to rest in its crypt following his funeral there in 1905.

Proceedings began with a wreath laying ceremony in the crypt beneath the cathedral at the grave of Sir George Williams, attended by his direct descendants who placed the wreath. It closed with a blessing led by YMCA’s President, The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Afterwards, guests and the public gathered inside the Cathedral’s walls in their hundreds for a special YMCA-themed Choral Evensong, one of the most-loved services at St Paul’s, and sung by the Cathedral Choir.

The service put particular focus on our growing work around young people’s mental health; it was shared with the congregation the vast reach and impact that YMCA has, with its mental health services alone supporting more than 17,000 young people in the last year.


Lytchett Minster School 6th form students raise over £3000 for YMCA Bournemouth by ‘sleeping rough’ in their school grounds


On 3rd November, over 60 local sixth form students gave up their Friday night to raise funds for YMCA Bournemouth and raise awareness of local homelessness by building cardboard box shelters in the grounds of Lytchett Minster School and sleeping outside for the night. The event raised over £3000!

The participants, Lytchett students aged between 16 and 18, sought sponsorship from family and friends before spending the evening creating their shelters – made from boxes donated by The Big Yellow Self Storage Company – taking part in quizzes and keeping themselves warm through exercises, eating croissants donated by Tesco and pizza donated by Domino’s.

Prizes were awarded for the best shelter and the winning teams, led by Millie Murray-Brown and Katie Harrison, were presented with Domino’s vouchers. Thank you gifts including Primark vouchers and driving lessons from New Driver School of Motoring were also on offer for the star fundraisers, the winner emerging as 18-year-old Rhiannon Weaver who raised over £250!


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