Dorset Chamber executives to join 40+ local businesses ‘sleeping rough so others don’t have to’ on behalf of YMCA Bournemouth

Our CEO Gareth Sherwood with Dorset Chamber CEO Ian Girling

On Saturday 16th November this year, almost 200 representatives from local businesses will be bedding down under the stars at The Bournemouth Sports Club (Chapel Gate), near Bournemouth Airport, as part of our ‘Big Sleep Easy 2019’. The event is designed to raise awareness of local homelessness and fund projects that aim to keep individuals safe from homelessness over the long-term.

Building on the success of our inaugural Big Sleep Easy in 2018, which saw 98 individuals from 23 local organisations build shelters out of cardboard boxes, sleep outside for a night and ultimately raise almost £25,000 towards the charity’s work, this year’s sponsored sleepout has already recruited over 120 fundraisers and over 40 local businesses are expected to enter a team.

Martin Stockley, our Senior Operations Manager, said: “Dorset businesses clearly take social responsibility seriously, and we are particularly impressed by the number of Dorset Chamber (DCCI) members happy to give up a night in the warmth of their homes to support some of the most vulnerable people in their community.”

The list of DCCI businesses already supporting the event includes Lester Aldridge LLP, Store and Secure, Preston Redman LLP, Nunet, Ouch Training, BrightBox Designs, A-One Insurance Group, Laceys Solicitors LLP, Humphries Kirk Solicitors LLP, Lewis Investment, SG Financial, TeamJobs, Homeline Mortgages, Marquee Elegance, Ward Goodman, Motley, REIDSteel, Hoburne Holidays, Life Matters, Biz Space, Ace Office Environments, Insure for Retirement, FC  Douch & Son and Octima.

Inspired by the commitment of its members, Dorset Chamber CEO Ian Girling and others in the organisation are also backing the Big Sleep Easy. The DCCI team consists of Ian, board members James Robinson and Simon Boyd, plus Young Chamber Coordinator Joan Senior and Dorset Gateway Business Advisor Susannah Kennedy.

“No one should be sleeping on the streets in the 21st century and in fact this problem seems to be getting worse,” said Ian. “As a Chamber we are really keen to back the great work of YMCA Bournemouth in providing support for people experiencing homelessness and we are really pleased to be taking part in the Bournemouth Big Sleep Easy.”

Part of the event’s appeal is that spending a night outside in November links directly to the experience of the people it aims to help, with the obvious difference that the event takes place in a safe environment marked more by camaraderie than it is by the loneliness and insecurity experienced by the homeless.

Lester Aldridge solicitors are taking part for the second year running. Matthew Barrow, Managing Partner, said: “We all found it incredibly tough. It gave us a tiny glimpse of how hard it must be as a way of life. If you are considering taking part this year, we’d really encourage you to do so – we’ll certainly be there!”

There’s still plenty of time to get involved and we make doing so a simple process, so if you are interested in joining other local businesses and individuals to make a difference to the local community, please email fundraising@ymcabournemouth.org.uk or call us on 01202 290451.


Congratulations to our GEM Award winners

A belated congratulations to the three staffmembers who won our ‘Going the Extra Mile’ (GEM) Award for their contributions to the ongoing success of YMCA Bournemouth.

The winners were Kerry Smith, the manager of Teddy’s Pre School; Rosie Wingrove, a relief practitioner at the YMCA Bournemouth Child Contact Centre; and Laura Giles, the manager of YMCA Lifewise Gym, Bournemouth and YMCA Lifewise Sports Hall, Bournemouth.

“I’m very happy to be acknowledged in this way,” said Kerry. “I love working for the YMCA, everybody does a fantastic job in their own particular field and so many go the extra mile on a daily basis.”

“I am extremely grateful,” said Rosie. “I hope I make a difference the safety and welfare of all the individuals I work with.”

“Being told you’re appreciated is one of the simplest and most uplifting things you can hear,” said Laura. “It’s a real pleasure to be part of the YMCA. I’m the one who should be thanking the organisation for giving me this opportunity.”

CEO Gareth Sherwood said: “Thanks to each of you for your care and dedication. It’s a delight to lead such an extraordinary group of people.”


HealthBus drop-in clinic for the homeless, supported by YMCA Bournemouth, receives £50,000 Nationwide Community Grant


This summer, the HealthBus, a healthcare outreach service for rough sleepers operated by Boscombe’s Providence Surgery and supported by YMCA Bournemouth, received significant recognition of the value of its work when it was awarded a grant of £47,993 from the Nationwide Community Grants programme. The money will fund GP costs, insurance, nursing salary, drug/alcohol and mental health specialists and equipment.

Parked outside St Stephen’s Church in Bournemouth every Thursday from 9am to 12.30pm, The HealthBus provides a lifeline for rough sleepers whose health problems can otherwise remain unchecked due to the barriers they face, such as being asked to leave GP waiting rooms because of their appearance, hygiene or behaviour, or – contrary to NHS guidelines – being refused registration because they have no address. The service reaches up to 200 people annually.

Shockingly, the average life expectancy of a homeless person is just 47 for men and 43 for women and, as reported in a recent article in the Guardian, new research reveals that homeless people in England are 60 times more likely to visit A&E in a year than the general population.*

“A huge thank you to Nationwide for their enthusiasm and support,” said HealthBus’s founder Dr Maggie Kirk. “The funding ensures that we can keep going this year and expand by looking to employ additional staff. This is going to make a big difference to many rough sleepers. Timely, low-cost interventions and preventative healthcare at the point of need can save the NHS thousands of pounds… and save lives.”

HealthBus trustee Christopher Hughes emphasised the importance of their supporters: “It just wouldn’t be possible without our brilliant staff, volunteers and our exceptional partners: YMCA Bournemouth, Providence Surgery, St Stephen’s Church, Howard Hughes Business Solutions, Green Tambourine, and now Nationwide.”

The Nationwide Community Grants programme awards grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 towards housing-related projects that support the most vulnerable and which make a positive change in a local area. It awards up to £5.5 million each year to 11 regions across the UK..

Lindsey New, Branch Manager at Nationwide, Southbourne, and Sally Duckmanton, Assistant Branch Manager at Nationwide, Winton, were chosen to present the cheque to Dr Maggie Kirk and her team.

“Nationwide was set up to help people into homes of their own and we are very pleased to donate to the HealthBus,” said Lindsey. “Homelessness could happen to anyone and this is a great way to be able to help.”

“We must aim to understand homelessness and homeless people more,” added Sally, who, along with Lindsey, is now discussing the possibility of Nationwide staff volunteering with the HealthBus.

YMCA Bournemouth Senior Operations Officer Martin Stockley commented: “It’s fantastic to be involved in this project, one which helps some of the most marginalised people in society and which will also reduce healthcare costs to the NHS over the long-term. This funding is recognition of how valuable the HealthBus is to the local community and we are hugely grateful to Nationwide for their generosity.”

You can find out more about the HealthBus at https://healthbus.co.uk/


Big Sleep Easy participant chooses YMCA Bournemouth to receive £100, and the presenter of the cheque decides to match it!

Lauren Cooper, who is taking part in our Big Sleep Easy ‘Sleep Rough So Others Don’t Have To’ event on 16 November this year, was attending the British Insurance Brokers Association conference (BIBA 2019) when she entered a prize draw run by Q Underwriting, of which aQmen Underwriting is a part.

As charity, faith and recruitment specialists, aQmen Underwriting offered a £100 donation to the winning brokers’ charity of choice. Lauren chose YMCA Bournemouth.

“I am amazed at the work you do,” explains Lauren. “I’ve seen first-hand how hard you work and how important every penny is this charity. Hopefully I’ll be bringing in many more donations for this very worthy cause in the run-up and aftermath of the Big Sleep Easy.”

Ian Sadler, Broker Development Manager for aQmen Underwriting, visited YMCA Bournemouth’s hostel in Westover Road, Bournemouth to present Lauren and Accommodation Support Worker Peter Burt with the donation. He appreciated the set-up and commitment he found at YMCA Bournemouth to the extent that he decided to match-fund the £100 from his own charity account.

“As a specialist underwriter for charities and faith based organisations, we work with many brokers partners who are active within civil society,” said Ian. “It is fantastic to hear that Lauren is taking part in the Big Sleep Easy and sleeping rough so others don’t have to; this is a great cause and we’re proud to support one of our broker partners in their charitable endeavours.”

If you might be interested in your team taking part in Bournemouth’s Big Sleep Easy, you can find out more at www.ymcabournemouth.org.uk/event/the-big-sleep-easy-2019/.


Innovative Parking Charge Helps Watkin Jones Donate £500 to YMCA Bournemouth’s Townsend Youth Project

Keiron Davies, Steve Davies, Angela Reece of YMCA Bournemouth and Paul Hughes.

One of the UK’s leading construction and development companies, Watkin Jones, has donated £500 to YMCA Bournemouth’s youth work in Townsend, Bournemouth.

The funds were raised as a result of the company introducing a weekly parking levy on contractors working at their site, The Helm (Telereal), in Bournemouth. Money raised by the scheme is distributed to good causes voted for by local people, with YMCA Bournemouth the most recent recipient.

Keiron Davies, Assistant Site Manager, said: “We are always looking for new ways to be an even more considerate constructor. This is a great way to give something back to the local area. I am so pleased that the community is getting involved by voting for the cause they want us to donate to. We are thrilled to make this presentation to the YMCA an organisation we know does great work for the area’s young people”.

YMCA Bournemouth’s youth provision operates across Dorset and includes four youth clubs –Branksome, Pokesdown, Fusion (central Bournemouth) and Townsend – plus a children’s project in Townsend, volunteer placements, outreach work and The Chatterboxes youth action project for young disabled people.

The cheque was received by YMCA Bournemouth’s Head of Youth Work Angela Reece who said:

“We’re grateful for this generous donation from Watkins Jones. Townsend Youth Centre provides young people aged 5-19 with a safe place to go, five days a week. This donation will help us buy some much needed equipment and provide a fun trip for the summer.”

For further information about our local youth work, please see http://ymcabournemouth.org.uk/youth-centres/youth-projects/


YMCA celebrates 175 years!

YMCAs across the country celebrated on Thursday 6 June 2019 to mark 175 years since 22 year-old draper George Williams joined 11 friends to organise the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets of London.

That was in 1844. Today, YMCA has grown to serve more than 65 million people in 120 countries regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic background.

You can find out more about our history at www.ymca.org.uk/about/history-heritage



YMCA Bournemouth / HOPE Housing’s team of residents and volunteers win the Bournemouth Football Club’s Unity League!

The champions! The Raiders with our Head of Housing and Support, Kathleen Pearce.

Residents and volunteers from supported housing providers YMCA Bournemouth and Hope Housing were rightly proud of their team’s recent victory in Bournemouth Football Club’s Unity League. The ‘Raiders’ achieved 18 points to become 2018/2019 Bournemouth Unity League Champions, having won six of their games and losing only two.

The Unity League was set up in January 2018 by AFC Bournemouth’s Community Sports Trust to provide local footballers with regular competitive matches and local organisations such as The Quay Foyer, Dorset Mental Health Forum’s REACH, YMCA Bournemouth and Hope Housing with the opportunity to get involved.

Our Accommodation Support Worker Ricky Codadeen both played in the team and helped coach the Raiders in partnership with Alan Gurluk of Hope Housing. The team featured homeless individuals currently housed by the two charities plus a number of volunteers.

“It was a fantastic season for Raiders FC with our players giving their very best to finish as 2018/2019 Bournemouth Unity League champions,” said Ricky. “The season was tough with players picking up serious injuries along the way and us having to make a lot of tactical changes, but they responded really well.

“It is difficult for the lads dealing with a lot of complex issues. Many haven’t played football for years so it was a massive achievement and a great partnership between YMCA Bournemouth and Hope Housing.

“A special thanks goes to our European volunteers for taking part and to AFC Bournemouth for organising the league. It was a pleasure to be a player/coach and I am very proud of our team ­– they worked their socks off!”

Regular Raiders team member and supported housing resident Syed Ali said it felt great to have come top of the league. He also emphasised how useful the experience had been:

“Given where we have come from and where we are now, people have a lot of issues going on. When you take part in a team it takes you out of that. You make friends. It brings people together and helps you get your head straight. It’s a chance for you to breathe again.”

To find out more about our the support we provide our housing residents please visit http://ymcabournemouth.org.uk/housing/


Harlem Globetrotters meet with hostel residents and staff at BIC to mark YMCA’s invention of basketball

On Saturday 4 May, residents and staff from our hostel in Westover Road were invited to meet legendary exhibition basketballers, the Harlem Globetrotters, before going on to enjoy the team’s electrifying performance at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC). The invitation came about as a result of the Globetrotters and YMCA having a long relationship based on the shared aim of bringing more people together to share the benefits of basketball, a game effectively invented by YMCA.

It was in 1891 at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts that the idea for basketball took shape. A 31-year-old graduate student called James Naismith was given the task of creating an indoor physical activity to distract a rowdy class and keep them physically active during the winter months.

The first attempt did little to reduce rowdiness. Played with a football and with peach baskets as goals, the game ended in a free-for-all with an injury tally that included several black eyes, one separated shoulder and one player knocked unconscious! Understandably, this led Naismith to introduce a rule dictating that you couldn’t run with the ball and thus basketball was born. With YMCA’s worldwide network of gymnasiums, the game soon flourished.

The hostel residents invited to the Globetrotters’ event were homeless individuals whom the charity provides with one-to-one support and free access to a range of sporting facilities, including a basketball court, as part of their journey towards greater self-confidence and independent living.

“We really appreciated the opportunity to see a world-class basketball team in action,” said YMCA Bournemouth resident John Nicholson. “On behalf of everyone I’d like to thank the YMCA staff that made it possible – just like the Harlem Globetrotters, they are a first-class team!” The residents were in for another treat when the Globetrotters paid tribute to YMCA by interrupting their perfomance to dance along to the Village People’s song of the same name!

The attendees took the opportunity to request a basketball signed by each of the Globetrotters and this will now be displayed at the charity’s Westover Road gymnasium.

One of our core beliefs is that everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of physical exercise and we operate a range of local sporting facilities and projects which also allow us to generate income to go towards our work in homelessness, youth, disability and family support. These include the aforementioned Lifewise Gym and Sports Hall, The Junction Sport & Leisure Centre in Broadstone, a table tennis club in Winton and children’s holiday clubs across.

Illustrating how influential YMCAs across the world can be, Harlem Globetrotter Torch George explained how she herself had benefited from the organisation’s support:

“It was my safe haven growing up. I would always walk to the YMCA after school and play basketball with the local kids. I love the organisation and it shares the same core values as the Globetrotters. I’ve learnt so many life lessons through sports: communication, leadership, integrity and friendship. It’s critical that places like the YMCA keep their doors open for kids who have dreams for a better life”.

If you would like more information regarding our sports facilities and holiday clubs please contact martin.stockley@ymcabournemouth.org.uk


Almost two thirds of young people feel pressure to look their best online

Almost two thirds of young people (61%) feel pressure to look their best online, according to new findings from YMCA England & Wales. The alarming research also revealed that more than two thirds (67%) regularly worry about the way they look.

In response to this pressure, YMCA’s research found that more than two thirds of young people (67%) edit photos of themselves before posting them on social media and nearly a quarter (23%) spent more than five minutes doing so, with some taking over an hour. These edits would typically include removing blemishes (11%), smoothing their skin (10%), and whitening their teeth (7%).

Less than a fifth of young people (16%) said that looking at social media positively affected how confident they felt about the way they look. When asked what could be done to change this more than two fifths of young people (43%) said that people should unfollow accounts that promote negative messages about the way people look to promote body confidence on their social media channels.

Celebrities and social media influencers also have a role to play. More than half of young people (53%) said that celebrities and influencers sharing more realistic images of themselves would encourage people to post content that more accurately reflect what they look like in real life.

YMCA England & Wales spoke to more than 2,000 young people aged 11 to 24 years old as part of its new research report ‘The Curate Escape’, which is part of the charity’s Be Real Campaign.

YMCA’s Be Real Campaign, is calling on the nation to fight against unrealistic beauty standards by signing up to its Body Image Pledge. The Pledge seeks to reflect reality and diversity, promotes health and wellbeing and champions positive body image.

By signing the Pledge, individuals are making a commitment to limit or stop editing their pictures for social media, hold brands and organisations accountable if they lack diversity or promote unhealthy body image, celebrate their body’s achievements rather than their looks and spread the word about the Pledge to encourage more people to support the movement.

More than a thousand individuals have already signed the pledge including a number of celebrities and influencers such as mental health activist Natasha Devon, Scarred Not Scarred founder Michelle Elman, CSI star Charley Koontz, the world’s first professional model with down syndrome Madeline Stewart and a host of other body confidence activists.

In order to cultivate a more positive social media experience, YMCA’s Be Real Campaign has pulled together a list of #BeRealApproved influencers. By following these accounts young people can be assured that their timelines will be a source of inspiration rather than irritation.

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

“Social media continues to present a multitude of dangers for young people which they have been left to navigate on their own devices. These dangers are not just limited to the content they see, but also the pressure young people face to emulate them.

“Young people and the general population need to be conscious about the content they are posting online. In order to support this we’re calling on people across the nation to sign our Body Image Pledge and to be confident of how they look.

“While our research has shown that young people feel compelled to alter their digital selves, they are still in control of the content on their screens. As such, YMCA’s Be Real Campaign is encouraging young people to curate their own safe spaces online and follow accounts that make them feel good about themselves.”

Other key findings from YMCA’s ‘The Curate Escape’ research include:

  • More than one in ten young people (11%) said the pictures they post on their social media platforms do not accurately reflect what they normally look like in real life
  • More than two fifths of young people (41%) said that people should challenge influencers who promote unhealthy products and behaviours to promote body confidence on their social media channels
  • More than two fifths of young people (42%) said that a requirement for adverts to say when photos have been airbrushed would encourage more people to post content that more accurately reflect what they look like in real life

YMCA’s Be Real Campaign is a national campaign run by YMCA and was formed in 2014 in response to the Reflections on Body Image report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image.

The Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools is part of the Be Real Campaign’s mission to tackle body image anxiety in young people to enable them to grow up into body confident adults. Schools can download a free copy of the toolkit at www.berealcampaign.co.uk/schools/


YMCA Bournemouth takes over management of Queen’s Park Children’s Centre and Townsend Children’s Centre

On 1 April 2019, we took over the management of two local Sure Start children’s centres, Queen’s Park (pictured) and Townsend, on behalf of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. The centres were previously managed by national charity Barnardo’s whose contract drew to a close this year.

We have successfully managed a third Bournemouth Sure Start centre, Pokesdown and Southbourne Children’s Centre, for the last 12 years and we also run both Teddy’s Pre-School in Pokesdown and a Dorset-wide Child Contact Centre for families experiencing family breakdown. Our local expertise and an established reputation for providing effective children’s services was central to its appointment.

Our Head of Family & Relationship Services, Jackie Huggett, said:

“We were delighted to be selected to manage the Queen’s Park and Townsend Children’s Centres and would like to take this opportunity to thank Barnardo’s, existing staff and local families for their past support of these vital community services.

“The core purpose’ of Children’s Centres is to work in partnership in order to improve outcomes for young children and their families. The focus on providing support and guidance enables families to lead fulfilling lives. This has been key to our success at Pokesdown & Southbourne Children’s Centre and we look forward to applying the same approach to the others.”

We are committed to making the transition as seamless as possible and very few staff changes are expected, with the existing team already having transferred to YMCA Bournemouth and taken part in a full induction programme.

Dorothy, who has worked at Queen’s Park Children’s Centre for just over 7 years, said: “Change is always a bit unnerving, but YMCA Bournemouth have been genuinely warm and welcoming. It is great to be working for an organisation with such a good reputation and positive attitude, who are keen to develop and improve the services we provide.”

Initial timetables are now in place but the charity plans to expand and energise the range of sessions available at both centres over the coming months. Local families will be able to keep up-to-date by visiting the centre Facebook pages at @QueensParkChildrensCentre and @TownsendChildren’sCentre.

If families have any questions about the new services they should email YMCA Bournemouth’s Head of Family & Relationship Services, Jackie Huggett, at Jackie.Huggett@ymcabournemouth.org.uk



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