Latest News

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



2019 BIG Sleep Easy launched at Tiien Restaurant as we urge businesses to get involved, make a difference… and not to be afraid to shout about it!

Matthew Barrow and colleagues from Lester Aldridge. Photos by Alvaro Gonzalo

On Friday 22 March, we held an evening function at Tiien Restaurant in Bournemouth to launch our annual sponsored ‘rough sleeping’ event: the Big Sleep Easy.

This year’s event, which will involve teams from local organisations braving the cold to sleep outside for a night to raise funds and awareness of homelessness, will take place at Bournemouth Sports Club (Chapel Gate) on Saturday 16 November.

At the launch event, around 40 representatives of local businesses and organisations who had expressed an interest in taking part in this year’s Big Sleep Easy gathered at the popular Thai restaurant to enjoy a buffet sponsored by Lester Aldridge solicitors. The company had been enthusiastic participants at last year’s event and emerged as its most successful fundraisers.

Matthew Barrow, Managing Partner at Lester Aldridge, said:

“We all found it incredibly tough. It gave us a tiny glimpse of how hard it must be as a way of life. Homelessness is something that could happen to anyone and we are happy we are able to support such a worthwhile and effective project. If you are considering taking part this year, we’d really encourage you to do so – we’ll certainly be there!”

Attendees at the launch watched a video of the 2018 Big Sleep Easy which showed teams building cardboard shelters – some practical and others, such as one with vape smoke emerging from its chimney, distinctly curious – before wrapping up warm and settling down for the night. It conveyed the overwhelming positivity and camaraderie of an event that saw 98 participants raise a record-breaking £25,000.

Speakers on Friday included individuals who had themselves experienced homelessness and the one-to-one support services provided by YMCA Bournemouth. The audience sat quietly as they heard about the difference the charity had made to their lives.

Our Communications Officer, Richard Chumbley, later referred to those stories when he talked about the reasons for businessess to get involved. “We write about the benefits, such as team-building, being seen to support the local community and the fun of the night itself, but underneath it all we know that you get involved because of people like the gentleman you’ve just heard from, the people we help.”

Richard also emphasised the value of publicity: “This is not an occasion for businesses to hide their light under a bushel,” he said. “You can be rightly proud of being involved and it serves as an example to other organisations: what a world it would be if all businesses did something for the local community? This event is about spreading awareness as much as it about fundraising, and you can help us do that.”

Organisations represented at the event included A Storage, Hybrid Sales & Lettings, Konsileo, Head & Wheble,#Hackforhomelessness, Newnham & Jordan, Anytech Solutions, Calvary Pentecostal Church, Store & Secure, Motley, Make Studio, Mags 4 Dorset, Dorset Chamber of Commerce, Ouch Training, Natural Skin by Lynne, Strategic Solutions, Tempus Investors, and Stour Valley and Poole Partnership.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Big Sleep Easy, please visit http://ymcabournemouth.org.uk/event/the-big-sleep-easy-2019/ or contact Sheena Dayman at fundraising@ymcabournemouth.org.uk or 07824 333505.


The Big Sleep Easy is back! Could you sleep rough so others don’t have to?

On the night of Saturday 16 November 2019, almost 200 staff, managers and directors from businesses and organisations across Dorset are expected to brave the cold and take part in the YMCA Bournemouth Big Sleep Easy to raise awareness of homelessness and the funds to combat it.

This year’s event at Bournemouth Sports Club (Chapel Gate) follows the record-breaking launch of this event at the same venue in November 2018 when companies including Lester Aldridge Solicitors, AnyTech Solutions, Corbin & Co, Newnham & Jordan and PKF Frances Clarke raised an incredible £25,000 on our behalf.

This November, fundraisers will wrap up warm, build shelters out of cardboard boxes, take part in fun challenges and then sleep outside for a night in an enclosed area, warmed only by their sleeping bag, hot drinks and the supportive messages of those who’ve sponsored them.

We are inviting local businesses, groups and organisations to put their own teams forward for the event, the purpose of which is to raise awareness of local homelessness and essential funds to support our work. Individual fundraisers are also welcome but all participants must register in advance.

A big ‘thank you’ to those individuals and organisations who have already said they’ll be supporting the event this autumn:

A Storage
Corbin & Co
Make Studio
Lester Aldridge
WAY Group
Newnham and Jordan Solicitors
Hybrid Sales & Lettings
Bluestone College
Ian Girling, CEO, DCCI

YMCA Bournemouth Fundraising Manager, Martin Stockley, said: “Last year’s event was amazing: the enthusiasm shown by the organisations was breathtaking and the experience will certainly have changed people’s perceptions.

“With so many new businesses wanting to get involved and last year’s participants wanting to do it again because they valued both the team-building and community engagement involved and the ability to make a difference – we knew we had to do it again.”

Managing Partner of Lester Aldridge solicitors, Matthew Barrow, who participated in the 2018 event and are also kindly sponsoring the BIG Sleep Easy launch in March, said:

“A team of people from Lester Aldridge took part in the Big Sleep Easy in November – we all found it incredibly tough and it gave us a tiny glimpse of how hard it must be as a way of life. We are happy we are able to support such a worthwhile and effective project.”

If you or you and your team might like to join us for a night under the stars this autumn and make a real difference to people’s lives, please get in touch with Sheena Dayman on 07824 333505 or sheena.dayman@ymcabournemouth.org.uk.


New Training Courses Introduced


We believe that everyone should be able to fulfil their potential. One way in which we work towards this is through delivering a range of cost-effective training courses to businesses, charities and members of the public.

We have been offering Health and Safety, First Aid at Work and Fire Marshal courses for over 10 years. We have now begun to introduce a range of additional courses.

Our new courses are as follows:

  • Level 2 Award In The Principles Of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH)
  • Level 2 Award in The Principles of Workplace Risk Assessment
  • Level 2 Award in Manual Handling Loads at Work

CoSHH covers several areas of learning, such as understanding laws and regulations, risk assessments and necessary precautions and procedures.

The Principles of Workplace Risk Assessment covers topics including gaining an understanding of the principles of risk assessments and how they contribute to a safer working environment.

Manual Handling Loads at Work helps people to understand how risk assessments are important to improving health and safety. It also helps people to understand the requirements and principles of manual handling.

If you’re interested in learning more about the training courses we offer, you’ll find further information at http://ymcabournemouth.org.uk/training-and-education/ or please contact the training coordinator Heather Chandler at heather.chandler@ymcabournemouth.org.uk or call 01202 290451 Ext: 4005.


Last chance to vote for the Bournemouth’s Childcare or Children’s Centre Worker of the Year

Each year, the very best in childcare and children’s centre service provision is celebrated at the Early Years Sector Awards. The event is managed by Bournemouth Borough Council and the closing date for this year’s nominations is Friday 1 February 2019, with the winners announced at an awards night on 13 March.

The event highlights the people in the Bournemouth area who, every day, strive to provide outstanding care and education and the best possible outcomes for local children and their families. To nominate an individual, all people need to do is complete a simple form at www.bournemouth.gov.uk.

The award categories are Childminder of the Year; Children’s Centre Volunteer of the Year; Children’s Centre Worker of the Year; Day Nursery Worker of the Year; Pre-School Worker of the Year; and Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCo) of the Year.

Staff and volunteers at YMCA Bournemouth are amongst those in contention. In fact it was only two years ago that we won twice, with Juliet Gentry recognised as Bournemouth Children’s Centre Worker of the Year and Louise Everett presented with the SENCo of the Year award for her work at Teddy’s Pre-School.

We have been providing family support and children’s services for over 30 years. Today, amongst other projects, we manage the Pokesdown and Southbourne Children’s Centre on behalf of the local authority; run Teddy’s Pre-School in Pokesdown; and also operate a Child Contact Centre, which helps children affected by family breakdown.

Last year, we supported nearly 1000 families across Dorset.

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

“We are enormously proud of the hard work our teams put into supporting children and families. As an organisation, we believe that every family should have the support they need to develop and lead more fulfilling lives, but it is the dedication and commitment of individual staff and volunteers that can turn that dream into a reality.

“These awards are a great opportunity for parents and families to thank particular individuals who’ve made a very real difference to the lives of their children.”

For further information or to nominate a childcarer or children’s centre worker, please visit www.bournemouth.gov.uk/childreneducation/childcare/childcareawards.

For details of the services and activities provided by YMCA Bournemouth, please email jackie.huggett@ymcabournemouth.org.uk


8-year-old independently decides to run around Winton Recreation Ground to raise money for the homeless after hearing a talk at school

As part of our marking of World Homeless Day late last year, we presented talks at local schools and gave pupils activity books on the subject of homelessness. The pupils then proceeded to raise funds for the charity by holding ‘Den Days’ and other activities.

After hearing our talk, 8-year-old Oliver of St Luke’s CofE Primary School decided he wanted to raise even more funds for the charity: “I sometimes run with my dad so I thought I could do one for the YMCA. I’d heard about how they help the homeless. I didn’t want any other people to be homeless.”

After creating a fundraising poster, he ran a number of times around Winton Recreation ground and raised £21 for the charity. His mother reported how he was reluctant to finish, apparently saying: “I won’t stop. This is for a good thing, Mummy!”

Later, Oliver visited our hostel in Westover Road to donate his funds. One of the former residents, former rough sleeper Steve Beale, thanked him for his efforts: “You’ve done real good, and we’re really grateful for the help,” he said to Oliver and shook his hand.

More recently, we presented Oliver with a photo of his visit and a certificate of thanks. “Oliver’s done a wonderful thing,” said our new Chief Executive Officer, Gareth Sherwood. “We are hugely grateful to all the local schools and pupils who raise money for us, and for one of those pupils to be inspired to raise even more for our work is truly heart-warming.”

The local schools involved in fundraising for World Homeless Day were St Luke’s, Bishop Aldhelm’s, Moordown St John’s, King’s Park Academy, Queen’s Park Academy, Muscliffe, Bournemouth Collegiate, St James’s Academy and Manorside Academy. Together they raised around £4000 to support YMCA Bournemouth’s work.

As the weather worsens, if you are concerned about a rough sleeper please contact the council rough sleeper team at b&pstreetoutreach@mungos.org or visit www.streetsupport.net/bournemouth for further information.


YMCA News Update 2018

We hope you enjoy our latest update. This is aimed primarily at our church supporters and their congregations but it provides a useful overview of our work and key details of our latest news.

In new year we will be producing an entirely new publication with full details of our work, projects and fundraising opportunities, along with stories about those we’ve helped and the difference that supporters of our work have made.

If you’d like to download this publication, please click here. If you have questions, please email richard.chumbley@ymcabournemouth.org.uk


Not everyone expects to receive a present this Christmas. YMCA Bournemouth’s Prezzies for Rezzies campaign invites local people to donate a gift to its supported housing residents

Christmas is a challenging time for residents of YMCA Bournemouth’s supported housing. Having previously slept rough and now in the process of fighting hard to stay off the streets and move forward with their lives, many have no social connections, most will not be invited home for Christmas, while for others ‘home’ is a stark reminder of a difficult past.

The ‘Prezzies for Rezzies’ campaign invites local people to donate a new or nearly new Christmas present to people who otherwise might receive none at all.

“You cannot imagine the difference it makes to our residents for them to feel that they are remembered at Christmas: that someone cares enough to send them a gift,” says Kathie Pearce, the charity’s Head of Housing. “The road to recovery and a positive long-term future is a challenging one: a little kindness can do a lot to help them get there.”

YMCA Bournemouth suggests the following: socks, sweets, stationery, art materials, calendars, diaries, colouring pencils, paints, colouring books for adults, toiletries, gift sets, hair accessories, food (no alcohol), DVDs, games and puzzles. They ask that these items remain unwrapped as the charity selects gifts appropriate for each resident.

There are three collection points for donations:

  • YMCA Bournemouth, Delta House, Westover Road, Bournemouth BH1 2BS;
  • The Junction Sports and Leisure Centre, Station Approach, Broadstone BH18 8AX;
  • Pokesdown and Southbourne Children’s Centre, 108 Stourvale Road, Southbourne BH6 5JB.

Could you bring a smile to a former rough sleeper’s face this Christmas?

For further information please contact Sarah Watson on 01202 290451 or email enquiries@ymcabournemouth.org.uk



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