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A visit to the MK Leaders Forum

Last week, Chloe (Residents Activities Manager) and Resident Corina attended the Citizens MK Leaders Forum. The Leaders Forum is a chance for different organisations to share their concerns within the Milton Keynes area and discuss issues they would like to change.

Corina, who is also involved with the setup of MK Matters (a group of young people from the YMCA pioneering to help and assist homeless and vulnerable people in the Milton Keynes area) had this to say about it.

On Tuesday 22nd November Chloe and I went to the Citizens MK Leaders Forum. This was held at MK Academy. We entered the large building and was greeted by a professional lady who escorted us into the lift. I walked into the large room with many friendly faces. Promptly we were ushered into our seats and began to introduced ourselves. It was nice to see so many organisations come together with intentions to make a change.

There was 20 groups and all with important issues to raise. Many schools attended and had their students representing their views. They had all done a lot of homework! They identified their main concern was Redways, with these being unlit at night and often had litter on them. Redways are an important tool to travel to school.

The other member institutions all raised their concerns and things they would like to change. Some of these included: hate crime, burial of Muslim bodies, homelessness, mental health, parking, affordable housing, community relations, economical travel and reliability of public transport.

Once all of the issues were raised we had to prioritise the urgent and important issues, using different coloured post it notes. The atmosphere in the room was powerful. Once the votes were put on the table we were asked to go and stand with our main concern. We formed a group and had a discussion, nominated chair people and then were asked back to our seats. The facilitator then put the main six issues up on the whiteboard and informed us of the next step.  The six main issues are: air pollution, hate crime, homelessness and housing, mental health, one stop cultural centre and Redways.

The training in the beginning of December will be held for the chairs and I have been invited to attend regarding MK Matters, a group run by residents at the YMCA who are looking to make a change. After the training for the chairs all of the groups plan to create an action plan and present this on the 7th February 2017 at the Delegates Assembly for people to vote for the main campaigns.

When 8pm came the students had to leave to go home but the rest of us were asked if we wanted to stay for the evaluation. I felt that this was quite a good end to a fantastic inspirational evening and lots of people shared positive feelings.

As it came to an end I said thank you to the facilitators and made my way home. I had such a good feeling as I went to bed that night knowing that people actually care and are trying to do something, and that I am going to be a part of it.

YMCA Milton Keynes are proud to be able to attend discussions and local focus groups with young people such as Corina who show passion, interest, respect and desire to make a real difference.

Homelessness and Housing along with mental health were amongst those listed as priority issues, do you agree? Feel free to comment below or send us a message with any thoughts you may have.


Youth Matters Awards 2016 inspires YMCA Milton Keynes

“I’ve always wanted to help people and until now I never knew what or how to do it. Now I know I want to make a difference to peoples’ lives and think being here at Milton Keynes YMCA, I can do that.”

On Friday November 4th 2016, staff and four of the residents at Milton Keynes YMCA attended the Youth Matters Awards 2016. The Youth Matters Awards is the YMCA’s National Youth Awards scheme for young people, designed to highlight the achievements of YMCA’s inspiring your people, staff, volunteers and services.

It was inspiring to say the least and the four young people who came along with us have returned with big ideas, heart felt sentiments and oodles of enthusiasm.

Our trip to the Youth Matters Awards 2016

We all met at Milton Keynes YMCA suited and booted around midday and made our way to Central Milton Keynes Train Station. Armed with our train tickets and a coffee or hot chocolate in hand we boarded the London Midland Train and departed for London Euston. On the train journey you could feel the buzz of anxiety and excitement at not knowing what to expect amongst the group. Spirits were high and even other passengers on board were joining in with our conversation. We arrived into London Euston and fought our way through the crowds to the underground and boarded a tube train to Charing Cross.

Raining and cold outside we hurried to our destination; a landmark Victorian building just steps away from Nelsons Column – ‘The Grand’ on Northumberland Avenue.

From L-R Carrie, Laura, Daniel, T, Darryl, Chloe and Jenni all sat at the table waiting for the event to begin.

We all looked up at it, mouths slightly open in awe and then entered.

The awards were preceded by a drinks reception, an elegant and sophisticated affair! Everyone was enjoying themselves and talking excitedly about the evening ahead. We were seated at a round dining table and served with a two course meal which was washed down with water or a cheeky glass of wine. Waiters and waitresses tended to our needs and were friendly and polite.

The lights dimmed and on stepped June Sarpong M.B.E, to the stage to present and kick off the awards. Over the next couple of hours, what we heard and witnessed was nothing short of amazing, heart-warming, emotional and inspiring. We watched performances from young people exhibiting their skills of poetry, song and dance. We heard stories of all of the amazing young people around the country who have made a real difference to their own lives as well as their communities. The full stories of each of the winners can be found at http://www.ymca.org.uk/about/awards

Once the awards were over we left the venue full of ideas and excitement for what could be brought to the Milton Keynes YMCA with a bit of enthusiasm, hard work and determination. Travelling back to Milton Keynes there was constant chatter amongst our young residents who we took and they came up with the idea to put a group together who would be able to help young people in need and at risk of homelessness in the Milton Keynes area. Thus was born, MK Matters.

Spearheading the group are Laura Gaskell, 23; Corina Bond, 26; Daniel Harris, 19 and Darryl Jones, 23.

After the event, Darryl when asked about the awards had this to say about it, “the awards show that the people getting the awards are ordinary people and that we could do that too!”

Corina who is a circus performer and looking to introduce teaching circus skills to residents said “I thought that to see so many people doing something that matters when some of them had come from a low place in life and risen above it was inspiring. The support available and being given to young people around the country from their local YMCAs made me realise and appreciate the help I’ve had and realise how lucky I am.”

Each of our young people were encouraged by the awards and it gave them time to reflect upon their own experiences too, Laura said “I feel extremely inspired by the awards and am appreciative of what the YMCA has done for me.”

Daniel was particularly touched by one story of a young lady with Cerebral Palsy who is deaf and won ‘Young achiever of the year award’ for her brave and exceptional attitude to life despite the challenges she constantly faces. Daniel said “the things other YMCAs do is inspiring and has given us the motivation to do what we’re doing now.”

MK Matters is a group set up but these four amazing young people who are eager to help the community around them, impart their knowledge on homelessness matters and supply a support network for their peers and help people get onto the right path in life.

In the pipeline at the moment is a plan to run a regular coffee morning with their first event due in December and based around a ‘Christmas Jumper’ Coffee morning where local businesses will be invited to join us for a free coffee as long as they wear their Christmas Jumpers!!


Carrie Counts Calories….and inspires others

It was only a few years ago that Carrie, now a resident of the YMCA MK, was homeless and living on the streets in Leighton Buzzard. A single mum of twins at 18 and the difficulties she faced seriously affected her self-esteem…. and her diet and well-being suffered as a result.
After having a heartfelt conversation with her parents and weighing in heavier than her dad!…she made a life changing decision to take control of her situation and embarked on a new healthy eating regime, determined to not only lose weight but to gain a fresh and healthier attitude to life.

Little did she know that her new found healthy eating plan would be such an inspiration to other people and residents at the YMCA. Carrie not only began to count calories but was also able to demonstrate that it was possible to maintain a healthy eating plan of fresh ingredients while on a low budget. Her biggest challenge was keeping the momentum and consistency on her own and in order to keep on track Carrie records her daily food intake and statistics in a daily journal. Her impressive results in such a short period of time speak for themselves:

Carrie in Aldi with the Fresh Fruit and Veg she says has helped improve her energy levels and torch the body fat.

                                     13/8/16         7/11/16
Weight:                   17 st 11 lbs        15 st
BMI:                        44.9                 38.7
Body Fat %:             75.3                 42.3
Water Content:         18.2                 42.1


Impressive results indeed but more impressive is that her energy levels are significantly higher, her confidence is far greater and she is now inspiring others to budget and include fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Her zest for life has now spurred her on to set new goals and she will continue to monitor herself through her planning and journal.

Carrie will be writing a monthly Food Blog to lead and inspire – so watch this space.
Carrie has demonstrated that once you make your mind up to make a positive change….. you can achieve anything and inspire others to do the same.


Welcome to the new YMCA blog!!

For those of you who don’t know much about who we are or what we do, I thought I’d address this in our first post!


So… First things first… Who are we!??

The YMCA was founded in 1844 by Sir George Williams. It is the largest and the oldest Youth Charity in the world and currently helps approximately 58 million people across 119 countries. Across England and Wales there are 133 local YMCAs who work independently to support young people to belong, contribute and thrive in their communities.

At Milton Keynes YMCA, we create a sense of belonging and believe in peoples’ potential, even when they don’t believe in themselves.

A lot of the core values we hold at the YMCA are rooted in Christianity. Whilst many people who work or volunteer for the YMCA share a strong Christian faith, our ethos also warmly welcomes people of all faiths (or no faith) to participate in YMCA activities, to volunteer for the YMCA, or to seek employment with the YMCA.

What do we do?

At Milton Keynes YMCA we offer a range of accommodation and support services for young adults aged between 18-35. We currently have a 3 tiered process available to anyone within these ages who are experiencing homelessness.

We provide our residents with activities to help progress them spiritually, mentally and physically such as cooking classes, free gym membership and gardening. We also provide a resident incentive scheme within which there are  activities targeted toward helping the residents to develop independent living skills, well-being and employability.

All residents have a dedicated key worker who will work with them to help them reach their individualised goals and full potential.


Exciting things are happening here at Milton Keynes YMCA!

Here are a few snippets of news for you to give you a taste of whats to come!…

  • Most of you will already have heard this – but those that haven’t… The planning permission for the redevelopment of our current premises for a purpose built YMCA in early 2018 has been submitted!! This is fantastic news and is something we’ve been eagerly awaiting! You can read more about this on our website under the section ‘New Campus’.
  • Some of our residents recently attended the Youth Matters Awards 2016 (YMCA’s national youth awards scheme for young people) and have been so inspired from some of the stories they heard from other YMCA’s around the country they are now currently busy making plans to help those in need around the Milton Keynes area. Check out one of our next blog pieces which will be entirely focused on this topic.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the YMCA then contact us today!


New CEO at the helm

Congratulations Simon Green – New CEO

We are delighted to announce that our current Director of Operations, Simon Green, has been appointed as CEO.  Simon said: “My best friend and sister were both residents here when I was young and I know what a fabulous lifeline this place can be for young people. We have a great team here and we will continue to work together to achieve the best we can for the young adults that we support, many of whom have experienced homelessness“.

On the future Simon is looking forward to driving MK YMCA forward: “These are challenging times for supported housing organisations but I have a strong vision for the future of this YMCA, we remain ambitious and I am incredibly excited and honoured to be able to lead the organisation at such a crucial period in our history.  I am absolutely delighted that the Board of Trustees has shown such faith in me“.

And on outgoing CEO Simon added: “Ian has done a fantastic job here, not least in bringing the redevelopment of our site to the point of planning.  We all wish Ian all the very best in his new role”.