Reflections 2017: Caroline Killeavy – Lincolnshire people will help others – it’s tradition!

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It will be a great honour for me to join YMCA Lincolnshire as Chief Executive in January 2018. YMCA Lincolnshire provides a range of essential services to a wide range of Lincolnshire including; training for young people, childcare provision, youth services, tackling health & wellbeing and loneliness. However, it is perhaps best known locally for providing shelter and emergency accommodation to those who have fallen on hard times.

As I embark on my new role I’m very mindful of what’s gone before. My predecessor, Malcolm Barham, retired in 2017. I’m indebted to Malcolm for a strong legacy of community support and a fabulous team of people. I wish him all the best with his well-earned retirement.

Looking further back into Lincoln’s past, Lincoln was a magnet for pilgrims in the Middle Ages visiting the shrine of St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, after his canonisation in 1220. Medieval pilgrims took long and often difficult pilgrimages to holy places, seeking cures for illnesses and to pray together with other pilgrims. St. Hugh was renowned for extending a welcome to everyone, for his care of the ill, poor and destitute.

Eight hundred years later ‘pilgrims’ still come to our city, some to experience the joys of the Lincoln Christmas Market, some to worship, others are seeking help. Some of these people have no place to sleep, no place to call their home – many are Lincolnshire born and bred, whilst others arrive from further afield.

I am in no doubt that homelessness is a modern-day failure. As a society, we fail to provide for the most basic human need – shelter for all. However, it is hugely encouraging that the people of Lincolnshire have a firm track record of caring about homelessness, from the Middle Ages through to the present day. I am very much looking forward to working in my home community to benefit those most in need.

2017 – A busy year for the YMCA

YMCA Lincolnshire and The Nomad Trust, through the generosity of Lincolnshire people, were able to offer emergency accommodation to almost 300 individuals in 2017.

Everyone who came through our doors was provided with a bed and a hot meal when they needed one most.

Our 121 rooms of supported accommodation also continued to help those who need it to get back on their feet, allowing them to access support services to work towards an independent future.

In March this year, 80 people braved the elements for Sleep Easy, our annual sleep out at Lincoln Cathedral. The sponsored sleepers experienced what it’s like to spend a night on the streets, and we are very grateful for the money they raised toward our capital appeal to build a new day centre in the city.

We were honoured to be nominated as one of the beneficiary charities for the Lincoln Knights’ Trail auction and delighted that two thirds of the huge £180,000 raised was donated to the Nomad project. Heartfelt thanks to all.

In November, residents, volunteers, partners and supporters joined us to celebrate The Nomad Trust night shelter’s 20th birthday. It was a poignant day, and we were honoured to be able to share such a milestone with some of those who have supported us over the years.

Almost 450 people successfully completed a variety of training courses with us, courses ranging from Gym Instructing to Health & Safety qualifications.
Over 50 children enrolled at Woodlands Day Care in Lincoln and 69 children at Beginnings Day Care in Gainsborough. Not many people know that the YMCA cares for children from babies to five year olds, preparing them for school and beyond through child-led, play-based learning.

Over 220 children and young people get involved in a range of activities at The Showroom activity centre in Lincoln, including: Parkour classes, our LGBT support group, Little Stars Theatre classes, and inclusive multi-sport club Doing Sport Differently.

Throughout the year the support from local churches, schools, businesses and other community groups has been heart-warming and every penny of this support has been spent wisely on services to help those most in need.

Big Plans!

Looking ahead to 2018 we have ambitious plans to build a new, modern, day centre offering wellbeing and health services along with an upgrade of our overnight shelter facilities.

We need £1.2 million to make this dream a reality. So far, the generosity of the public, businesses and organisations sees our total stand at £410,000. If we include the proceeds from the eventual sale of our Monk’s Road shelter, we will only have £600,000 – we’ll be halfway to our target!

2018 Resolution – Partnership, Partnership, Partnership!

We will listen more to those who use our services and respond to their needs quickly.

We will design more innovative ways for local business and community members to get involved in our work.

We will partner with like-minded charities and statutory agencies, hand in hand, to deliver even better services for those struggling in our community.

I wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable New Year and look forward to working with you.