2019 has been a whirlwind year for YMCA Lincolnshire – it definitely feels like we have squeezed every ounce of potential from every second! Living life to its fullest, believing in the impossible and focusing on potential – these are the backbones of the YMCA Lincolnshire ethos and this approach has certainly paid off this year.
We provide a range of services including; housing, training, childcare, support for young people and programmes to tackle rural isolation, loneliness and poor health. We also provide emergency accommodation to those who have fallen on hard times through Nomad.
This year we celebrated our 150th year and we came together to mark the occasion. Bringing people together has been a key theme as our work in the community has grown; we’ve established good neighbour schemes, organised support groups and served over 10,000 community meals this year, bringing a wide range of people together for support and friendship.
In March, 90 generous volunteers braved the elements for our annual sleep out at Lincoln Cathedral. We are grateful for the funds raised toward our capital appeal to build a new day centre in the city. We are currently taking registrations for our sleep out in 2020, you can register here.
Indeed, throughout 2019 the public have supported our work with donations of food, time and essential supplies. Many have found innovative ways to raise funds. We are blessed to live in a community that cares and we can’t thank you all enough.
In April, we received the fantastic news that we had secured a significant grant from Homes England to build new emergency accommodation for those rough sleeping in Lincoln. Working with partners we mobilised an expert team and we officially opened the new Nomad Centre in Lincoln in November. Offering 22 en-suite bedrooms and a day centre, the new facility has restored dignity, privacy and hope to the lives of those who need it most.
In addition to improving our emergency accommodation we have also grown our supported housing portfolio this year, now offering 150 homes to those who need a little extra support to live independently or those who have fallen on hard times. We housed nearly 300 people in our supported accommodation and 286 people in our emergency service in 2019.
Another huge step forward was welcoming the team from local charity Community Lincs into the YMCA family. We are thrilled to have a permanent presence in Sleaford now and I’m delighted to be associated with the positive impact their team is having to isolated and ageing communities. This merger will ensure greater reach, ensuring that we are able to tackle the issues that matter most in urban and rural communities.
Alongside the achievements of the year there have also been moments of challenge and sadness, as a number of our residents, colleagues or their loved ones have suffered tragic loss, significant life challenge or trauma. Through friendship and prayer we have supported each other through these difficult times.
Sometimes working in the voluntary sector can be challenging: funds and resources are tight and the need is so great. I’d like to pay tribute to my team of committed trustees, employees and volunteers who have a relentless passion to do the best for others, despite the blows of life.
I’d also like to recognise the work of the other 2,000 charities in Lincolnshire.
On a personal note I should mention that I was overwhelmed by the support and encouragement extended to me by colleagues and partners when I was awarded the Institute of Director East Midlands Award for Third Sector 2019. I have made a New Year resolution to do offer the same level of support to fellow Lincolnshire leaders in 2020.
So, what’s next? Young people today are growing up in a society where knife crime, mental health difficulties and loneliness are at an all-time high. Over the past year we provided activities, services and support to over 8,500 children and young people but we can do so much more. In 2020 we are aiming to extend our youth services across Lincolnshire: ensuring access to youth club provision, support groups, arts, drama, music and wellbeing opportunities.
We will continue to support the increasing community of families who home school their children, and aim to support schools with specialist programmes to engage those pupils who find school a challenge.
We have an exciting year ahead and we look forward to 2020 with optimism and positivity. It’s our job to help support people to belong, contribute and thrive. 2019 has shown us what’s possible with a little grit, determination and partnership. We can’t wait to get started!
I wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable New Year.