December 29, 2021 6.50 am

Reflections 2021: Caroline Killeavy – The warmest of welcomes at YMCA Lincolnshire

An expanded range of services on offer

By YMCA Lincolnshire Chief Executive

Bestselling author Neil Gaiman once wrote: “Off to bed. If squirrels take over in the night, I, for one, welcome our new bushy-tailed scampering overlords, and I know where the nuts are.”

These words made me smile, as this year has felt a little like this at YMCA Lincolnshire. ‘We Welcome’ is one of our core values, it’s a sentiment that’s at the heart of our decision making. To ensure a perfect welcome you need creativity, flexibility and an ability to put the needs of your guests first.

2021 presented plenty of unexpected challenges for most us but the team at YMCA Lincolnshire, and the generous people who supported our charity, have always ‘found the nuts’. We’ve been able to offer an exceptional welcome to everyone who needed it.

For those falling through the cracks….

YMCA Lincolnshire expanded its range of services last year to catch and support those who had fallen through cracks or who were in danger of becoming forgotten; the young, the vulnerable, the isolated, and those without places to stay or people to help.

We’ve worked with mire than 1,000 young people through our expanding range of young clubs. We care for more than 200 babies and children in our three nurseries. We’ve supported more than 30 young people who struggled to return to school after lockdown, and helped them rebuild their confidence.

For those who are lonely or isolated…

Bringing people together has been an important part of our work. We’ve established 22 Good Neighbour Schemes (with another eight in the pipeline), and organised friendship groups.

This year we’ve supported more than 5,000 vulnerable, isolated older people across Lincolnshire through the National Lottery Community Fund sponsored Ted Ageing Better programme.

Our Age Friendly Business support team helps businesses reshape their approach to become more welcoming to older people as customers and employees.

We have also established a new network across Lincolnshire for those who are Ageing without Children. The network has been hugely successful and is attracting people who have previously felt isolated and alone. If you are interested in any of our services please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

We estimate we’ve served and drunk more than 50,000 cups of tea this year! A personal chat over a cup of tea with someone who is vulnerable or alone is one of the most important parts of our work.

For those in hardship…

Sadly, people across Lincolnshire have experienced unexpected hardship in 2021. With the help from Barclays we were able to support those in hardship, awarding 263 individual grants and delivering 5,000 wellbeing packs to Lincolnshire schools, helping young people who were anxious or struggling to cope.

Our own residents were also hit very hard by the constant challenges of lockdown. Working in partnership with the NHS we’ve ensured that 70 residents had quality time with a qualified mental health nurse.

Our 121 rooms of supported accommodation welcomed more than 200 people, helping them get back on their feet and access support services to rebuild an independent future.

In addition, with the generous help of Lincolnshire people, we’ve offered emergency accommodation to 210 people at the Nomad Centre, providing a clean, safe space to stay.
Together, working in partnership, we found the nuts to ensure a warm welcome for everyone.

So, who are we expecting to welcome in 2022?
We have an exciting year ahead and we’re look forward to 2022 with optimism.

In January YMCA Lincolnshire will welcome 15 new youth workers who will deliver the Airplay youth work programme at five RAF airbases, on behalf of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming this new team and meeting the 700 young people and their families who will use this service.

In November 2021 we opened a new nursery for babies and toddlers at The Showroom in Lincoln. Mini Movers offers flexible childcare that fits around family working commitments to help people get back into work after lockdown employment hiccups. We’re looking forward to growing the number of children we support here.

In March 2022, 100 volunteers will brave the elements for our annual sleep out on the newly refurbished Dean’s Green at Lincoln Cathedral. The sponsored sleepers will raise awareness of the mental health challenges that those without homes face, and will raise funds for a dedicated mental health service. If you would like to help support our homelessness work we are currently taking registrations for our sponsored sleep out in 2022, you can register here.

My message for 2022? I would urge everyone to keep finding the ‘nuts’ for those who may unexpectedly arrive needing help, or those who catch your eye on the street, or those you spot in your community who might need a warm welcome. I’m guessing they won’t have a bushy tail but if you look hard enough you’ll see someone who needs you.

On behalf of my team at YMCA Lincolnshire and the people we support, thank you for your generosity of spirit in 2021. We are blessed to live in a community that cares and we can’t thank you all enough.

Wishing you all a magical Christmas and happy New Year.

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