Caroline Killeavy

YMCA Lincolnshire Chief Executive

Caroline Killeavy joined YMCA Lincolnshire as Chief Executive Officer in January 2018. With over 25 senior leadership experience in the Charitable and Public sectors, Caroline is known for creating innovative social action opportunities: empowering and equipping people to make difference in their own community. Caroline lives in Lincoln with her partner and teenage daughter.


By YMCA Lincolnshire Chief Executive

The dawning of a New Year affords us the opportunity to reflect and consciously sort the events of the year gone by into the challenges faced and successes achieved. We strive to learn lessons and shape our aspirations for the future. So, what have my colleagues and I learnt at YMCA Lincolnshire in 2020?

Well, firstly it’s been a year of generosity and compassion, a year of viewing ‘family’ in its widest possible sense. We’ve been reminded of the strength of a society that values all generations and difference – young people starting out in life, with energy, hope and bravery; older people with experience, wisdom and stories to tell; people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions – we all have an essential part to play in a healthy, caring society. Our appreciation for the talents and contribution of our elders has grown in 2020 and our human instinct to protect each other has been strong.

This year, YMCA Lincolnshire has supported over 5,000 vulnerable and isolated older people across Lincolnshire through its Ted Ageing Better programme, its Covid Telephone Helpline and through our Friendship Group networks. Our Good Neighbour Scheme, which helps community groups develop the skills and tools needed to support each other, has never been so popular.

2020 has also brought a greater appreciation of what the word freedom means. New words have entered our world – lockdown, social distancing, isolation – words that limit our freedom to live our lives the way we would wish. The need to limit movement and freedom has proved more challenging for the already vulnerable in our society. Through our Supported & Emergency Accommodation we have provided shelter to over 300 vulnerable people throughout lockdown. The constant threat of a Covid outbreak has hung over us, driving our intense focus on hygiene and wellbeing.

2020 has been the year of the hidden hero, those colleagues and members of our society who work tirelessly behind the scenes to protect and to care. Our dictionary now has a word for these people – Key Workers – charity people, cleaners, maintenance teams, transport workers, NHS – we have seen and recognised them all in 2020 and we are indebted to them. I would like to pay tribute to the team at YMCA Lincolnshire, and all those in the Housing and Care Sectors for their remarkable resilience.

Finally, we’ve been reminded of the importance and value of using our senses and living life to the fullest;

  • Our nursery children have designed colourful pictures to send to isolated people to brighten their day
  • With your support we’ve provided essential food and care packages to those with nothing
  • We’ve provided comfortable beds, hot showers and a warm welcome to all
  • We’ve provided games to play, songs to sing, companionship… and we have listened
  • Above all we’ve provided safety and reassurance

We’ve looked out for the whole person – Mind, Body and Spirit.

2020 has been the year that we have reminded ourselves how to be human, to use our senses, to provide small moments of comfort and joy to others. The communities of Lincolnshire have responded as one in 2020 – united in our resilience, recognising the value of personal human contact and togetherness, providing an extended family to those who need it.

If 2020 were a brand, what would its tag line be?

“Worship life – all life, every last crawling bit of it! We’re all in this beauty together!” Frank Herbert

On behalf of my team at YMCA Lincolnshire and the people we support, thank you for your generosity of spirit in 2020. I wish you a very happy, free and sensory filled 2021.

Caroline Killeavy joined YMCA Lincolnshire as Chief Executive Officer in January 2018. With over 25 senior leadership experience in the Charitable and Public sectors, Caroline is known for creating innovative social action opportunities: empowering and equipping people to make difference in their own community. Caroline lives in Lincoln with her partner and teenage daughter.

By YMCA Lincolnshire Chief Executive

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.

Caroline Killeavy joined YMCA Lincolnshire as Chief Executive Officer in January 2018. With over 25 senior leadership experience in the Charitable and Public sectors, Caroline is known for creating innovative social action opportunities: empowering and equipping people to make difference in their own community. Caroline lives in Lincoln with her partner and teenage daughter.

By YMCA Lincolnshire Chief Executive

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.

Caroline Killeavy joined YMCA Lincolnshire as Chief Executive Officer in January 2018. With over 25 senior leadership experience in the Charitable and Public sectors, Caroline is known for creating innovative social action opportunities: empowering and equipping people to make difference in their own community. Caroline lives in Lincoln with her partner and teenage daughter.