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

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.

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.

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