YMCA Black Country Group: Supporting young people to transform their lives

YMCA Black Country Group provides vital support for thousands of young people every year.

The charity’s flagship premises have been totally redeveloped over the last few years, thanks, in part, to a loan from Charity Bank. YMCA’s Chief Operations Officer, Pauline Tomlinson, and Chief Corporate Officer, Jill Law, tell us more.

Young People Flagship Services

Pauline: “Our focus is on supporting people so their lives can be transformed. We believe everyone should feel that they belong and can contribute to society. We mainly work with young people and offer a wide range of services, from childcare and housing provision to mental health programmes, skills development, health and wellbeing, and support to overcome addiction.”

Jill: “We took out a loan from Charity Bank to part-fund the transformation of our flagship premises in Western Gateway, West Bromwich. The redevelopment of the main building was completed in early 2016 and it’s now a thriving community hub. We now have 96 studio apartments for vulnerable people, a budget fitness and wellbeing centre, meeting spaces for the local community and new businesses, and a café. Thanks to the redevelopment, we’re able to offer increased support to young people to enable them to truly belong, contribute and thrive.

“We explored a number of funding opportunities for the redevelopment. We were mindful of the affordability of the loan but also wanted the ethics of the lender to align with our own. At YMCA, our mission is to develop people in body, mind and spirit – and our Board was very clear that any borrowings needed to ‘fit’ with this. We also needed to take independent advice to ensure we met our obligations under the Charities Act.

“Not only was the Charity Bank loan offer more cost effective than others, it also gave us the opportunity to access additional finance in the future. We took out a further loan in October 2017 to purchase a previously leased property in Walsall, where we provide housing and support for 21 vulnerable young people.

“Right from the outset, Charity Bank has been excellent – the team really understood us. It felt more of a partnership than a client relationship! We’d definitely recommend Charity Bank to other charities and social enterprises.

“With Charity Bank, not only do we benefit from an ethical loan, but we can be reassured that, indirectly, YMCA is supporting other charitable projects across the country through our repayments.”

Pauline: “We want to have a positive impact across the whole of our organisation and are keen to support the wider charity sector when we can. Many of our young service users haven’t had the best start in life and we’re seeing an increasing need for bereavement services, mental health services and support for young carers, so it’s great to see examples of Charity Bank supporting those areas.

“We have a finance, audit and risk committee that makes sure we’re not indirectly supporting causes that don’t align with our values and mission. It’s something we take very seriously.

“It’s really refreshing for a bank to align itself with our philosophy.”

Jill: “And a huge thank you to Charity Bank savers! With their help, we’re now able to support over 100 vulnerable people with their housing needs, as well as supporting the wider community with vital services.”

Ymca Young People Support