YMCA Downslink Group: helping young people to thrive


Chas Walker, CEO of YMCA Downslink Group, explains how its decision to borrow from Charity Bank was influenced by a desire to work with a likeminded organisation with aligned values.

“YMCA Downslink Group is a registered charity working across Sussex and Surrey to provide a variety of services and projects to the local communities. Our focus is helping young people who exist on the margins of society to access opportunities and ultimately feel like they can thrive in adult life. Over the last year, we’ve reached over 16,000 young people through supported housing, learning and employability projects, counselling services, and more.

“We refreshed our business plan at the start of 2016 and knew we needed to increase borrowing to implement our overall investment plan for growth. We also wanted to purchase two freehold buildings that were being leased from YMCA England to allow those local YMCA hubs the chance to think more long term and have the security of owning those assets.

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A range of activities are offered to the young people living in YMCA Downslink accommodation, including the music class 'Scratch Pad'

“The best arrangement for us was to have one single loan rather than add to existing ones. During the process, we thought a lot about our mission and ultimately felt that working with a likeminded organisation with aligned values was important to us. Charity Bank not only offered competitive rates but also the knowledge that any interest we paid to them would go towards a wider social mission. It was an easy decision for our board to make.

“Charity Bank was very responsive. Mainstream banks aren’t always familiar with charity business models whereas the team at Charity Bank were knowledgeable, understanding and supportive of our plans. Our regional manager, Carolyn Sims, has been great to work with and is still actively involved in supporting our progress. We’re already in discussion about an additional loan to enable us to help more children, young people and families in the future.”

“Charity Bank not only offered competitive rates but also the knowledge that any interest we paid to them would go towards a wider social mission. It was an easy decision for our board to make.”

Chas Walker, CEO of YMCA Downslink Group
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