3rd March 2015
Approximately 12 months ago the Trustees of the YMCA SW Region Trust Fund agreed to transfer the remaining funds from Honiton YMCA to Exeter YMCA to assist us in developing new YMCA work in East Devon. They asked me to provide an update after 12 months, which is the purpose of this email.
Over the past 12 months, we have continued to expend significant energy and time to developing YMCA work in East Devon. Specifically:
We now run two youth groups, in the villages of Broadclyst and Rockbeare. The County Council Devon Youth Service has all but ceased activity in the County, and the Parish Councils in these two rural communities asked us to deliver weekly youth provision, to which they have contributed most but not all the revenue funding. Typically 20 children and young people, predominantly from disadvantaged families, attend each week in each village, and our work extends far beyond simply providing a youth club as the level of safeguarding and other welfare issues our team addresses are surprisingly high. In Rockbeare, a handful of children attended the Soul Survivor festival last summer with two of our youth workers, and following this a group of around 10 young people now meet with YMCA volunteers weekly to explore the Christian faith prior to the open youth group.
We are also assisting East Devon District Council to deliver youth provision in the Littleham area of Exmouth. Littleham is an area of significant social deprivation with primarily social housing. The District Council assists with our costs, but as with (1) above, we are using some of the former Honiton monies to “top up” the shortfall.
We were asked by DCC to consider taking over the now-redundant Sidmouth Youth Centre, and I spend significant amounts of time (= £) meeting council officials and members, as well as young people, to develop a viable plan for the Centre. Unfortunately DCC ultimately decided to pass the Centre onto Sidmouth Town Council, but the time spent building relationships and trust with officers and members will not be wasted. We also considered bidding for the Ottery St Mary, Axminster and Exmouth youth centres, but decided that the state of these buildings meant they were not financially viable.
Finally we have continued to seek to develop a new YMCA premises in Exmouth throughout the year, meeting with local church and community leaders as well as Council officers to try to identify a suitable site. Our aim is to provide a combination of housing for young people and community facilities. We are particularly interested in Littleham (see 2 above) given the high level of social need, and the District Council are very supportive of our efforts. We have now identified a potential site, and will shortly be commissioning a firm of architects to carry out some feasibility work.
None of this would have been possible without being able to draw on the monies of the former Exmouth and Honiton YMCAs. We have only used very modest sums, retaining the vast majority of these funds to “pump prime” development of a new YMCA in Exmouth once we have secured an appropriate site. I will keep you informed as these plans develop. In the meantime, the revenue spending on work such as the youth provision in Rockbeare and Broadclyst is proving extremely valuable to develop confidence in the YMCA in the local community, to test out new ways of working, and to build bridges with County, District and Town councillors and officers whose support will be essential as we develop new YMCA premises in the District.
Please pass on our thanks to the Trustees for their prayerful and financial support.
T 01392 410530
YMCA Exeter, 39-41 St David’s Hill, Exeter EX4 4DA