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annual report



contents chief executive’s message


a word from the chairman


give, act and pray


strategic themes


increasing the positive impact on families and young people in the community


working to combat homelessness in our area


improving the health and wellbeing of those who need it most





chief executive’s message Our annual review shows the impact that YMCA Watford is making in the local communities of Watford, Abbots Langley and St Albans. There is still much to be done in developing and growing this work, but, with your help and support, much more will be achieved. The YMCA has recently been reviewing its strategic objectives and this will result in new initiatives as well as developing existing areas of work. It is my vision that we can strengthen our community engagement and make a real difference to the people that we work with. The YMCA is all about people: • Children, young people and their development, • Homeless people and the local community, • Staff, volunteers and trustees who give generously of their time, gifts and inspiration, • Local churches who provide practical and prayerful support, • Stakeholders, donors and funders who generously provide finance in support of positive activities for the people that the YMCA serves, • Partner organisations who help to add value and scope to our work. The YMCA encourages people to “give, act and pray” for the success of its work as everyone has something to offer whether it be time, inspiration, gifts or support. However you choose to support us, I express my thanks to you for your contribution to the work of the YMCA and the local people that it serves.

Guy Foxell

Chief Executive


a word from the chairman The Board has the responsibility for setting the strategic direction of the charity and ensuring that it is governed effectively, but the face of the YMCA is our staff, working with dedication and flair to meet local need wherever they find it. Lives are changed and enhanced in so many ways through this work and this last year has seen us engage with our highest number of individuals ever. I shall be retiring as Chairman this year, knowing that there is a firm foundation for my successor to build on and wish to thank my skilled and committed Trustee colleagues, as well as the hard-working staff team for making it such a fulfilling experience. The organisation has some ambitious plans for the future and will go on to meet the local need in more and better ways and it has been my pleasure to have sat on the Board for ten years, seeing the positive impact that the organisation has had on countless thousands. I pray that many more will be blessed by the YMCA’s work in the next ten years.

Rev. Barrie Allcott Chairman


give, act and pray Give YMCA Watford is able to extend its work through the generous donations of others. Whether they be oneoff gifts or regular donations, all of them make a real difference. Please contact the YMCA at Charter House with any giving enquiries. Act The YMCA is always looking to recruit new volunteers and helpers who can help support and deliver services to some of the most vulnerable people in the community. A wide range of roles are available. Please note that all adult volunteer roles are subject to Enhanced Disclosure Checks and references may be taken up. For full details on volunteering, please refer to the Human Resources team for further information. Pray The YMCA is a Christian organisation that is firmly rooted in delivering vital support to local people. Your prayerful support is valued and appreciated. Please pray for: • young people to they grow and develop with skills, knowledge and vision; • volunteers who give freely of their time; • staff who give their commitment to guiding and supporting people along their journey to an independent future; • the children and families facing difficult circumstances at home; • our residents who are trying to move on to safe accommodation and a stable lifestyle; • sufficient resources to make a difference.


Sites we operate from:


strategic themes Full-time staff:


Partners worked alongside:


The YMCA has recently developed five strategic priorities in consultation with service users, local decision makers and our workforce and there is an air of expectation about what will be achieved over the next few years. The strategic priorities are: • Increase the positive impact on families and young people in the community, • Work to combat homelessness in our area, • Improve the health and wellbeing of those who need it most, • Develop a clear message for the public, funders and commissioners, • Review and develop our organisation to provide good quality services to all our users. The YMCA has exciting ambitions and is building a real sense of momentum and belief in its ability to change more lives in deeper ways.

We work across a broad spectrum of the community seeking to meet the local need. The following pages give a flavour of our activities and impact during 2012... 7

increasing the positive impact on families and young people in the community Young volunteers make a positive contribution: Young Volunteer Tom, aged 18, lives just a 10 minute walk away from the YMCA Orbital Community Centre and remembers the first time he visited, just over a year ago at a Youth Connexions event hosted by the YMCA. This is when James started to get to know everyone at the Centre and soon after, he started volunteering.

Volunteering has helped Tom build up skills and experience as he didn’t do very well in school so he feels it will help prove that he has the energy and dedication employers are looking for. James hopes that these attributes will help him towards securing an interview with a Travel Agent firm, as he is interested in the industry.

Tom has a keen interest in sport and working with young people so he volunteered for the Summer Programme at the Orbital where he led sports activities such as rounders and football. He also helped children make pizzas and cup cakes as part of the cookery sessions.

Tom is also part of the Y Team youth club who meet every Wednesday at the Orbital, where young people get involved with lots of projects for the community, including preparing food parcels to vulnerable people in the Woodside area of Watford.

Tom feels motivated to volunteer because he wants to do something positive that will help him to achieve his goals.

Hours young people have volunteered in their community:

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The Y Team are planning a new Arts Project, where they will work with a local artist to create four panels; each representing a different group in the centre. The young people in the Y Team will work with the groups and help encourage the children to get involved in painting the panels.

Apprentice Profile NAME: Natalie Baldwin TITLE: Business and Administration Apprentice for Youth team and Human Resources. ROLE: My duties are varied and no two days are ever the same. Some of the highlights so far have been meeting the young people on the Prince’s Trust Team, getting to know the lovely staff members and getting my teeth stuck into some stimulating work after being unemployed for a long while. PLANS: I hope to gain a lot from my year with the YMCA: To achieve my level 2 NVQ and any other training opportunities that may arise. To gain experience of working with a wide range of people doing a variety of different work and to build on my confidence and selfesteem. Once the course has finished I hope to stay on at the YMCA if any suitable positions are available. If not, I will use my new knowledge, training and new-found confidence to secure me a position with another company.




Y Team @ Harwoods adventure playground A group of YMCA young people decided to make some positive headlines by helping tidy their local area. They chose to do a litter pick at Harwoods Adventure Playground in West Watford to make the site more welcoming and safe for local users.

Young people helped:


Y Team is a weekly youth club run by the YMCA to undertake community benefit projects. Seven young people took part in the litter pick and collected five bags of litter from the playground. The event was sponsored by the Council who provided equipment and even issued each young person with a certificate to recognise their achievement. The young people said that the activity helped to break down the barriers between postcodes, as none of them had been to that part of West Watford before. Many of them said that the most important thing for them was that it was going to benefit the younger children that use the playground (ages 5 to 15).

People from the community given training:



Families worked with:


Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: In May, YMCA Charters Nursery held a Diamond Jubilee garden tea party. The staff and children came into nursery in their finest red, white and blue outfits. Each room made bunting and decorations and had red, white and blue themed activities. Amazingly, the Her Majesty The Queen came to visit (looking a little like a member of staff!) and the children sung the National Anthem for her. The children were very excited to meet Her Majesty as they had been learning about her over the past few weeks and perfecting their singing voices. The pre-school children had a treasure hunt in the garden, looking for the Queen’s Crown Jewels to stick back on her crown. The Nursery Chef made cucumber sandwiches and everyone enjoyed Victoria sponge cake and strawberries for pudding. What a great way to celebrate 60 years on the throne!

Family sessions run:



Children’s Centre families go to the seaside One Saturday in August, a coachload of local families who are registered with the YMCA’s Littlebury and Beechfield Children’s Centres set off on their seaside trip to Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. Once the families and staff members got off the coach, everyone headed to the beach. Everyone brought buckets and spades, balls and a change of clothes for their children to play on the sand and in the sea. Best of all, the sunshine was out for the families to enjoy (with sunscreen)! Overall, this trip was very successful as most of the families who attended had never been to the beach and some had not been on a family trip before.

“I liked everything; it was my children’s first seaside trip. The Children’s Centre gave my children a chance to have a wonderful experience” “I feel good coming with the whole family. I will definitely go again to the seaside with my family.” “Very nice, my children loved it. I want to say thank you to the YMCA Children’s Centres.”


Youth – taking part in the Y’z Up programme Prior to the course, Jack was part excluded from school only attending 2 days a week and, by his own admission, he did what he wanted at school. Jack attended the whole of the Y’z Up programme – an employability and personal development programme. He had full attendance and a very good timekeeping record. Jack had a mixed course – there were times where he demonstrated challenging behaviour and found it difficult to concentrate, however he made real progress and worked well on the written work as well as getting involved in activities. Jack’s behaviour and appropriateness did improve throughout the course. On his work experience placement, Jack worked one day with a gym and one day with the maintenance team at the YMCA. During the latter, he received an “excellent” for all competences listed on the reference sheet: the highest score and best feedback of the whole group! He also did very well during the presentation event – speaking eloquently and clearly. In terms of progression, Jack has now secured a place on the multitrade course at Oaklands College and started in September 2012.

Young people entering employment & education:



working to combat homelessness in our area Helping local tenants maintain their tenancies

Hostel beds:


Total nights sleep:


During the early months of 2012, the YMCA’s Housing team pioneered the Warm Homes project to help a number of local people who live in privately rented accommodation which was either in a poor state, lacked adequate heating or the person had difficulty managing their money. This work was made possible with a small grant from Hertfordshire County Council and the dedication of the Housing team. The Housing Officer who led this work undertook visits, provided advice and assistance and co-ordinated with other agencies to find help for the service user. In one case, there was a man who worked night shifts, was paid on the minimum wage and lived in a rented room for £400 per month. His landlord would not repair the radiator and his room was damp, cold and resulted in very poor living conditions. As a “remedy”, the landlord fitted a prepay meter so that any electric heating was charged at an extortionate amount! Through Warm Homes, the YMCA liaised with the tenant and the local Council to rectify the radiators, provide heat and a install correct and fair tariff meter. Some short term financial assistance was also provided by the YMCA to pay for heating and help the resident with his immediate needs. Many local people were helped through Warm Homes and advice and assistance was provided with utility companies, benefit advice, rent, tenancy agreements and life skills such as budgeting.


Homeless people rehomed:

Supported housing in Watford:


For many years, YMCA Watford has been one of the major providers of single homeless accommodation in the heart of Watford. This work led the Housing team to help people from all backgrounds with a wide range of needs and areas for support. In today’s world, life is becoming more complicated and the YMCA has a skilled Housing team that either provides help and assistance or acts as a pathway to specialist support for those that need it. In the course of its work, the YMCA worked with Mark who moved into Charter House following a relationship breakdown. He was unemployed and reliant on others for money. The Housing team helped Mark establish an effective support plan so that his life and tenancy skills were developed and arrangements made to participate in first aid and work based training courses. Mark successfully passed the courses and started work in the construction industry. He is now working on a self employed basis and searching for a new place to live independently.

Food parcel beneficiaries:


Hours of support offered to homeless people:



improving the health and wellbeing of those who need it most Health and Fitness: The YMCA operates affordable fitness centres in Watford, Abbots Langley and St Albans where local residents can join a health club at low and competitive price. During the year, over 215,000 separate fitness sessions were undertaken by YMCA members as they aimed to develop their health and lifestyle. The YMCA is proud of its wide membership range that spans local people wanting to improve their fitness levels right the way through to those aiming for peak condition for sporting competitions.

Community Sports Participants:



Falls prevention scheme: Overall in Hertfordshire, people’s health is better than the national average, but there are a few areas where we fall behind. One of the health issues that affects our local community is an increasing number of hip fractures in over 65s. These are often caused by falls in and about the home. In order to combat this problem, the Health and Fitness Team devised a Falls Prevention scheme which was successful in attracting funding from grant-making body, Awards for All. The scheme involves a series of chair-based exercises to improve core body strength and tone up the muscles that can lose their strength as we get older. More than 150 people attended the courses, with almost 2,000 visits to our sessions and 80% reported an improvement in strength and mobility. The programme has been a great success and shows that the YMCA is always seeking to tackle the real-life problems facing our local communities.

Exercise sessions:


Childhood obesity: Child Obesity levels in our county are above average and the problem is getting worse. To help local children to reduce this risk of difficulties in later life, the YMCA has delivered a Health and Fitness awareness scheme. Sixteen Primary Schools across Dacorum benefitted from the six-week ENERGY programme, which reached almost 250 children. The project had some very positive results: • 98% of pupils improved their understanding of how to live a healthier lifestyle and the importance of regular exercise. • 73% of participants increased their activity levels; on average by 45 minutes per week. • 69% of pupils improved their diet as a result of the project.

Times we have hosted community groups:


A post-programme survey revealed that most common change in children’s diets was an increase in the amount of fruit eaten (30% of pupils increased their fruit intake), followed by reducing the amount of fizzy or sugary drinks being consumed (14% reduced the amount of these products consumed and replaced them with more natural products like water or milk). Although the programme has now come to an end, the YMCA will be on the lookout for further funding that will enable future schemes to be delivered.


finance YMCA Watford is a local Christian charity that provides a wide range of services that includes: housing, youth work, children’s centres and nursery, community activities and health & fitness. The combined turnover is in the region of £5 ½ million per annum.

The funding received for service delivery in 2011/12



20% 52%

20% 4%



Youth Work

Health & Fitness

Children’s Centres & Nursery

Community Centre


Our spending on service delivery in 2011/12

3% 21% 50%

20% 6%


Youth Work

Health & Fitness

Children’s Centres & Nursery

Community Centre



contact Charter House, Charter Place, Watford, Herts, WD17 2RT

Tel: 01923 353600 Web:

Annual Report 2012  

Watford YMCA Annual Report 2012