Reading, Padworth, Caversham

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About us

About the YMCA

The YMCA is the largest and the oldest charity working with young people in the world. YMCA Reading started in 1847, and is the second oldest YMCA in the world.  Across England there are 114 YMCAs. Each one is a thriving and active community. A community that is transforming lives.

We focus on young people and help them play an active and fulfilling role within their communities. We call this a youth minded community approach.

We are proud of our Christian heritage and ethos. We are an inclusive Christian movement transforming communities. We provide a wide array of community based activities and services to help meet local needs wherever we are based.

About YMCA Reading

Like every other YMCA in England, we put young people at the heart of everything we do.  We believe we can make a difference to young people by helping them to get involved in an active local community.

We believe that all young people deserve to have a safe place to live and the opportunity to reach their full potential.  We also aim to support the wider community and bring together different groups within the community to support each other.

We are an independent charitable organisation that provides services tailored to the needs of our local community.

How do you know that your organisation is needed?

Our work closely aligns with the Reading Sustainable Community Strategy.  Key priorities from the strategy that our work supports include:

  • Reducing inequality and breaking the cycle of poverty and its link with poorer health and crime
  • Build peer support networks in the community
  • Embracing diversity and encouraging and enabling wider cross-culture and community contact to embed tolerance, integration and cohesion

Additionally, the Local Strategic Partnership Board has tackling Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) levels as a high priority.  Our work also draws from and helps to support the aims of the Healthier Reading Partnership and the Reading Older Peoples Partnership.

What is YMCA Reading trying to achieve?

YMCA Reading’s work aims to address a wide range of social issues facing the local community of Reading and its neighbouring communities.

These include:

  • High levels of young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).
  • Lack of opportunities for disadvantaged young people who are NEET to be supported back into education, employment or training.
  • Substantial levels of disadvantage amongst our young service users as a result of issues such as: learning difficulties, poor lifeskills, low educational achievement, a history of anti-social behaviour and crime.
  • Poor understanding and/or adoption of healthy lifestyles amongst our young disadvantaged people.
  • Isolation and loneliness amongst older people, particularly those living on their own, as well as anxiety and fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, particularly perpetrated by younger people.
  • Fragmented communities with a lack of interaction between different generations, ethnicities and backgrounds.

What about social enterprise opportunities?

In 2013 we created Y-Build, a social enterprise construction company.  The primary aim of Y-Build was to offer apprenticeship opportunities within the construction industry to vulnerable and hard-to-reach young people who otherwise might not be able to access such opportunities.  In 2018 Y-Build was wound down however had a number of key successes:

  • 3 of 5 apprentices through the programme were successful completions. One is fully employed by YMCA Reading and is a key member of staff.
  • Re-build of the Padworth Outdoor Activity Centre
  • Completion of a number of private build projects.

We continue to offer apprenticeship and volunteer training opportunities to people from a wide range of backgrounds such as jobseekers, young people with learning difficulties, care leavers and older people.

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