Young people are given a second chance at life

Young people, there's no need to feel down... the modern YMCA can offer you the chance to improve your life - and it's not just for men!

Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:29 pm
Chesterfield and Ilkeston hospitality and catering leaners with YMCA Derbyshire CEO Gillian Sewell and High Sheriff of Derbyshire Elizabeth Fothergill.
Chesterfield and Ilkeston hospitality and catering leaners with YMCA Derbyshire CEO Gillian Sewell and High Sheriff of Derbyshire Elizabeth Fothergill.

Every year, YMCA Derbyshire helps hundreds of troubled young people aged between 16 and 25 get their lives on track by offering them education and accommodation.

“We take young people from the chaotic to contributing members of society,” Grace Harrison, fundraising communications manager for the charity, explains.

The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in London in 1844 by Sir George Williams and the Derbyshire branch was set up shortly afterwards in 1847.

Nowadays the Christian organisation caters for young people indiscriminate of their faith or gender with the mantra, ‘protect, trust, hope and persevere’, which is taken from Corinthians 13: 4-7.

Grace continues: “We protect them, we trust them to make the right choices, we hope for their future and we persevere for them.”

She explains that the charity may help a young person more than once and persevere to help them overcome their troubles.

The YMCA has education and training centres in Ashgate Manor, in Chesterfield, Coronation Street, in Ilkeston, and various locations in Derby.

“We can offer maths and English GCSEs, we offer a lot of vocational training, hospitality, computer skills, health and safety,” Grace says.

“We track the jobs market to see where the most opportunities are and we offer training to meet that. That way we give young people the best chance of getting a job.”

The organisation works with employers throughout the county to offer young people work experience. An example of this is a group of ten young people who are currently carrying out work experience at Toyota in South Derbyshire, where they are working in various different sectors, such as catering, security and administration.

Young people learning catering are also able to put their skills into practice through the charity’s own learning kitchen in Derby.

They are often called upon to cater large events and will be doing so for a fundraising evening being held later this month, due to be attended by the High Sheriff of Derbyshire, Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire and managing director of Toyota among the 200 guests - the aim of which is to raise £15,000 for the charity.

Grace explains that the YMCA is a college, and like all other colleges, it is regulated by Ofsted - achieving an overall rating of ‘good’ in it’s last inspection.

YMCA Derbyshire offers accommodation or young people from all over the county who have no place to go on its campus in Derby.

“We have 88 units of accommodation on site with 24/7 care and support. We also have over 40 ‘move on’ units across the city,” says Grace.

The ‘move on’ accommodation is for when young people are ready to leave the campus, but not quite ready to be on their own yet. They are still able to access advice and support from the charity.

In 2015 alone the charity supported 211 people through accommodation and 262 through training.

Gillian Sewell, CEO of YMCA Derbyshire comments: “We offer young and vulnerable people a safe front door, supported accommodation, suitable accredited training and education courses, access to employment projects and mentoring opportunities. All of which is aimed at getting individuals in to further education, employment and on to independent living.

She continues: “I have seen many young people arrive at YMCA Derbyshire with damaged hope and enjoy seeing them leave with qualifications, increased confidence, self esteem and resilience. We believe that every young person should not limit their horizons they should work hard, engage in the support provided and then reap the rewards that comes with that.”

Gillian says the charity can offer you people a second chance.

“Whether mainstream school hasn’t quite worked for them, or there has been a breakdown in the family home YMCA Derbyshire are here to offer the support and guidance needed to enable every young person to belong, contribute and thrive,” she says. “We work in the local community for the local community.

“The need for our services is greater than ever and we require support to sustain and develop our work, and remain responsive to the real needs in our local community. We welcome support from individuals, businesses, churches, community groups and schools.

YMCA Derbyshire has regular intakes for training and education courses.

Further information on training opportunities, or how to make a donation, can be found at or by emailing [email protected]