A groundbreaking project for young homeless people running across the Black Country is urgently seeking caring people to become hosts. YMCA Open Door provides accommodation for vulnerable young people by placing them in the spare rooms of people who live in the community.
The YMCA is currently looking for families and individuals across the Black Country with a spare bedroom to provide a home for young homeless people aged 16-25 as part of their Supported Lodgings scheme.
I was picked up from home on Friday at 6am and we made our way to Birmingham Airport. From there, we took a very turbulent journey to Glasgow where we met up with the lad’s and took ANOTHER minibus ride to Fort William; we had a quick stop at Ben Nevis to have a look at our starting point, which made the whole thing quite real. We got to our base at Bencoe Hostel, where the group leader Dave, talked to us about safety and how to pack our rucksacks; he also informed us that if the river crossing at Scaffell Pike was above knee height, then our challenge was over…eek! We headed to the pub for a meal and watched the first part of the England match, then made our way to bed ready for the next few days.
After a rough night’s sleep we were up at 5am, had some breakfast, checked that we had all that we needed in our rucksacks and headed out to Ben Nevis! We started our longest climb at 7am which was very slippery at the bottom. We met some men who had started out at 6am who were also doing the 3 peaks challenge for a charity for terminally ill children. When we got to to the top, we were greeted with snow and a sheer drop to our left, good job I knew my left from my right!
Eventually we got to the summit to find a man eating cold soup and singing happy birthday… as you do. Dave told us there would be sections on each decent where we would have to run, to make up for lost time, so we all held hands and ran through the snow which was fantastic fun! Towards the bottom I kept slipping over and was told that if I kept my feet completely flat on the boulders it would help me stop falling over… it didn’t work!
4 hours and 26 minutes later we arrived back at the minibus. A quick change and off the next mountain. Dave told us we were at least 30 minutes behind schedule! It would take us 6 hours to get to the next destination, so our driver put his foot down (limited to 64MPH of course!) One peak down, two to go!
Scafell Pike was a hard vertical climb from the outset, fortunately the river was low enough for us to cross. We met a group on the way to the top who through they were at the summit, until Dave informed them there was still a way to go… gutted! We made our way back down, running again and completed Scafell Pike in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Pleased that my body was still cooperating – not bad for 41 eh?! We set off for Snowdon which would be a 4 hour journey.
We arrived at Snowdon at 2.20am in the pitch black, armed with head torches we made our way up. The climb at the bottom wasn’t so bad but when we went under the railway bridge it hit us, my legs didn’t want to do anymore; i was taking 10 paces then stopping, a long journey ahead. A few hundred paces later we arrived at the top of Snowdon, which was a bit grim! Tottled on down and reached the bottom at 5.20am.
All done, we managed to complete the challend in 22 hours and 40 minutes! I had a fabulous time, it was a really great experience, but the whole group agreed “NEVER AGAIN!” It’s been a week and I am still recovering, my brain doesn’t want to cooperate with my legs and we’re struggling to make the stairs!
Thank you to everyone who supported me, I have managed to raise over £600 for the young people at the YMCA and I couldn’t have done that without your help!
Natalie Gilliland, PA to the CEO (which as you can see, is really hard work…) here at YMCA Black Country will be undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge in June to raise money for the YMCA’s work with vulnerable young people. Here’s how she’s getting on:
Following my decision to sign up for the 3 Peaks Challenge last year, I have been training really hard - I mean really really hard! You don’t know my trainer, Dave Stevens (former member of the British Parachute Regiment) need I say any more??
Along with our normal training schedule of ultimate fat burning, high energy workouts, using weights and doing lots of sprint work we went on a 14 mile trek across the Peak District last February, which took about 7 hours. The last hour meant we had to walk up a long (very long) winding road, I don’t normally swear but on that occasion… it hurt!
Last Bank Holiday Monday we climbed Mount Snowdon which took us 2 hours going up and 1.5 hours coming down (we did jog part of the way down just to get warm again!). On the way up it was raining, it was extremely windy and snowing at the top, the sun did eventually come out but only when we were half way down (lovely). I’ve been told that Snowdon is the easiest climb of the 3 peaks…if it is I’m in big trouble!!
However, I am so looking forward to it. I’m going with a great bunch of friends (through Urban Fitness Company) who I know will make it one of the best experiences of my life. Some of us fly out on 15th June, with the 3 Peaks Challenge beginning on 16th June at 7am.
I am raising money for the ‘Moving Forward Fund’, for which YMCA residents who are ready to move on into their own accommodation can apply for a grant to help them buy essential items for their own home. The grant enables all young people who have successfully progressed through our supported housing projects the opportunity of creating a comfortable and safe environment to live in, helping them to build a better future. If you would like to sponsor me, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/nataliegilliland
We will keep you updated on Nat’s progress and how she gets on!
I hope it is, because it moving season at the YMCA and we need all the force we can lay our hands on. I’m not just talking about physical force, but mental force – in fact primarily mental force.
The Communications Departments’ relocation is now complete with all items (bar a box of new toner cartridges which we need to get onto ebay to raise some money at some point) safely having reached the destination.
Work now continues apace with a new modus operandi in place. We can now track every job in terms of urgency and importance – which means that at any point we can prioritise new work simply and effectively!
Talking of moving on, YMCA residents at our Badger Court Foyer in Wolverhampton enjoyed a 2 day practical skills training course delivered by our friends at Wolverhampton Homes. ‘Steps to Success’ as it’s known, teaches practical stuff (like wallpapering) to residents who are ready to move on into new accommodation. We had some really great feedback from the YMCAers that attended so thank you Wolverhampton Homes!
So, now we’re settled we’re working on some exciting new projects related to the merger including a new website and other interesting rebranding stuff!
Sleep Easy: The Threequel (yes, it’s a word…)
So Sleep Easy year 3 is over and done, and what an event it was! 63 people turned up to help beat youth homelessness in Sandwell which was an incredible turn out; the best yet. People there included CEO of Sandwell Council Jan Britton and Councillor Simon Hackett, who were both taking part in their second Sleep Easy. Blind Dave Heeley also joined us with his Top2Toe challenge team, who were singing, joking and generally just making everyone laugh around the campfire!
There was yummy soup, provided by our very own Georgie Britton (Well spotted, she’s related to Jan…) tea, fires and the local curry house even popped in to drop of some samosas! Winner!
There were some interesting creations when it came to box building, properties with sloping roofs and barn doors and the not so creative, sheet of cardboard over a bench…I hasten to add it was quite effective in sheltering the person. Once everyone had constructed their shelters for the night, we were reminded why we were there when Martin, one of our residents, told us how he came to be in the YMCA, his struggle with drugs and how the YMCA has helped him.
We got some great media coverage this year, including the Express & Star and the Sandwell Chronicle. We also managed to secure a spot on Midlands Today, which if you haven’t had the pleasure of watching yet I suggest you do because it’s amazing! The highlight of Martin’s week I heard.
Sleep Easy was fun, but sleeping rough isn’t. Once people started to get into their boxes and bed down, their thoughts weren’t about how hilarious Blind Dave’s singing is; it was about making sure that they kept warm and “Whoa, I’m only doing this for one night, and there’s people out there forced to do this every night – what’s that all about?!” Deep, huh?
For people sleeping rough, it’s not just a case of find a box, go to sleep – job’s a good’n; they don’t have easy access to the hot food and drinks like we did, they don’t have the six layers of clothes like we did, they don’t have the option to go and sit by the fire like we did; they have to think about keeping warm, keeping dry, who might be around to make their night more difficult – ultimately, how they are going to survive the night.
We had a great time at Sleep Easy raising money for the vulnerable young people that we work with here at YMCA West Bromwich & District and we were able to raise £6K to support our residents in their journey, but I don’t think anybody left on Saturday morning without thinking about the thousands of people who also spent the night sleeping outside, who didn’t choose to.
So I guess all there is left to say is Thank You, to all the people who sacrificed that one night to help local young people build a future, and we’ll see you next year!
Hi, I’m Hyebin Kim from South Korea, a volunteer at West Brom YMCA. I’m here for 1 year, and it’s already been 5 months so far. I can’t believe I have a half of the year left! Time has flown by so quickly.
As a volunteer, I’m working at almost every department in YMCA. Nursery, I.T training, cooking class, reception and ten sing. At first, it was kind of confusing because I felt like I wasn’t being involved in anywhere, but now I’m really enjoying everything because I can meet many people. Fortunately, every single person around me here is very nice. I really appreciate it.
I like going on trips on weekends or in my holidays. I’ve been to Spain during the Christmas holiday, and it was awesome. The weather was really warm and the atmosphere was also different from England. I like everything in this country, but what I like the most is I can meet the world which I didn’t know before, and learn many things from it. So I’m planning to go travel as much as possible during this year.
Many people ask me if I miss home. Of course I do, but it’s not very often, but when I first came here, last September, it was really hard for me because everything was totally different from my home country, and no one I knew was around me to cheer me up. Sometimes I felt really lonely and cried but now, I’m alright. I don’t know what exactly happened to me, though :) I think I just got used to everything and I’m really happy with it. To be honest, I don’t wanna go back to Korea yet!
I feel I’m really lucky to be here, and also happy everything was alright last year. Hopefully it will be going amazing also in 2012!
Today we’ve been out leaflet-ing at Wolverhampton University to promote Sleep Easy. We gave out over 500 leaflets and hopefully got a lot of students interested, so we’re just waiting now for the registrations to start rolling in! Here’s a picture of our little display we made, which I must say we are very proud of! It’s the simple things right?
If you would like to sign up to a Sleep Easy event or donate to the cause if you can’t join us, head to www.wbymca.org.uk and follow the links.
Over 160 people, most of them young people from YMCAs across the Midlands came together on in November, at Burton Albion F.C.’s Pirelli Stadium for their annual gathering to celebrate the outstanding achievements and successes of young people, volunteers and staff. It was a great evening and was compared by two of our very own stars from West Bromwich YMCA.
The evening included entertainment from young people and staff from across the region including a performance from one of our residents, an inspiring talk from Richard Whitehead, a GB Paralympian and World Record-holder and awards being presented to YMCA members for their various achievements.
One of our residents won ‘Adult Achiever of the Year’ with several of our residents also receiving certificates for being nominated.
A great evening was had by all and it was fantastic to celebrate success!
Thanks to one of our residents who got hard to work promoting this event, West Midlands Police came into the YMCA to take part in a social session with the residents. They took part in activities such as playing on the wii, pool table and table tennis.
The session was intended to break down the barriers between the Police and young people, to help change their perception and help them to feel more comfortable around the Police. This was the first in a series of events which will take place, so the officers will be back soon to play football against the residents! Watch this space to find out how it goes….
One of the residents said, “The Police event was great; it gave me chance to interact with them and change my perceptions about the Police. I met new people and did a lot of team work. It was a really good day.”