Sign YMCA’s petition for affordable housing

Too many young people don’t have a place to call home or struggle to keep a roof over their head. Facing a lower minimum wage and lower levels of benefits, young people are at another unfair disadvantage.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Investment in affordable housing, alongside a strategy to end youth homelessness and reach those most in need would give more people a chance at having a safe and stable base.

Sign our petition today to help build the affordable homes that are so desperately needed.

New report launch!!!

‘Unlocking Affordable Homes’, released on 19th March 2024 by YMCA, highlights key barriers preventing the build of crucial affordable housing and calls for action to tackle the resulting crisis. The report uncovers inadequacies of funding models, which tend to affect smaller organisations more significantly, as well as barriers such as reliance on existing land for new housing projects, coupled with frustrations around land acquisition.

In response, YMCA poses six key recommendations to truly unlock affordable homes for young people and communities in vital need.
As we pledge to embark on this ambitious endeavour, YMCA calls for support and collaboration from the next Government to overcome existing barriers, and create a future where safe and affordable housing is a fundamental right for all.

Read the full report here:

This election, we’re asking ‘what’s the best that could happen?’

This election, we’re asking ‘what’s the best that could happen?’

Now’s our chance to get the next government to put young people and communities at the heart of their vision and deliver real change. We want everyone to have a fair chance to discover who they are and what they can become.

Find out more about YMCA’s General Election Manifesto

New project to help museums improve engagement with young people

YMCA Leicestershire is delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new project Your Heritage Your Future funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

As part of the new project, the charity is seeking heritage partners across the East Midlands and East of England who want to focus on developing their engagement and employment opportunities for young people.

Your Heritage Your Future has been designed to support young people who have not been afforded the opportunity to engage in the Heritage Sector due to childhood adversities. The project will create the chance for them to participate, lead, work and ultimately bring diversity and inclusion to the heritage sector workforce.

YMCA Leicestershire and key partner Norfolk Museums Service both have significant experience of delivering impactful programmes to young people aged 11-25, many of whom would not previously have accessed heritage sites or have seen them as relevant to their lives.

Heritage organisations that sign up will receive training, which will empower them to build a sustainable youth engagement programme, develop partnerships with youth organisations and gain a deeper understanding of trauma informed practice.

In the second phase of the project it is hoped that young people will receive direct support to become a player, shaper or leader within the heritage sector.

Joanna Fleetwood-Smith, Business Development Director at YMCA Leicestershire, said: “This is a really exciting collaborative project with Norfolk Museums Service and we are delighted that National Lottery Heritage Fund can see the value in funding the development phase. We’d like to thank National Lottery Players for their support to make this happen.

Being able to support the museums and the heritage sector to develop their workforce and youth offer will make a real difference to the sector’s relevance and inclusivity, so that young people can see heritage as somewhere for them to enjoy, learn and earn.”

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities, Norfolk County Council said: “We’ve seen first-hand the successes that young people can have when they are simply supported in the right way. By working closely with heritage partners in the East Midlands and East of England to create new opportunities, we hope to connect young people with a sector they may not typically find themselves gravitating towards, and through this, explore and flourish.

Heritage organisations looking to find out more information should contact Juliet Martin, Project Lead for East Midlands, on [email protected]

Download our flyer to find out about our Trauma informed training taking place in October 2023

See our previous heritage work here:


Sleep Easy at King Power raises £16,000

On Tuesday 16th May 2023, 55 volunteers arrived at King Power Stadium with sleeping bags in hand, ready to swap their beds for cardboard boxes to support local people experiencing homelessness.


After some smooth jazz courtesy of Curtis and Steve and an introductory talk by YMCA Leicestershire CEO, Paul Brown, our participants headed out into the area and set up their cardboard boxes where they’d be sleeping for the night.


With a prize on the line for best designed box, there was no shortage of fairy lights and flags, not to mention multi-storey box set-ups complete with a tuck shop, courtesy of our enthusiastic volunteers from the Co-op.



“The sleep-out was a truly eye-opening experience. Spending the night out in the open with nothing but a sleeping bag and a cardboard box is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It was cold, uncomfortable, and I didn’t sleep a wink. To think that there are young people who have to do this everyday, without security, proper sanitation or the promise of a sausage sandwich and a nice warm shower is absolutely heartbreaking.” – Gemma, RKH

“My thoughts around taking part were that, as humans, we all have to understand that life and circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. Any of us could become homeless through no fault of our own and I think it’s really important for us all to humble ourselves. This experience was just a small glimpse of how difficult it is for people living on the streets.”  Charlene, PA Housing

After a rough night’s sleep, our volunteers joined us for some morning exercise followed by hot drinks and breakfast courtesy the Holiday Inn.


Through their fundraising efforts, we raised close to £19,000 for local homeless young people and adults. These funds will enable YMCA Leicestershire to continue running and expand its vital services, which include providing safe and welcoming accommodation for homeless people aged 16-25, as well as personalised skills sessions to enable young people move forward positively with their lives.


We would like to thank everyone who took part and created such a buzz in the stadium including individual fundraisers and staff from Rock Kitchen Harris, PA Housing, Central England Co-Operative, Parallel, Unite Students, Hays, Leicester City Football Club and Leicester City in the Community, VF Corp, YMCA Coalville shop and YMCA Leicestershire staff.  The event would not have been possible without the huge support of an amazing venue and the support of Leicester City Football Club, exercise classes from LCFC in the Community, music from Curtis and Steve, breakfast at Holiday Inn Express, boxes from VF Corporation, marketing and promotion from RKH and FU Media.


If you would like to help support YMCA Leicestershire’s work with homeless young people and adults, you can click here to donate.

Want to get involved in fundraising? Follow us on social media  or sign up to our enewsletter below to keep up to date with our latest events and opportunities.

Sleep out at King Power Stadium in May

We are urging local businesses and residents to get behind our first Sleep Easy challenge on the 16th of May 2023.

The Sleep Easy challenge involves spending one night sleeping out at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium with a cardboard box for shelter. Whilst this isn’t a true reflection of how homeless people live, the charity hopes it will give an insight into how it feels to not have a safe place to call home.

With approximately 184 16–24-year-olds either declared as homeless or threatened with homelessness every day across England and Wales, more funding would have a greater impact locally.

All the money raised from Sleep Easy will benefit local young people and adults who are experiencing homelessness by enabling YMCA Leicestershire to continue running and expand vital services. They include providing safe and welcoming accommodation for homeless people aged 16-25, as well as mental health support and personalised skills sessions to enable young people move forward positively with their lives.

We also offers a safe and welcoming environment for rough sleepers of all ages to get some home comforts such as a cup of tea, breakfast and clean clothes, as well as advice on finding suitable accommodation and support for issues such as poor mental health, unemployment and loneliness.

Request your place today!

Online registration is now open and costs just £20. As well as having the unique experience of spending the night at King Power Stadium and the chance to help homeless people in Leicestershire, participants will receive:

  • A pack containing key information about the event and fundraising tips
  • One cardboard box to create your less comfy space
  • Hot drinks and soup
  • A breakfast roll
  • Prizes for the best decorated boxes

Leicester City Ambassador, Alan Birchenall, added: “We’re delighted to be supporting YMCA Leicestershire with its first ever Sleep Easy fundraising event. At Leicester City, we’re proud to be a part of our local community, and we’re committed to helping local charities that make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Emma Knight, fundraising and communications manager at YMCA Leicestershire, says: “We’re calling on the good people of Leicestershire to join us for our first Sleep Easy fundraiser, to raise vital funds for young people and adults experiencing homelessness. We understand that finding meaningful and different ways to fundraise can be a challenge, but Sleep Easy is a unique opportunity to bring your company, sports team, or social group together for a challenging, yet rewarding event that will make a real difference to those in need. We also appreciate that people have different life circumstances, so we are asking participants to set their own sponsorship target, and are grateful for all donations – no matter how large or small.”

For those who can’t attend or simply want to do more to help, there are many other ways to get involved. Options include sponsoring the cardboard boxes, providing a Sleep Easy breakfast for participants, donating a prize, stewarding, taking photos and more. YMCA Leicestershire welcomes all types of support and urges local businesses and organisations to get in contact with their ideas.

Jamie Mollart, director of advertising agency RKH on Pocklington’s Walk, comments: “As a long-time supporter YMCA Leicestershire, we are thrilled to assist with the delivery of the first ever Sleep Easy event. Supporting the local community is at the heart of our business, and it has been incredibly rewarding for all of our staff to contribute to such an important cause over the years.  The work that YMCA Leicestershire does to provide safe and welcoming accommodation for homeless young people is vital. We urge other businesses in the area to join us in supporting this fantastic event and to raise as much money as possible.”


For more information, please visit

“Make ‘Em Laugh!” George Williams exhibition takes place during the Comedy Festival

George Williams Make Em Laugh exhibition has once again raised smiles for The Y audiences this Leicester Comedy Festival 2017.

Focusing on some of the more contemporary household comedians, George produces a twist on the traditional notion of caricature with his technique of layering, manipulating and distorting shapes. This year’s exhibition featured Jo Brand, Jack Dee, Rowan Atkinson, Ross Noble, Russell Brand, Harry Hill amongst others as part of the British Comedy Greats collection.

George Williams collection is available to buy, visit his website for more information.

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Romeo and Juliet review

Romeo and Juliet is the world’s greatest love story, telling the fateful story of the star-crossed lovers. Ballet Theatre UK is bringing to The Y Theatre a refreshing take on the ballet production with impressive grace and tragic emotion that was brought to live by their intimate movement repertoire.

This production by Hinckley based company Ballet Theatre UK is the latest in their history of vast repertoire, becoming one of the UK’s most popular touring companies. The company have received plenty of positive accreditation from within the industry as well as their audiences, therefore this take on the greatest love story is set to please us all.

This story follows the main thread of Shakespeare’s story. Where the two lovers meet at Capulet’s ball, therefore starting off a fateful series of events that conclude with both star-crossed lovers coming to their death embrace.

Their movement repertoire was elegant, watching their athletic bodies glide along the stage was inspirational. The young bodies undertaking a series of sustaining the high level of speed and clarity within their choreography. They had a lovely pace working through the tale of the two lovers, however it didn’t stray away from the intimacy and intensity created by knowing what would happen in the end.

I thought that the size of the space aligned with the basic scenery and lighting design allowed for an emphasis on the movement that Ballet Theatre UK is well recognised for.

Ballet Theatre UK’s Romeo and Juliet will end touring Sunday 29th January before Giselle begins touring from February 2017.

This blog has been written by Emma Hope, UK Culture, Lifestyle and Travel Blogger based in the East Midlands.
Click here to visit Emma’s website and read the original blog.

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Christmas Shoeboxes

The amount of Christmas donations that we have received this December has totally overwhelmed both staff and residents here at The Y. Donations included festively wrapped parcels and shoeboxes (and other boxes) containing festive treats, gloves, socks, dishes and bowls, toiletries, clothing and more. Local schools, colleges, church and guide groups were all very busy ensuring The Y’s residents had something to open on Christmas Day.

T’was a week (or two) before Christmas.
So December came, and the days got dark,
And the tree in the bar was looking quite stark.
Until a week or two before the big day,
Truck loads of goodies came The Y’s way!!!

There were big gifts wrapped, all pretty with bows,
And small gifts sparkling, rows upon rows.
There were posh chocs, warm gloves and fluffy wool scarves,
And toiletries, note pads and stuff for nice baths.

Arriving from people, all happy to donate,
The schools and churches and guides all did great!
So it meant this Christmas when residents sat to eat,
There was a box for them each, containing shed loads of treats.

And they did an amazing job!
This year, for the very first time, The Y received more than enough wrapped boxes of festive cheer, to give EVERY resident a Christmas box, brimming with gifts. There were also warm clothes for rough sleepers attending The Y Support Project. The additional boxes will be given to new residents when they move in to The Y.

Big thanks go out to…
Beauchamp College, Cedars Academy, 1st Quorn Guides, Fullhurst College, King Edward VII, St Mary’s Church in Swithland and Stephenson College. Now every young person living at The Y will receive something on Christmas day. It means a lot for those who have been homeless or won’t be with their family to celebrate.
“Thank you for the chance to do this, means a lot for students to understand how difficult life can be for some people.” Beauchamp College

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NCS young people raise close to £4,000!

So 2016 saw The Y, team up (several times) with the young people who were on National Citizen Service. And boy… are we glad we did!
During the summer/autumn months, The Y were lucky enough to be the chosen charity for several groups involved in the NCS initiative. We went along to DeMontfort Uni and presented our charity, hoping for help with raising both awareness and funds. The NCS groups involved then made their choice as to which charity they would like to support, and The Y was lucky enough to be chosen four times in total.

Following our selection, the NCS team came to The Y for a week of planning. With young people making posters, calling local businesses for prizes, organising events, posting on social media etc etc, The Y became a hive of activity, and it was great! During their fourth and final week on the NCS program, the teams were crazy-busy accomplishing everything on their planning lists and more! We saw NCS groups selling cakes in Leicester train station, running bingo/ raffle/music/movie nights in our theatre space, taking part in sponsored sleep-outs, hosting coffee mornings, organising coin collections and much, much more!

NCS Results…
As a result of The Y teaming up with NCS, we managed to raise awareness of both The Y charity and the issues surrounding homelessness, to approximately 500 young people aged 16-18 and their families.

NCS managed to form some new relationships for The Y, with local retailers, by asking retailers to house The Y collection tins.

For us at The Y, over the course of NCS, we had the chance to work with around 60 young people directly, helping to organise and implement their chosen fundraising activities. And now, those 60 young people, through their time on NCS, have a much greater understanding of who The Y is and what we do!
NCS even created a buzz on social media attracting the likes of local MP Alberto Costa to tweet about them and the work they were doing with The Y ‘Well done to @NCS teams who volunteered & worked to support worthwhile causes this summer.’. Images of the group wearing The Y’s ‘Youth homelessness ends here in Leicestershire’ stamp T-shirts were also shared. Mr Costa also said, “The NCS is a wonderful programme that provides young people with skills and experience that will be valuable to them throughout their lives. It’s important to teach people the importance of giving back to the community whilst also developing their entrepreneurial skills through the range of money raising activities they organise”.

All this hard work paid off… And the young people involved in NCS raised £3977.14!

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Iris Watson House opening

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]14th October 2016


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Today we welcomed our former President Iris Watson to open our 4th move-on house. These houses provide an important last stepping stone for young people who have been in our higher support accommodation, giving them greater independence but with the stability of knowing we’re still on hand for advice. The house, based in the Queen’s Road area of Leicester, will provide accommodation for 5 young people.

Iris was a star of the stage and was an important part of the YMCA Musical Society, based at The Y Theatre, for 40 years. She was The Y’s first female Trustee, joining the board in 1975.

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The Y’s support service for disabled young people saved by BBC Children in Need funding

28th July 2016

The Y are delighted to announce that BBC Children in Need has awarded a grant of £118,909 to fund The Y’s Flat 108 Enabling Independence service over 3 years.  The Y had feared that the service may close as current funding came to end, having already made a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and young people here in Leicester.


Based in Leicester city centre, Flat 108 is a purpose-built training flat where young people aged 16 – 18 with physical or learning disabilities can spend time developing their independence skills, building strong self-belief, confidence and aspirations for their future. BBC Children in Need will fund a small staff team who work with each person in areas such as travel training, personal safety, budgeting & household bills, shopping, cooking, personal care and cleaning.


In 2011, The Y developed 7 self-contained flats to be accessible for disabled young people, Leicester City Council’s Disabled Children’s Service supported The Y to develop a small project to work with young people with a range of special educational needs and disabilities. The service offered opportunities to develop living skills and apply them to take control over day to day decisions and choices at a crucial stage of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Some of those young people will not be eligible for support from social care services which can lead to crisis at later stages in life.


Anna Maudsley, the Housing Director at The Y said; “We could not have continued to offer this specialist service for young people in Leicester without the support of BBC Children in Need. This grant will go on to change the lives of so many young people and give them the support they need.”



Brad’s Story

 Brad is a young man on the autistic spectrum whose life was changed dramatically through the support of the Flat 108 team in 2015.


“For a long period of my life, from like six years old, I wouldn’t go out to socialise or leave my house. I just wouldn’t associate myself with the real world. I would watch the world go by outside my bedroom window.


Prior to coming to Flat 108 I was aware of the concept of doing chores but needed to gain the ability to do it myself without the support of my father. I came here to learn two things, which I didn’t know how to do before: travel training and cooking. My fear of fire came from abuse when I was a kid. The training helped me lessen my fear of being burnt in a kitchen, it’s also shown me how to cook certain things and do chores without the support of my father.


The one-to-one support explained everything clearly and I really liked speaking to my support worker. I feel I can travel around more which will help me when I go to university. The service helped me to leave the house which I never knew how to do before this experience and helped me feel confident about being able to live independently in the future.”