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

St Mungo’s and YMCA Employer Event

  • We were delighted to welcome a number of local businesses to The Y Theatre for our first Employer Engagement Event in February, for a lively session on promoting positive change for people who have experienced homelessness.  We’re working with St Mungo’s to show businesses how they can diversify their staff team and confidently recruit and sustain staff with lived experience. help people who have been homeless
  • YMCA Leicestershire has been working in partnership with St Mungo’s Leicester Recovery college for over a year with the aim of supporting our residents into employment.  Businesses can benefit from the expertise of our two charities, such as continuing support from an employment specialist and understanding trauma in a way that can benefit employees from many different backgrounds.

How this project evolved

We’re a small charity and we try to create partnerships where everybody benefits. We find that businesses are interested in projects that help young people gain skills. Alongside financial donations many are looking for relationships where they and their staff can get more involved.  So we started developing partnerships where the young people gain skills directly with employers, through work experience or suitable paid positions. This has worked really well. Local engineering company Impact Air created a “World of Work” programme to give young people experience.


Find out more about partnering with us

  • Contact Desrie Hadley: Employment Specialist at Leicester Recovery College, St Mungo’s on [email protected]
  • To find out more about supporting YMCA Leicestershire please email [email protected]

Community Cafe

From January to June 2023 we opened The Y bar for members of the public to grab a St Martin’s coffee and some cake, use our free wifi, crack on with work or just have a lovely moment of calm in a busy day.

Our Community Cafe provided a safe space for young people to do barrista training and gain confidence servicing customers. Thank you for supporting them!

Shine features on Podcast

Hannah Deignan​, Shine Project Co‑ordinator at YMCA Leicestershire was a guest on The Meaning of Home Podcast discussing the impact of homelessness on young people.  She was interviewed by host Sara Christou and joined by Phil Kerry, CEO of New Horizon Youth Club.

The Meaning of Home Podcast explores the complexities and connections between home and homelessness with different guests each month. Host Sara Christou and producer Dave Angel are Doctoral Researchers at Loughborough University, part of The Harnessing Opportunities for Meaningful Environments Centre for Doctoral Training (the HOME CDT)

Listen Now:


Join us at our free carol service 2022

Wednesday 7th December at 7pm

Come and join us for live performances, bible readings and carol singing. Our cosy carol service is a great time to meet with friends and celebrate Christmas with mulled wine and mince pies.

The event is free and open to all communities. However if you wish to give a donation you could help give a homeless young person a safe place to call home and the support they need to create lasting change in their lives.

Location: The Y Theatre, 7 East Street, LE1 6EY
Book your free tickets on our new theatre website

Young Experts By Experience Residential Trip

As part our commitment to involving young people in the delivery of our services, The Y Leicester applied to the YMCA Central and Anglia Trust Fund for support with funding a residential trip for 8 residents. The fund contributed £1000 towards a three day trip to Crowden Outdoor Education Centre in the Derbyshire Dales.

The residential trip was designed to support a group of residents in forming as a panel of young Experts by Experience. It bought together eight residents who did not know one another but want to contribute to the way in which The Y’s services are delivered. Not only did the residential trip support their formation as a panel but it gave the young people a once in a lifetime experience, pushed them beyond their limits and created lasting memories.

We’ll leave it to the experts to say the rest…..

“On the 25th November I attended the residential with a bunch of people from The Y…Overall it was very refreshing and a real good chance to exercise my personal strength and belief in myself. Not only did I conquer my fear of heights I felt comfortable doing it in front of people out of my inner circle. Since then I’ve kept in touch with the other residents and we are trying to organise board games here at The Y.” – Resident 1

“I found the residential trip with the YMCA a great, unique and joyful experience. I think it has brought many of us young people living at The Y together. The opportunity to get to know each other better and closer was a wonderful idea. More projects and amazing experiences will hopefully make other residents feel more comfortable and willing to to socialise with others in the near future” – Resident 2


We were also incredibly impressed by a poem that one of our young people (Ashleigh) wrote about the experience:
Little Victories
Cherish and celebrate them,
Though they may seem small,
The absorbing insecurities stem,
And as your mood and self-esteem fall,
You hold your head up and stand tall!

Like a soldier into battle,
Stronger than any who doubt me,
I am sure this will give them a rattle.
Day by day, soon they will see,
Confidence in myself is the key.

Anxious and full of worry,
My mind starts to run wild,
I just want to get this over in a hurry
Yet giving it a go, like an eager child,
**** it’s cold! Not close to mild

Coming out my comfort zone,
Like a bird leaving the nest,
No service, I can’t even use my phone,
So far this trip’s been a test
Though 10/10 it’s been the best!

Each day overcoming the one before,
As I say “I actually did that”
Not “I didn’t make the score”
As now I am no measly cat,
A lion of pride, to which others take off their hat.

***Inspired by the residential trip and written by Ashleigh




Y Heritage – Round 3 Pitch Day

Our young people took their positions in the chairs of power for another day of pitches. This is the opportunity for the shortlisted finalists to pitch their projects to our young “dragons”. Our panel are looking to be inspired, connected with and feel the proposed project is something they would really be interested in. They ask some tough questions to really get to the bottom of how this project will engage young people in heritage.

After a pretty full on day of pitches from the shortlisted projects, it was then up to our young people to choose which projects, if any, they wanted to fund and come to a consensus. This really developed the decision making skills and allowed our panellists to use their powers of negotiation and have a say. We are delighted to say that they did reach an easy decision together and chose to fund two projects.

Leicestershire Cares were awarded funding for a project called “Taking back our heritage”. This project will involve care experienced young people working together to discover, create and promote positive cultural histories about care experienced life, culminating in a larger exhibition during Care Leavers week in October 2020.

Crafting Relationships were awarded funding for their project called Your Story. One of our young commissioners will be supporting the children in year 5 at Battling Brook Primary  School on an intergenerational, heritage focused, social action project. They will be drawing on the stories of national and local characters to inspire their own lives.