YMCA centre is like ‘one big family’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 June 2015

The YMCA's first birthday.

The YMCA's first birthday.

Archant

RED velvet cake and celebratory speeches were the order of the day at Weston’s YMCA during its first birthday celebrations – but the incredible work which takes place within its walls was the main attraction.

The premises in Bristol Road Lower, right in the heart of Weston, has nine rooms for people aged 16-25 to stay in as they make the transition into independent living.

It was completely revamped in 2013 and reopened in May last year as a transformed and spacious modern centre.

It has a state-of-the-art gym, meeting room and a café which is used by residents, community groups and members of the public.

All of the YMCA’s residents have to be employed or in education to be eligible for a room and they are in turn given support with money management and any day-to-day issues they may have. One of its residents, 16-year-old Sarah Holden, described living there as being part of ‘one big family’.

Sarah’s mum is disabled so living with her became too difficult and she moved to the centre in October.

She said: “I find it great here. Everyone is very supportive and they help with everything, from everyday problems to money issues.

“Moving here made me realise I need to grow up a lot more, just in the way I see life. I shouldn’t take money for granted.

“It’s so nice to always have someone to talk to if I get a problem.”

Sarah works full-time at McDonald’s in Weston, and said: “I am on minimum wage so money is difficult sometimes. If I go out for a meal or something it can be most of my wages gone.

“I will stay in the centre as long as I can. It’s just like one big family here, I feel close to all of the people in the flats, and the staff are so supportive.”

Housing operations manager for the area Rob Blackmore said: “It has been quite a learning curve for us but it seems to be working here at the centre.

“The young people are being supported and I am sure that they can achieve living in our accommodation and they can achieve whatever they want to do in their lives in the future.”

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