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Spice Up Your Life

Joel writes about joining our staff team. This post is part of a series of thought-pieces loosely inspired by the music of our youth.

Are you bored of working in the same dead-end job? Maybe it’s time – as the Spice Girls famously posited – to spice up your life!

Here at YMCA Doncaster, the work that our staff provide covers an incredibly wide range; all dedicated to helping the lives of vulnerable young people in Doncaster. We want to walk you through what it’s like to work for us, the impact it has on those we help, and to tempt you to join the team.

After a series of jobs that made me feel as though they weren’t progressing anywhere, I found a job advertised at YMCA Doncaster for their new position of Engagement Officer. I immediately filled out an application form and here I am today. Although my application process took place online due to the COVID-19 lockdown measures, I could tell that I would feel right at home.

We are a small team here – consisting of around twenty staff members – but we definitely pack a punch! We work closely with each other (2 meters apart, of course!) with a lot of our work overlapping, meaning that our strong staff infrastructure is able to provide the best possible support to those that desperately need it. This includes working hands-on with the young people in our Supported Accommodation and in the wider community; all under the guidance of our Chief Executive, Louise.

My role as Engagement Officer (along with my fellow team members: Bryony and Samantha) encompasses many responsibilities. Whilst we do have a small caseload of residents that we do weekly one-to-one keywork sessions with, our main aim will be to engage the wider community with the services and support that we provide here at YMCA Doncaster. This has been particularly challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt to a lot of our existing services, but we are currently developing some very exciting new initiatives as an alternative.

If you want to be the first to hear about the new projects we are planning to launch, click here to sign up to our mailing list and receive the most up-to-date information straight to your mailbox.

The beauty of working for us – as we are part of the charity sector – is knowing that the work we do can have a profound impact on a young person’s life. Although this can be challenging at times, it fills our heart with satisfaction to see somebody move on from us stronger than they were before. We give our residents the opportunity and space they need in order to thrive, free from the obstacles and barriers they were previously facing. When reflecting on the work that we do, Louise explains that “the most rewarding thing, by far, is knowing how much we are helping young people to see a positive future and move towards it”.

In addition to this, all of our staff members receive a comprehensive induction; with regular training to equip us with the most effective tools and knowledge beneficial to the job. During your time working here, there are several opportunities to progress further with the Association, allowing you to turn a job into a career.

Far from your regular 9-to-5 job, working at YMCA Doncaster is an amazing opportunity. Every day is completely different; one day you may be working on a future fundraising campaign, and the next you may be helping a vulnerable young person get their life back on track. Just knowing that the work we do can drastically change somebody’s life is what brings me into work; day after day.

Do you think you have what it takes to join our team? Click here to check out our latest job opportunities.

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Somewhere Only We Know

Bryony writes about our Supported Accommodation. This post is part of a series of thought-pieces loosely inspired by the music of our youth.

‘Oh, I didn’t know you had accommodation, I thought it was just a charity shop’, is one of the most frequent phrases we hear at YMCA Doncaster, but in reality, the Supported Accommodation is key to the work we do. Our housing gives those who live here the boost they need to be able to do and accomplish whatever they wish.

We have self-catered accommodation for 30 of Doncaster’s young people aged 16-30. Each room has a fully furnished bedroom and a kitchen area, so those living with us can begin to build the skills they need to move on to living independently. The top floor of the accommodation building also has what we call the ‘Penthouse’, which has a shared kitchen to allow residents to get accustomed to living with other people.

We believe that everyone has a right to safe and secure accommodation and at YMCA Doncaster we are really proud that we can offer this to the people who need it the most.

Young people who have experienced living here will know just how life-changing the Supported Accommodation can be, from learning how to cook and do laundry to balancing a budget and paying rent. Whilst these skills are important however, most of our residents will treasure the friendships made within accommodation much more than anything else.

Ella was a resident at the YMCA (read her story here), a friend who already lived here suggested that she applied so she did. Ella loved her time here, living in both the normal accommodation and in the ‘Penthouse’. Ella and her friend decided that when it was time to leave the Supported Accommodation they wanted to continue living together. They both used the skills and techniques they’d learned through their weekly keywork sessions to find a suitable property and get everything they needed to make it a home.

It is clear to see that living with us – alongside the wide range of other services we offer to residents – is invaluable in teaching those young people what it can be like to live independently, whether that be on their own, or with a friend. The Supported Accommodation offers a safe space and an escape from sometimes toxic situations, which allows residents to open up more in keywork sessions to really work on being the best version of themselves.

If you’d like to learn more about our supported accommodation or apply for a place, then head to the accommodation section of this website.

As always we would like to say a big thank you for all your continued support.

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Push the Button

Joel writes about how the money we receive through donations are able to help those most in need. This post is part of a series of thought-pieces loosely inspired by the music of our youth.

If you are reading this post on our website, you should see a little red button with the word ‘donate’ on it. Do you see it? Tempting, isn’t it…

Have you ever donated money to a charity and… that’s it? You come away from the experience not really knowing what’s going to happen with your donation; money that you have given to a cause you care so deeply about. Here at YMCA Doncaster, we want to be as transparent as possible and inform you of the essential support that your donations allow us to provide.

What people may not be aware of is that – in addition to our charity shop and Community Centre (which are usually open to the public; thanks, Coronavirus) – we have our own Supported Accommodation building. This is where we are able to house up to thirty young people that are in need of support and give them a place that they can call home. They will each come from a completely different background and often lack the support network that most of us take for granted during the most formative years of our lives. It is here that we help to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to prepare them for moving on to independent living.

When a young person moves in with us, it may be their first time living alone. This can be a daunting experience for them and it is our responsibility to make this transition as smooth as possible for them. We teach them the fundamental skills needed for independent living: such as money management, basic cooking and cleaning skills, and simple house maintenance. Some residents may require a lot of guidance in this area, whereas others may only need a gentle nudge in the right direction.

During their stay with us – which may range from a few months up to two years – every single one of our thirty residents receive weekly one-to-one keywork sessions. These are done with our team of trained Keyworkers and help our residents to understand what it means to support themselves independently. We want everybody to live a healthy and fulfilling life and to positively contribute to the wider community. We address any obstacles they may be facing on their journey to this goal and help them to overcome it. This may include us providing the support ourselves or pointing them in the direction of the appropriate services.

However, having a team of skilled Keyworkers obviously comes at a cost. This is where your donations come into play. The money that you donate helps to pay for the services that they provide; allowing vulnerable young people in our local area to get the support that they most desperately need. Otherwise, they would often be forced to stay in toxic – sometimes abusive – environments.

We have been helping the young people of Doncaster for over 160 years now and we want to continue helping future generations of young people for years to come. Without your donations and support, this would not be possible.

If you want to help be responsible for getting a young person’s life back on track, then be sure to click here to donate on our JustGiving page.

No donation is too little and we can’t thank you enough for your support.

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Beating the Boredom

It goes without saying that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on all of our lives. Adjusting to lockdown, with some having to self isolate and shield, not to mention washing our hands vigorously whilst singing happy birthday, not once but twice!

For young people living in YMCA Doncaster’s supported accommodation it has been very strange and one of the worries for them, as for many other people living in lockdown, is the possibility of boredom setting in. Luckily our amazing staff have been on hand to continue support sessions with our young people, as well as providing resources to #BeatTheBoredom and keep our residents minds active.

Some of our young people have begun learning sign language online, others have taken up journaling and writing about their lockdown experience, as well as joining in with online exercising classes.

Weekly quizzes are a regular occurrence at our supported accommodation, along with baking challenges and crafting activities, from origami to chalk drawing. Easter Bunny even dropped by at Easter and left treats for all our young people (and staff too!).

If you’d like to contribute to the work we do in supporting young people who would otherwise be homeless, please see here.

All support sessions and activities are carried out with socially distancing measures firmly in place.

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