YMCA to receive freedom of the borough

North Tyneside's YMCA is set to be awarded the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of almost 140 years of distinguished service.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 11:00 am
Updated Thursday, 17th May 2018, 11:36 am
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The charity, which has been supporting people in need since 1879, provides services including accommodation for young homeless people, runs a popular cafe, and houses ‘vital’ community groups.

Councillors are expected to approve the YMCA’s nomination to receive the borough’s highest honour at the council’s annual meeting on Thursday evening.

Steve Pugh, head of operations at YMCA North Tyneside, said the accolade was “unexpected and a real privilege”, adding that the organisation had been transformed in recent years.

He said: “We have been around since 1879, but I think we have made really significant developments in the organisation in the last four or five years.

“While we have been around for many years and been respected for all of that time, we have really got a new lease of life.

“There has been investment in our building and we now have young people living under our roof.

“The reinvigoration of our gym and the opening of our cafe have been fantastic and we have really put our focus back on young people.

“We have definitely turned a few heads in the borough in the last few years.”

The charity, which recently merged with YMCA Teesdale, now employs 84 people and has around 30 core volunteers.

Councillor Cath Davis, who has nominated the YMCA for the award, said: “The YMCA North Tyneside has been working to help those in need within the borough since 1879.

“Examples of the support they offer are projects such as the YMCA Sir James Knott supported accommodation project, which helps homeless young people restart their lives.

“It provides some young people with long term intensive support which involves daily one to one care and for others it offers simply a safe, secure place to live, together with the security of knowing they can easily get support if they need to ask.

“The project also helps young people with their transition into employment and has recently opened a kitchen and community café which provides an excellent training facility for young people and helps them to acquire skills in customer service and food hygiene skills, which are transferable to the world of work.

“The housing project has developed accommodation for young people within the James Knott building and the surrounding area and helped transform that area of North Shields.

“Together with a fully functional nursery and hosting vital community groups such as the breakfast club for veterans the YMCA has continued to help those most in need helping over 30 homeless young people.”

Previous recipients of the Freedom of the Borough have included Alan Shearer, Wallsend Boys Club, Girlguiding North Tyneside, Royal Navy vessel HMS Tyne, the Whitley Bay, North Shields and District branch of the Royal British Legion, and Whitley Bay Football Club.

Daniel Holland , Local Democracy Reporting Service