YMCAs across Wales have created their first ever Manifesto ahead of this year’s national Assembly elections.
Providing a loud and clear voice for young people and communities across the country, the 36-page document spells out what the people YMCA supports believe should be prioritised as the most important policies for the incoming Welsh Assembly Members.
More than 500 people fed directly into the document. It focuses on the five key areas of support that YMCAs all over Wales provide 365-days-a-year, namely accommodation, training and education, health and wellbeing, family work and democracy and engagement.
Major recommendations within the report include:
- Developing new and alternative models of affordable housing like YMCA’s Y:Cube scheme.
- Protecting funding for the ‘Supporting People’ programme in Wales
- Developing a national non-formal ‘Skills for Life’ curriculum to sit alongside the formal school academic curriculum
- Introducing a national ‘Teen Nights’ initiative, which allows young people to access local sports and leisure centres for free or at a significantly subsidised rate every Friday or Saturday night.
- Reforming mental health services away from a medical and clinic-based model by encouraging more community and outreach delivery of services.
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of the National Council of YMCAs, said: “This Manifesto is our ‘voice’ for Wales, providing a path for vulnerable and unheard young people and communities to inform policy makers of what matters most.
“Within our Manifesto are major recommendations that we believe will go into making a better Wales for the people we support now and in the future. These recommendations span our major support areas and accurately reflect the needs we identified within communities across the country.
“YMCA understands the complex and challenging political and economic times in which we live and we have created a range of solutions that would make tangible differences to people with this context in mind.
“We are now calling on policy makers to implement these recommendations to ensure those who are most vulnerable and most in need are adequately supported to contribute and thrive all over Wales.”
Gabriel Cole, 21, is one YMCA client who inputted into the creation of the YMCAs in Wales Manifesto.
Gabriel has been supported by YMCA Swansea for the past year around a range of emotional issues. He said YMCA has helped him to start again and to get involved in the political debate ahead of this summer’s election.
Gabriel said: “I was really lost and struggling with life before coming to YMCA; they helped me get my life together and I am grateful for it.
“YMCA has also supported me to access guidance around looking for jobs and making decisions on colleges. Because of the help staff have given me, I now want to get into a role supporting others.”
The YMCAs in Wales Manifesto will be officially launched in front of current Assembly Members at the Pierhead Building, in Cardiff, on Wednesday 9 March.
YMCAs across Wales are affiliated to the national council of YMCAs and are part of a wider YMCA movement that supports more than 58 million people across 119 countries.
Read YMCAs in Wales’ Manifesto at www.ymca.org.uk/wales/manifesto
Show your support on Twitter with the hashtag #YMCAforWales