YMCA
Our History

The YMCA Movement in England is one of the largest youth charities in the country. From small beginnings the YMCA Movement has grown to become one of the biggest Christian charities in the world working in over 120 countries with 30 million members worldwide.

1844

George Williams formed the first YMCA, in London in 1844. Since then the YMCA has grown to have over 148 Local Associations of which Wolverhampton is one of them. The central purpose of all YMCAs is to meet the needs of young people particularly in times of need and regardless of their gender race, ability or faith.

George1851

YMCA begins to spread across the globe, as YMCAs are established in the USA and Canada.

1855

YMCA leaders meet in Paris and agree the founding ‘first principle’ for YMCAs across the world, the Paris Basis.

1879

The American YMCA opens its first gym.

1888

West Bromwich & District YMCA was formed in 1888 and met in St Michael’s Street, with the aim to “bring the young men of the town together by organising Bible and prayer meetings coupled with physical activities.

St Michaels Street

1891

The American YMCA invents basketball and goes on to invent volleyball in 1895.

1900

The first YMCA in Wolverhampton was based in Darlington Street in the former School of Art building.

(Image courtesy of Wolverhampton City Archives)

Image courtesy of Wolverhampton City Archives1912

The first purpose built hostels are built in London and Cardiff.

1914

During World War I, the British YMCA extends its work across the Channel to support the troops

Walsall YMCA is known to have been operational. General Ironmongers Mr FB Shuffrey being the Chairman and Treasurer.

1932

YMCA sets up the British Boys for British Farms initiative which benefits 25,000 young people.

1940

YMCA continues its war work and mobile canteens are introduced to bring refreshments to the troops.

1959

Many English YMCAs start opening youth clubs to promote young people’s personal development.

1965

YMCA moved to its current site on Carters Green when John Lees House (named after Major John Lees whose father founded J.B. & S. Lees Ltd., steel manufacturers of West Bromwich) was converted, providing 47 study bedrooms and a one storey recreational area for overseas students and apprentices who had come to West Bromwich to work in the local industry.

1970s

YMCA Training for Life is launched to help unemployed young people. YMCA Training has supported over a million people to date.

1973

The foundation stone was laid for Cadbury House, the first YMCA purpose-built residential block with self-catering units ever to be constructed in Britain.

1984

Y Care International, the overseas development agency of YMCA in the UK and Ireland, is established.

Foundation Stone 1973

1985

Wolverhampton YMCA re-established its work in the City , where work was centered in the Dovecotes, Pendeford area of the City working primarily with young girls and women’s groups.

1992

From its beginnings in the local community and developing further work in the area around youth clubs, community groups and drug education programmes, Wolverhampton YMCA developed its first supported housing project for young people – Badger Court in 1992. Badger Court became the first Foyer project in the City developing the concept of an integrated housing and informal education scheme.

1997

The second Foyer project opened in Rugeley, Staffordshire.

1999

The diversity of work continued to expand to meet the growing needs of the people and communities. The Bridge project – a structured day programme designed to support people recovering from substance misuse, was formed in partnership with Safer Wolverhampton Partnership and Wolverhampton Primary Care Trust.

2011

West Bromwich & District YMCA and Wolverhampton YMCA merged to create YMCA Black Country Group to provide a strong base from which the YMCA could continue to provide opportunities for young people to develop in body, mind & spirit across the Black Country and South Staffordshire.

2014

2014 saw the beginning of the largest development in YMCA Black Country Group’s history. With the redevelopment and refurbishment of their site on Carters Green.

 

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Today YMCA helps over 58 million people in 119 countries worldwide, working with young men and women regardless of race, religion or culture.