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YMCA homeless centre receives royal honours

The outstanding efforts and tireless dedication of volunteers working at a homeless centre run by YMCA Black Country, has been honoured with the UK’s highest award for volunteering.

The Glebe Centre in Walsall, which provides vital lifeline services to rough sleepers in the area, as well as support for people with drug and alcohol addictions and the long-term unemployed, has been handed the distinguished Queen’s Award for its volunteering programme.

The royal stamp of approval serves as testament to the dedication shown by the centre’s team of nine volunteers, who have contributed their skills, time, energy and delivery of over 100 hours of work to vulnerable people every week.

To celebrate being selected for the award, Jane Hayward, manager of The Glebe Centre and Steve Clay, Chief Executive Officer of YMCA Black Country, represented the volunteers at the coveted Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, where they were joined by the president of YMCA in England and Wales, Archbishop John Sentamu and his wife Margaret.

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Speaking about her team of star volunteers, Jane said: “Our volunteers are invaluable; they give their time to us, often working within a challenging environment, without any expectations of recompense. We genuinely could not deliver our services without them and we are incredibly grateful, and feel extremely fortunate, to benefit from the support, skills and experience they give to us so freely.”

Steve, said: “We are so proud of our team at The Glebe Centre for their hard work and dedication. Without our volunteers we wouldn’t be able to offer this lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in the borough. It is through their time and commitment that life has been breathed back into the centre.

“The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2017 represents a tremendous achievement for The Glebe Centre, and we are immensely proud of the recognition the award represents.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the MBE for volunteer groups. It was created by The Queen in 2002 to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, recognising excellence in voluntary activities carried out by groups in the community.

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Greets Green 10th Anniversary Open Day

Greets Green Day Care is celebrating 10 years of service this year, and to mark the occasion, they are holding an Anniversary Open Day, which will be chock full of fun things to see and do. Activities include:

  • wilderness exploring,
  • messy play,
  • sensory games,
  • hook a duck,
  • cake stand,
  • tombola,
  • face painting,
  • raffle with AMAZING prizes

… and we’re even told a member of the Paw Patrol will be joining us!

There will also be special offers for anyone who signs up for the Nursery as a result of coming to the open day, so if you’ve been looking for a nursery this is the perfect time to check out what we offer!

It will be a fantastic FREE day out, with fun for all ages!

Any money raised from the day will be split between the nursery and the Glebe Centre, which provides lifeline services for rough sleepers in Walsall.



Work for us!

We have a range of fantastic opportunities to join our team here at YMCA Black Country. We work with hundreds of children and young people across the Black Country region. We help young people to achieve their potential in every area of their lives, helping them to become thriving, flourishing adults who contribute to their communities.

Our current vacancies include:

Participation Worker (Badger Court, Wolverhampton)

Nursery Practitioner (Greets Green Day Care, West Bromwich)

Flexible Nursery Practitioner (Greets Green Day Care, West Bromwich)

Cook (The Glebe Centre, Walsall)

Participation Coordinator (Wolverhampton)

Key Support Worker (Wolverhampton)

Please get in touch if you have any queries. To download an application pack, please visit our jobs page here.


Host Appreciation Awards 2017

Friday 28 April saw more than 45 Hosts from our Open Door Project attend Walsall Council Chambers to be presented with awards to say thank you for their hard work and dedication to the young people they have taken into their homes.




The Mayor of Walsall presented the Hosts with their awards after project workers read out comments from the team and from some of the young people they had hosted.


The evening had been sponsored by into Merry Hill, who also attended and spoke about how inspired they had been when hearing about the project. Their generosity meant that the hosts each received a beautifully etched glass award, and they also provided three incredible raffle prizes – 2 £75 gift vouchers and 1 £150 gift voucher.




Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South was also present for the evening, after having met with a young person and Host from the Open Door Project previously. He rounded off the evening, talking about the compassion, kindness and generosity of the Hosts – who have taken young people into their homes and given them a second chance at the start they deserve.

Rowena Wilding, YMCA Communications and Community Relations Officer, who compered the evening, said:

“We are so proud of all of our Open Door Hosts. They give so much of themselves to the young people who stay with them, and it was truly inspiring to hear about all the good they do. We heard about successes and challenges, about perseverance and patience, about kindness and compassion. But the words that will stay with me came from one young person’s message to their host: ‘Thank you for helping me to be the best version of me that I can be.'”


A fantastic night, for a fantastic group of people who deserve to be celebrated. Well done to all involved, and huge thanks to all who attended, and thanks especially to Rachael Taylor, the Mayor of Walsall, intu Merry Hill, and Mike Wood MP.


Why Volunteer? The Glebe Centre

20170216_110628_1492724147569The Glebe Centre, Walsall is an incredible provision for the homeless community and supports people with issues around substance misuse, homelessness, mental health and unemployment. It is run by Jane and a tireless team of volunteers. We caught up with Karen, one of the Glebe’s amazing volunteers!

Why do you volunteer here?
I’ve been volunteering at YMCA BC for 5 years – I started off at Hi’s N Lows at St Pauls Church in Walsall. The woman that ran the charity was an old school friend. I asked if she had any volunteering opportunities and she threw me in the kitchen there! I was trained to do the needle exchange, I cooked hot meals, helped people with benefits forms, learned how to help them with their issues.
I honestly love it. Their lives are so chaotic and the system is so stupid – a fully functioning person struggles to understand the system, so how are people whose lives are so chaotic and messy supposed to manage?

I don’t think that people really understand the level of other people’s issues. There are people who think “Well it’s their own fault for turning to drugs or alcohol” but you can’t know what options that person had in the first place, what led them down this path. The night shelters that we run – people think of night shelters and think of beds and blankets, but in reality, the service users sleep on the floor, and they get a blanket if there are enough. It’s nobody’s first choice on where they want to be in their life. It’s an eye opener.

What’s the best thing about volunteering at the Glebe?
Building up a relationship with the service users, and, after 5 years of doing this, seeing the positives. This week a girl came in who has been in and out of prison, a heroin user, and she’s now really settled, even off her methadone. She’s doing really well and looks so healthy – it’s those moments, those successes that make it all worthwhile.
Sometimes it can be frustrating, trying to help someone who simply can’t get there – it’s such a big mountain in front of them and taking that first step is so hard, especially when there are people half way up the mountain trying to push them down or blocking their way.

How has volunteering changed you?
I’ve a lot more patience – you have to learn to let things go over your head and not take them personally, otherwise the job would turn you to jelly. I think I’m a strong person – I’m a single mum to 3 kids – but you have to be so strong to be here week after week.

What’s the hardest thing about being here?
Seeing how low people can get – and the ones that don’t make it.

If you could change anything about the Glebe, what would it be?
In an ideal world I’d have the night shelter open every night (without it running at a loss). It would also be nice if there was someone from housing here more regularly or even to be trained in the housing side of things – there’s so little housing around Walsall, and so many people won’t leave the area. I wish I could help.

Why should others volunteer?
Everyone has their own reasons for volunteering – maybe because they’ve been in the situation themselves, so they know what it’s like, or maybe because they can just see how lucky they are. Personally I think everyone should volunteer at some point, because you’re not getting anything out of it, and it does make you a different person, to give something without getting something in return.


“Work in Progress” research backs Apprenticeships

YMCA Black Country backs new national research that shows apprenticeships boost young people’s career prospects


YMCA Black Country Group has spoken out about the positive impacts of apprenticeships as new research is released today that shows four in five young people would recommend them to others and more than three quarters say they have improved their skills and career prospects.


Work in Progress – a report released by YMCA ahead of the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy that will help secure funding for three million apprenticeship starts over the course of this Parliament – showed that young people overwhelmingly backed the benefits of a vocational route into work.


YMCA Black Country Group, which runs the visionary Talent Match Project, helping young adults across the Black Country into education, training and employment, said young people should be made aware of the positive benefits of an apprenticeship, to help them in their career choices.


In fact, almost four in five young people (79%) who took part in the research said they were offered a job at the end of their apprenticeship while more than three quarters said it helped to improve their responsibilities (77%), satisfaction (78%) and salary (81%) when in the workplace.

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However, despite the positive prospects they afford, young people also highlighted to YMCA a number of concerns around apprenticeships, including the perception of them as a second class route to work with less than one in four (22%) receiving information on them from teachers and lecturers.

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Young people also spoke of the difficulties they had covering basic living costs while on the schemes as well as coping with work-study balance. YMCA found that many had no choice but to study at home and on weekends during their apprenticeship due to a lack of time in core working hours.

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Steve Clay, Chief Executive of YMCA Black Country Group, said:


“Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to earn while they learn the necessary skills needed for today’s job market and they are a positive experience for the majority.

“Not only do they prepare young people for the workplace, but they also provide effective routes into employment. Working with hundreds of young people each year, we have seen first-hand how learning new skills can boost young people’s overall confidence and set them up for a positive future.

“However, while we welcome the Government’s focus on investing in the value of apprenticeships, we believe there is still room for improvement.

“Young people need better careers advice in schools to open up further options to them, a more realistic work-study balance that protects them from exploitation and improved support from employers to help them afford basic living costs. By putting these provisions in place, more young people will rightfully see apprenticeships as the progressive option our research has proven them to be.”


More than 400 young people with experience of apprenticeships aged 16 to 26 years old and from across England and Wales fed into Work in Progress. Other findings include:


  • Almost two thirds of young people (63%) were left to search the internet to find out about apprenticeships.
  • More than a third of young people (34%) felt more could be done to improve the amount of support and advice available prior to undertaking an apprenticeship.
  • A third of former young apprentices (34%) said they would have liked to have spent more time studying while almost a quarter (24%) said they found it difficult to balance study and work elements of their apprenticeships.
  • Just over one third of young people (35%) said the salary they received while on an apprenticeship was enough to cover basic living costs.

For more information, visit: http://www.ymca.org.uk/work-in-progress


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Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night


We are excited to announce that the incredible Francesca Millican-Slater will be giving a writing workshop AND a performance of her 5 star show ‘Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night’ at our Western Gateway site!

Dreamlike and darkly humorous late night stories of love, connection and pork pies. Having played to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival, don’t miss this amusing and gripping collection of short, quirky tales that is reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s stories for adults. Critically acclaimed writer and performer Francesca Millican-Slater brings her Stories To Tell In The Middle Of The Night to Western Gateway for just one day! And the best bit… it’s FREE!


Before the pe16463069_10155116542908678_2460766565547244974_orformance, Fran will also be giving a Writing Workshop– Creating stories from found objects.  

Participants will be asked to choose a photograph or postcard from a selection brought in by Francesca. Using these images and texts as a starting point they will look at different ways of creating stories and characters through research, talking and writing exercises with a view to creating a  short piece of writing by the end of the workshop.  The participants can choose whether they would like to share these with an option for Francesca to read them if preferred.


Event: Francesca Millican Slater’s Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night
Where: Western Gateway, Carters Green
Date: Tuesday 7 March
Time: Writing Workshop – 2.30pm, Performance – 4.00pm
Cost: Free16402790_10155116542193678_9013002843025686016_o





If you’d like to book a place, please fill in the form below.

  • Price: £ 0.00 Quantity:
    A workshop with Fran Creating stories from found objects
  • Price: £ 0.00 Quantity:
    Performance of Fran's hit show Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night


Reviews of Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night:

★★★★ “Keeps us spellbound” – What’s On
★★★★ “Thoroughly recommended” – The Reviews Hub
★★★★ “Atmospheric…stories expertly delivered” – The Stage
★★★★ “Beautiful…weird and wonderful storytelling” – Arts Award Voice



Sunny and Shay visit Talent Match

Last week we were delighted to welcome Sunny and Shay of BBC Radio WM to Temple Street. They came to visit the brand new, redeveloped Talent Match Hub, and did their show live from our building! There was an incredible atmosphere as the show was taking place, and Brenda, Sharlie and Phil did a fantastic job of telling the West Midlands about the opportunities available through Talent Match.

Brenda talked about how unique the one to one mentoring and tailored support offered through the programme is, and Sharlie spoke passionately about how Talent Match can help even the most disillusioned young adult to reach their potential. As well as hearing from some of the young mentees of the programme, the team also played ‘The Knowledge’ live on air (of which Phil was eventually the victor, after a very tight competition!).

But that wasn’t all! The very next day was the official launch of the Hub, and brought with it an entire day of activities, including a DJ workshop, a gaming competition, and cupcake decorating. MP Rob Marris dropped by to cut the ribbon, and chat to the staff and young people on the programme. It was another fun packed day, full of laughter, and the family feel that encompasses the Talent Match team.

If you are aged 18-29 and aren’t in education, training or employment, get in touch with the Talent Match team – they offer tailored support to help get to where you want to be in life.

If you’d like to join the Talent Match family and feel like you have something to offer to young adults trying to reach their potential, we are currently recruiting 3 Talent Match Mentors. For more info, click here.

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Open Door’s Intu Host Appreciation Evening

We are very excited to announce that our Open Door project will be holding a Host Appreciation Evening on Friday 28 April at Walsall Council Chambers.

The Open Door project supports vulnerable teenagers by placing them with volunteer host families in the community. Operating across the Black Country, it is the largest Supported Lodgings and Nightstop scheme in the country. Last year, Open Door’s Host families provided almost 20,000 bed nights.

The Host Appreciation Evening, sponsored by Intu Merry Hill, will be an opportunity to say thank you to the amazing people who volunteer with the scheme to give vulnerable young people the chance they deserve in a supportive atmosphere. They will be awarded with certificates and personalised engraved awards, and enjoy a buffet and drinks throughout the evening.

Huge thanks to Intu Merry Hill for sponsoring the event and helping us to give a truly special evening to a truly special group of people.

For more information about our Supported Lodgings or Nightstop schemes, or to find out about becoming a host, please contact Rachael Taylor on rachael.taylor@ymcabc.org.uk.




A Massive Thank You!

As ever, we are completely bowled over by the generosity of the community around us. We are so grateful for all the donations we receive.
We want to say a massive thank you to:20170109_104851
  • Common People, Pelsall
  • Carole Small, family and friends
  • Pelsall Slimming World
for their kind donation of toiletries, towels, bed linen and other useful items for our residents at our Housing Project in Walsall.
We also owe our gratitude to:
  • Park Inn Hotel, West Bromwich
  • Harvester, West Bromwich
  • Tesco, New Square West Bromwich
  • Village Inn, Dudley
  • Quality Hotel, Dudley
  • Cats Whiskers Charity Shop
  • Creative Academies

Who sponsored the amazing Christmas Community Event at Western Gateway. We were able to offer prizes including a hotel stay, meals out, chocolate hampers, and lots more.

Thank you everyone who supports our work here at YMCA Black Country – without your help, we wouldn’t be able to offer the many services we do. You are all fantastic!



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