1994 – YMCA Bishop’s Stortford established
Discussions began about establishing a YMCA in Bishop’s Stortford in 1990 following concern about the effects of growing homelessness in the town. YMCA Bishop’s Stortford (later to become YMCA East Herts) was established with collaboration between YMCA England, local churches and government bodies.
1996 – New accommodation opens
Our Northgate End facilities opened following a successful campaign to raise money for a supported housing unit available to vulnerable young adults This contained 27 self-contained flats, an emergency crash pad, a training room for residents, a communal lounge, a laundry room, office areas and a separate staff flat.
2004 – Careers and educational advice service begins
YMCA Bishop’s Stortford passed the national Supporting People and Matrix quality assurance frameworks. We were then able to offer residents an information, advice and guidance programme to support their career and educational development. This expanded to outreach sites both in Hertfordshire and Essex.
2006 – Our five-year plan
Provision of two new communal units of supported accommodation for 16-17 year olds and access to five units of move-on accommodation via East Herts Council, annually was established. By 2006, having achieved the organisation’s initial objective, we embarked on an ambitious five-year plan.
2008 – New semi-independent accommodation
Between 2008 and 2010 we provided semi-independent five-bed accommodation in Hertford. A year later, an increase in Hertfordshire County Council funding levels enabled 24 hour support, seven days a week at the 27-bed unit in Bishop’s Stortford.
2009 – YMCA changed name from Bishop’s Stortford YMCA to East Herts YMCA
To reflect the growing number of services being offered in East Herts the Trustees agreed to change the charity’s name to East Herts YMCA
2011 – New provision for care leavers in the local community established
Working with the department of Children’s Services at Herts County Council three properties in the local community were rented at commercial rents to provide supported accommodation to care leavers / ‘children looked-after’
2011 – The ‘Reach Programme’ is launched
The ‘Reach Programme’ was established to provide mentoring for those clients and residents wanting to enter voluntary and employed positions. A new focus on enabling clients to be ‘work ready’ was prioritised (funding for the Reach Programme ended Oct 2013).
2013 – Asylum seeker accommodation introduced
This provided two five-bed properties for Asylum Seeker supported accommodation in Stevenage and a substantial increase in the provision of Careers and Educational Advice via the National Careers Service, across East Herts and West Essex.
2014 – Housing-related support contracts renewed
Hertfordshire County Council renewed housing related support contracts to 2017 and agreed a £19,000 uplift.
2015 – Careers and Educational Information, Advice and Guidance comes to an end
This ended on 31.03.15 after many years of delivering this service in Hertfordshire and Essex (2,201 sessions in the period 01.04.14 – 31.03.2015). While successfully tendering for a new contract the subsequent conditions attached created unacceptable financial risks for a charity the size of East Herts YMCA.
2015 – Provision of supported housing allocated to high risk individuals
At Herts County Council’s request a new programme was agreed to provide intensive support to two high risk ‘children-looked after’ at our properties in the local community
2016 – Renegotiation of Asylum Seeker Contract
Working with Herts County Council a new gross block contract was agreed ensuring the project remained financially viable.
2016 – Three outreach projects in the community handed back to private owners
Many years of work in the local community providing innovative support programmes for Children looked-after ended as funding priorities for Herts County Council changed. The projects were closed and the properties handed back to their owners.
2017 – Renegotiation of supported housing projects with Herts County Council
Our existing housing related support contract for the Northgate End premises in Bishop’s Stortford has been renewed to 2020. Unlike other providers, YMCA East Herts was very fortunate not to incur a 15% cut.
A new contract also agreed for the Asylum Seeker Project in Stevenage at an increased value based on a reconfigured service for 16-17 year old asylum seekers only.