YMCA DownsLink Group is the biggest youth charity in Sussex & Surrey

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Every year we support over 10,00 children, young people and their families - transforming young lives. We work to tackle the causes of youth homelessness and give young people in crisis the opportunity to create a brighter future.

2020 was a tough year for us all, but, for already vulnerable young people, the impact of COVID-19 was dramatic. As the largest youth homelessness charity in the South-East, we saw a staggering 61% increase in the number of young people presenting as homeless compared to the previous year.

2019/2020 in Statistics

10,800

young people accessed our services

763

homeless young people provided with a safe home every night

3,142

people were supported by our counselling services

71%

of the families seen by the Family Mediation Service stayed together, reducing youth homelessness

62%

of our residents were helped back into education, employment or training

78%

of our young people, living in supported accommodation, moved on successfully to independent living

For young people there were also additional family pressures caused by lockdown, so family breakdown became the number one cause of youth homelessness. Despite the challenges, we continued to deliver our vital housing & support projects, and adapted our counselling and advice services to ensure we could still help all young people in need, to belong, contribute and thrive in our local communities.

“Just walking through the doors of the YMCA and seeing the staff and the residents and having banter with them and talking to them. It’s just like having a home away from home and having a sense of family. I think you can’t really put a price on that…”

YMCA DownsLink Group Resident

How our work makes a difference

Sherylee’s story

Sherylee moved into YMCA Worthing Foyer struggling with instability. Through hard work and perseverance, she is now thriving and has just released her first EP!
Kara's Story

Kara’s story

Changes in Kara's behaviour at school were causing concern. Counselling with YMCA Dialogue helped Kara identify and express her feelings, letting light into a dark period in her life.
Jack's Story

Jack’s story

Jack came out as gay when he was 15. His family struggled to accept it and it caused tension and arguments at home. The situation came to a head when Jack was 16. After a huge row his Dad threw him out.

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YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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