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Who we are

“The Y is a lively, safe place for young people to enjoy all sorts of activities, coordinated by well-trained and enthusiastic staff. Listening to the voices of the young people, the Y offers opportunities to get involved, build confidence and have a good time.”

Chelmer Housing Partnership

The first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was formed by George Williams in St Paul’s churchyard in the heart of London in 1844. The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851 proved to be a milestone in the YMCA’s history, as publicity leaflets distributed at the time helped to develop links with other countries. The American YMCA Movement was founded in 1851, and led the way in addressing physical fitness with gym openings and a wide programme of activities. It went on to invent both basketball (1891) and volleyball (1895).

We believe the YMCA Chelmsford started in 1877 in rooms above “Bonds”, the shop more recently occupied by Debenhams.

YMCA Chelmsford moved to its present site in Victoria Road in 1927. During the 2nd World War we provided a canteen for the armed services, until around April 1943 when the new wing (built 1935) received bomb damage and the Board of Management had to find alternative accommodation until the repairs were completed.

The YMCA has continued to grow and expand the variety of programmes it has offered over the many years. In England, the YMCA comprises 121 different Associations found in most cities and towns, each of which operates as a separately registered charity, and is responsible for raising their own funds. These YMCAs are often working with people at times of greatest need. Worldwide, the movement works in 119 countries. YMCAs in England impact upon the lives of over 500,000 people every year.

Frequently asked questions

Q – What does YMCA stand for, and can anyone be involved with the YMCA ?
In the years after its founding in 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association focused on creating opportunities for fellowship, education and mutual support for young male Christians, especially those who had moved from their homes to take up work in the towns and cities of England during the industrial revolution. After exhibiting at the Great Exhibition of 1851, the YMCA grew rapidly to become a worldwide Movement, and the range and scope of our work broadened to include women and men of all ages. Today, the YMCA strives to be an inclusive Christian organisation – open to all people of all faiths and of none.

Q – How big is the YMCA?
YMCA is a Global organisation in 119 countries around the world. In England, there are 121 YMCAs providing housing, community health and fitness facilities, childcare programmes, and other training programmes to encourage, support and challenge young people to become all that they can.

Q – Where can I find out more information on other YMCA’s in England and Internationally ?
The following websites will be able to give you details of other YMCA’s in England, what facilities they provide and their locations:

YMCA England – www.ymca.org.uk
World Alliance of YMCA’s – www.ymca.int
European Alliance of YMCA’s – www.ymcaeurope.com

Did you know…?

  • YMCAs in England impact upon the lives of over 500,000 people every year.
  • Every year, the YMCA intensively supports nearly 215,000 young people.
  • YMCAs serve 530 different communities across the country.
  • Every year, volunteers in the YMCA give almost 800,000 hours of their time to help young people.
  • The YMCA enables nearly 24,000 people every year to engage in education, skills and training to enable them to improve their opportunities in the job market.
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