YMCA Essex is an inclusive Christian charity rooted in local communities and working with people of all faiths and people of none to meet the needs of children, young people and their families, and supporting them so they can develop and grow and achieve their goals in life.
The Christian faith basis of YMCA is expressed in the love, care and concern which staff and volunteers show to service users and to one another; reaching out to the vulnerable and showing them that they are valued and loved for their intrinsic worth, whoever they are; treating them with care and affection and not just as consumers; giving them hope for the future; helping young people believe in themselves, achieve and do great things in their lives.
At YMCA, we aim to foster an atmosphere in which children, young people, parents, staff and volunteers have the space to explore their own faith and spirituality. This involves running the organisation in such a way that we are not so hurried and busy that it leaves no room to slow down and open ourselves to that which is greater to us.
We seek to model relationships of trust and acceptance with each other and with our clients/service users. We try not to be overly regimented in terms of how we operate, or what we believe, but allow room for creativity and new ideas to flourish in a supportive and encouraging environment.
Play is important – for staff as much as it is for children and young people – so we try to give staff the opportunity to have fun, to relax, and to explore as part of their job.
We seek to be open to all – even, perhaps especially, those who are different to us. This means making time to listen to each other; again, not being so busy that we ignore each other.
We also take pride in the space that we have – collectively making an effort to keep the building (and particularly the reception and coffee bar areas) tidy, well-presented, and welcoming. This means picking up after ourselves, and when necessary, picking up after others.
We resist the urge to become a collection of cliques by co-operating with each other, and by going out of our way to work with those we might not naturally work with.
We try to build bridges rather than walls in our behaviour. We make efforts to make others feel welcomed and appreciated. We aim to be accessible to all; regardless of cultural or religious backgrounds, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability.
We also seek to have good relationships with other organisations in Essex, so that we can signpost to them, and work alongside them.
We do our best to listen before speaking. When conflicts arise, we avoid the urge to gossip or snipe. Instead, we try to confront our problems head-on – speaking to each other, and, when necessary, taking the problem to a senior member or staff.
We also try to be clear about our expectations from service users – knowing our own rules and boundaries for work with children and young people. When disciplinary procedures need to be undertaken, they are done in such a way as to restore individuals and their relationships, rather than tit for tat punishment.
We aim to be a place that is trustworthy enough that people feel they can use the YMCA to resolve their own conflicts. This means listening, being non-judgemental, but also having integrity in our interactions – being honest and real.
We do our best to be responsible caretakers of creation. We aim to reduce waste, looking to recycle what we don’t use any more (either using a recycling refuse system, or through, for example, donations to charity shops) instead of throwing it away.
We also try to make sure the materials we use and the supplies we buy are responsibly sourced – avoiding mass-production, sweat-shops, carbon footprints, and so forth.
We remember that we are not an end in ourselves, but are working towards a universal vision that includes third-world countries, the seas, and the air we breathe.