Covid-19 has hit the global YMCA Movement hard, and it has hit young people hard.
Many YMCAs have had to stop doing the things they have been doing for years, and doing best: meeting people face to face, supporting them, empowering them. Many have had to close premises and activities; some have had to lay off staff.
And young people – while not the generation hit hardest by sickness – have been hit the hardest by disruptions to their education, their employment, their friendships and community life, and for many their mental health.
And yet the global YMCA response to Covid-19 – and young people’s response – has hit back just as hard.
World YMCA stepped up with its Covid-19 response strategy of ‘Resilience’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘Reimagination’ … while young people stepped up as first responders in their communities, helping each other, helping the vulnerable. We have tried to keep record of the countless brilliant things they have done.
World YMCA’s ‘Resilience’ work meant sourcing and sharing amongst ourselves how best to cope with change and disruption. We sought external wisdom, and we sought young people’s views. We staged online worship; we mobilised select groups of young people. We established a response hub to share the best of our responses – stories, best practices.
We joined our colleagues among the world’s ‘Big 6’ youth organisations, highlighting the role of young people helping their communities in the time of Covid-19, offering practical tools for communities, calling on Governments to strengthen safety nets for young people, and – at the end of the year – setting out clearly the effects of Covid-19 on young people, and making policy recommendations in areas like health, education, employment.
As a global YMCA Movement we have shown Resilience, and the need for Resilience remains as high as ever.
World YMCA’s ‘Recovery’ work saw us raise and distribute funds to help National YMCA Movements struggling due to Covid-19. We kept jobs going, and rents paid.
And we looked ahead, bringing together YMCA people from over 50 countries to look at some existential questions about how we go forward, through Covid-19 and beyond.
Those debates signaled the launch of the ‘Reimagination’ phase which will make us fit for the 21st century as the world’s chosen partner in youth empowerment. Covid-19 has brought with it many bad things, but it has accelerated change. More than that: it is an opportunity for change – for refreshment, renewal, and for ‘reimagination’ to serve young people.
YMCAs responded rapidly on multiple fronts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19