About YMCA Scotland
YMCA Scotland is the National Council and voice of 29 local YMCAs across the country. It is an inclusive Christian youth organisation, open to people of all faiths and none. Each week it works to transform the lives of 10,000 children and young people, empowering them to create positive change in their lives and communities.
YMCA Scotland works alongside partners in social work, other voluntary organisations, schools, police, education and local churches. Much of its work is delivered by volunteers and each local YMCA is governed by local people who make up its Board of Trustees.
Its pillars of work are Youth Work & Education, Mentoring, Health, Family, Housing and Faith. 70% of YMCAs in Scotland provide a range of traditional youth clubs, drop-ins and street-based youth work activities. These clubs and activities are open access to all young people and are often the first point of contact between young people and youth work services. In addition, 14 YMCAs provide vital childcare, playwork and holiday programmes to over 3,000 children every week.
National General Secretary:
Scotland – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1848*Membership Status: Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1905*In 1824, David Nasmith founded a society of young men with the name: ‘Glasgow Young Men’s Society for Religious Improvement’. In 1839 a citizen of Glasgow, Patrick Gentleman started a series of classes for young people, it was called the ‘Glasgow Young Men’s Institute’, after a visit of George Williams in 1848, it took the name ‘Young Men’s Christian Association’ (extr. from: History of the World Alliance of Young Men’s Christian Associations / C.P. Shedd.- London: SPCK, 1955.- pp.10,11)
Brief YMCA History
The Scottish National Union of Young Men’s Christian Associations and Fellowship Unions and Associations’ as the national body was named, tells something of the movement’s history in Scotland. Before the name YMCA became known, there had been societies for the religious improvement of young men. The best known ones were those established in Glasgow (1824), Paisley (1832) and Greenock (1839). The growth of the movement included both the founding of new fellowship associations and unions of them, and the affiliation of those already in existence. The fellowship associations were basically religious meetings; in some places they included a wider range of activities.The first Scottish National Conference was held in 1868. In 1874 a National Executive Committee was formed and in 1880 it appointed its full-time staff member. There has never been any constitutional link with the YMCAs in England, Wales and Ireland. The Scottish YMCA pressed for 27 years for direct affiliation to the World Alliance and succeeded in 1905. The four National Councils in the United Kingdom were linked, and continue to be linked through an Inter-Council’s Committee.The effect of the two world wars and the growth of church-based youth activities has altered the nature of the Scottish movement radically. Some of the major programme activities have included special courses for school leavers and for young people in the early years of employment.