Move fast but bring the slowest along

World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee joined a meeting of Chief Executives at YMCA England and Wales on 3 November 2020.  Denise Hatton, CEO of YMCA England and Wales, spoke of the synergies between the World Alliance and many of the 120 National YMCA Movements worldwide as they approach a process of ‘Reset’ in the face of Covid-19.

“YMCA is traditionally a ‘high-touch’ culture”, said Sanvee, “because we are all about meeting young people among themselves and in their communities, bonding, and being active. And we have now entered a very different and very challenging ‘low-touch, no-touch’ Covid reality”.

He set out the impact of Covid-19 on national YMCA Movements worldwide, and the work done in 2020 under the three-part World YMCA Covid-19 response strategy of ‘resilience, recovery and reimagination’.  He said he saw different possible trajectories for YMCAs globally, depending on the depth and duration of Covid, and the depth and durability of YMCAs’ willingness to change.  “If we don’t adapt, we will go down, and if we do adapt and bring about deep systemic change, we will go up.” The challenge, he said, is to move fast to adapt to changing Covid realities, while bringing all YMCA members everywhere, even the slowest, along.  “If one part of the body is in pain, the whole body is in pain.”

Sanvee set out World YMCA’s priority actions in 2021, focussed on constitutional and governance changes to ensure agility, the strengthening of individual YMCAs in their financial and operational recovery, the global Movement’s plans to develop its Youth Led Solutions Initiative, and an ambitious plan to take its five worldwide ‘Communities of Impact’ (on Refugees and Migrants,  Employment and Livelihoods, Mental Health, Policy and Advocacy, Climate Action) to their furthest limits.

Richard James, CEO of the YMCA St Pauls Group, likened the World YMCA path to
geese flying in formation, moving together, taking it in turns to face the headwinds, to go faster and further.

Daniel Flynn, CEO of YMCA North Staffordshire,
shared an image of his offices taken on 2 November.


This rainbow, he said, reflects the theme of the 2020 Week of Prayer and World Fellowship, which is ‘Rays of hope: creating resilient communities through practical spirituality’.