The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Heritage project explores YMCA Norfolk history 

YMCA Norfolk is set to launch a heritage project which will provide homeless and hard-to-reach young people with exciting and interactive opportunities to engage with local heritage and explore the varied history of the YMCA in Norfolk as it celebrates its 160th anniversary.

Thanks to a grant of £47,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Y-Heritage project will focus on researching, capturing and sharing the history of YMCA, one of Norfolk’s largest and oldest youth organisations, as it celebrates its 160th anniversary this year.

The project, which will be shaped and led by young people in or accessing YMCA’s services, will research and re-present the historical events and key moments in time that have shaped the YMCA in Norfolk and the community in which it works.

Funding will enable a project co-ordinator to be employed to support the young people in researching, compiling and displaying an interesting and informative exhibition to be hosted by Norwich Museum Services and other sites across the county.

YMCA Norfolk CEO, Tim Sweeting, said: “The young people engaging with the project will learn and develop a wide range of new skills, be exposed to new experiences and opportunities, achieve Arts Award accreditation and accomplish a long-lasting legacy for their peers, the local community and future generations.

“It will also help to ensure that the history of the largest and longest-standing youth charity in the county will be well explained, understood and hopefully celebrated by the wider community.”

The young participants will create a secure and detailed archive that will ensure that existing and future items will be kept safe, be easily identifiable and available to local heritage organisations and the wider public.

The exhibition will focus on the wider social history of the YMCA within Norfolk, giving a broad audience access to this rich history. It will include a wide range of local heritage from the YMCA’s origins in providing moral activities for young men through to varied responses to emergencies and relief work such as the Great Flood of 1912. Also included will be issues in a wider national context such as support during both World Wars through to those that were a turning point for the YMCA from providing traditional hostel accommodation and activities for young professionals to its current work supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in the county.

Oral histories will be captured from those who have been involved with or impacted by the work of YMCA Norfolk, ranging from war memories, summer camps, schools work and sporting activities to housing and homelessness and all will be invited to be involved in the project.

Tim said: “This project will enable us to properly secure an archive and provide resources and an exhibition that can be passed on for future generations creating a lasting legacy that will remember the past, celebrate today and reflect the future.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said “This exciting project is a great example of how HLF grants bring together people, heritage and communities.  Young people will play a central role and thanks to National Lottery players, the stories and memories surrounding the YMCA in Norfolk will be discovered and shared.”

For more information on YMCA Norfolk, visit www.ymcanorfolk.org

To see the job advert for a Heritage Project Youth Worker, click here.

Pictured above are a line of YMCA tea wagons and a mobile library with drivers and assistants in Chantry Road, Norwich, c1940

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