YMCA Y’s Girls mentoring programme celebrates incredible first year of delivery and sets sights on securing continuation funding


Y’s Girls, a YMCA mentoring programme specifically developed to increase the resilience and outcomes for young women and girls at risk of developing mental health issues, celebrated the success of an incredible first year of delivery last weekend and now looks ahead to secure future funding.

More than 70 young girls and their families, mentors and staff gathered at the newly opened YMCA Newark & Sherwood Activity Village for a day of activities, workshops and talks in celebration of the success of the Y’s Girls pilot, which was recently awarded Family & Youth Work Project of the Year at YMCA’s annual Youth Matters Awards.

For many in the programme, it was their first time meeting other participants from across the ten YMCA delivery sites.

Rebecca Waclawyj, National Programme Manager of Y’s Girls said:

“This past year has seen an incredible start to Y’s Girls. Our original target was to establish 250 12-month mentoring relationships across ten YMCAs in all four countries of the UK. We have achieved 270.

“This event was an opportunity to celebrate the impact these mentoring relationships are having on the girls and young women, their mentors and the wider local community.  It has also reinforced what we know – the programme is crucial and it must continue.”

The final external evaluation, conducted by the Centre for Youth Impact, found that Y’s Girls positively affects six social and emotional learning skills that are indicative of better short and long-term mental health, and that it is a young-person centred and inclusive programme, with a clear relationship between quality and impact.

Mentees from Y’s Girls say:

“I had been getting bullied quite a lot and experiencing family stuff. […] Things are really getting better. I’ve noticed within myself that I’m feeling a lot happier.” Mentee, YMCA Cardiff

“Y Girls help to show me I am not alone.” Mentee, YMCA Tayside




Having proven the impact of Y’s Girls as an effective early intervention, the 19-month pilot (made possible by generous funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), Garfield Weston and The Penny Appeal), is now seeking local and national fundraising to move from pilot into business as usual to support more young people.

If you or your organisation would like to support the next phase of Y’s Girls please visit www.ymca.org.uk/ys-girls-donate.

YMCA England & Wales is made up of 83 member YMCAs working to ensure young people have opportunities to thrive and contribute positively to their communities. These YMCAs connect almost 72,000 young people with someone to talk to or a helping hand, offering specialist guidance and practical skills to best equip them to overcome whatever challenges they may face.