YMCA History

YMCA was founded in 1844 by Sir George Williams, a worker in the drapery trade in London. Concerned about the welfare of his fellow workers, he organised a prayer and bible study group with 11 friends. This Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) soon grew and attracted men from across London seeking to escape the challenges of life in the streets of London. 

Today, YMCA supports more than 58 million people in 119 countries worldwide regardless of religion or gender. 

The well-known name remains, but the work of the YMCA has dramatically changed since its inception. YMCA has adapted to meet the changing needs of young people all over the world.

YMCA through the ages

  • In 1981, Basketball was invented by the American YMCA
  • Volleyball was invented by the YMCA a few years later in 1985 
  • In 1908, the 1st Scout groups met in Nottingham and Birkenhead YMCA buildings 
  • During the First World War (1914-18), the Poppy was introduced by an American YMCA worker as a remembrance to those killed in the war

YMCA Heritage

  • The best fitness instructors qualification is a YMCA qualification
  • Youth work was started in a YMCA 
  • Life-coaching was started in a YMCA
  • The original Father’s Day was invented by the YMCA

Established in 1900, Sutton Coldfield Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) has provided support and services to the local, North Birmingham, community for one hundred and fifteen years. Since our inception, we have always been at the centre of our local community; and have built up a very strong reputation of excellence, inclusion and partnership.

Our service delivery began with the provision of a youth club in the local town hall in 1900. During the first world war we opened our doors to the troops based in Sutton Coldfield Park (Town Gate entrance) and provided them with tea, support and activities to keep them occupied during leisure time. Today we operate from our head quarters George Williams House, which is set in its own grounds and from which we deliver a broad range of services. We are an inclusive organisation, supporting young people from all faiths, and from none; we provide services to young men and women and provide a number of dedicated services for disabled young people

Each year we have contact with more than one thousand young people and deliver a broad range of support and services which engage and develop our beneficiaries. Our work is a mixture of fee paying services and free at the point of delivery provision and presently includes the following:

  • Housing: low support, affordable quality housing provision for young people
  • K-kats: youth club provision for young disabled people
  • Short breaks: during the school holidays for disabled children and young people
  • Stepping Up Project: building independence and confidence to be independent in young disabled people
  • Release Young Carers Project: range of support and respite activities for young carers (ages 5- 13) and their families
  • Upbeat Teens Young Carers Project: range of support and respite activities for Young Carers aged 14-18 and their families 
  • Upbeat Young Adult Carers: range of support and advice for Young Adult Carers aged 18-25 and their families 
  • Youth Project: Youth clubs, sports sessions and a range of support for all Young People aged 10-17 and their families 
  • Why Teens: A podcast created by Teens for Teens – Available on all major streaming services 
  • Volunteering: providing in-house and external opportunities

for young people to begin their pathway to economic participation through volunteer placements


Our support and services are delivered by a managers, lead workers, staff and volunteers. The organisation is overseen by a Board of Trustees who meet quarterly. Themed steering groups (of which there are presently finance, business, fundraising, programmes) meet bi-monthly to shape and influence the strategic plans of the organisation and input into key decisions.

YMCA Sutton Coldfield is affiliated to YMCA England, but we are an independently constituted voluntary organisation and registered charity. We are responsible for generating our own income and raising our own funds with which to operate.