This week (15th June 2020) is Small Charity Week, so we thought we’d highlight some of the small organisations in York making a big difference. We’ve picked one from each category close to our hearts. There are hundreds of amazing organisations here in York, so it’s a pretty tough job, but here goes:
Young People – The Island
Led by the charismatic and inspirational Nigel Poulton, and supported by an excellent team of staff and volunteers, The Island are the epitome of a great children’s organisation. They are informed by the young people they support in all of their service design and delivery; can draw on an incredible pool of local volunteers; and are forever innovating to ensure they stay topical and relevant for their young people and stakeholders alike.
Women – Kyra Women’s Project
From humble beginnings supporting a handful of female refugees to settle in the city, Kyra have grown into a critical and leading women’s organisation in York. Their services have diversified to support many more women from all backgrounds; their staff team are at the top of their game; and they’ve been able to attract and use corporate support to grow and evolve to meet need.
Homelessness – Carecent
A crowded sector in York, we could have chosen from 5 or 6 excellent organisations supporting York’s homeless community – from the awesome Kitchen for Everyone to the niche Lunar Project. But Carecent is close to our hearts after spending some time visiting Nicky and her team at their St Saviourgate base. Carecent’s breakfast club is without doubt the best used, and longest standing service in the city, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the service is for anybody in need of a hot meal and company – not just the homeless. Recent upgrades have included a shower room (how many of us take a nice warm shower for granted?) and their clothing / outdoor equipment section – lovingly tended to by a small team of volunteers – is literally keeping people alive, not just warm, through the colder Yorkshire months.
Music – Upfaders
Dan Axon of Upfaders is a bit of an unsung hero as far as we are concerned. Since 2006 he has been focusing on improving the wellbeing, increasing the confidence and bringing joy into the lives of hundreds of York’s most vulnerable young people. Working closely in partnership with York’s care organisations he provides York’s disengaged and isolated 16 – 25 year olds with a lifeline through music from DJing to song writing, guitar playing to sampling – whatever makes the young person tick. It is a long term process, resulting over time in the young people finding some purpose and self satisfaction that has been missing in their lives. They subconsciously learn life skills along the way – being on time, being responsible – building them up to get along better in life.
Equality – LGBT Forum
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the enigmatic Jake Furby from LGBT Forum on a number of occasions, and feel so passionately about an inclusive society where people aren’t marginalised or persecuted for their sexuality. Jake has helped advise me on making our Space Invaders venues as inclusive as possible. And we’ve come a long way from my late teens when there was one ‘gay’ pub in York, and discrimination was culturally ingrained. As well as organising the annual York Pride event (no mean feat!), LGBT Forum are actively making York a place where anybody can be, love and socialise with whoever they choose.
Wellbeing – Move the Masses
Move the Masses is a vibrant young charity who passionately believe in improving people’s wellbeing through movement. What’s more they make it accessible for everyone, regardless of their age or ability. Their walking buddy project providing volunteers to walk with people who otherwise wouldn’t get out of their own home, seeing people gain confidence and feel good by experiencing the joy of movement again. And they have made local outdoor exercise accessible for all with their free pop-up workouts. During Covid, their band of volunteers have delivered over 2,000 prescriptions and spent hundreds of hours on welfare calls to get essential support and medication to the city’s most vulnerable people.
Disability – MySight York
MySight York have been supporting people in our city with sight loss for over 40 years. They have a dedicated team of super-friendly, experienced staff helping people through every step of the way through their sight loss journey from counselling to recommending useful products, activities and befriending. They also have a vibrant group of volunteers enhancing the lives of many on a daily basis.
Intercultural – YUMI
York Unifying Multicultural Initiative (YUMI) is all about bringing people together, where diversity is embraced and difference is celebrated. They provide opportunities for people who have come to live in York to meet with the local community, make friends, develop confidence and feel valued members of the York community. Everyone is welcome at YUMI’s vibrant community activities; Growing and sharing food in their community garden, writing groups, exploring the city of foot. People come together with different cultural roots and languages and to share skills, learn from each other and celebrate traditions in a safe, inclusive environment.
If you’re looking for a cause to support right now, or just interested in finding out more about each organisation, click on their name above and it’ll take you to their website.
I appreciate there’s so many more organisations doing so much good stuff across our city – who are some of your favourites? Comment below!