YMCA Bedfordshire set to make an Impakt with name change
After decades of work in the community, one of Luton’s biggest charitable group is changing its name, as it looks to expand the work it does
From April 1 the YMCA Bedfordshire will become Impakt Housing and Support, after leaving the YMCA England and Wales federation.
The change has come about as the group grew their work to encompass areas outside those traditionally supported by the YMCA, the UKs leading youth charity.
While the name may be changing, the mission is not – and after one of the most difficult years in living memory that mission is more important than ever before.
The independent charity was set up back in 1986s to cover Bedford, initially working to provide emergency housing in one property housing 27 people.
Since then they have expanded to provide services across the wider region, and now work across eight properties providing housing support to more than 200 people.
They have also created a number of different services, from supporting children’s education to providing fresh food to families in need, to helping with training and skills.
Now they hope to bring all of their work under the Impakt banner, as they continue to grow and expand the help they can provide the communities they serve.
Homelessness has historically been a massive problem in Bedford and Luton with both towns featuring in the top 10 for homeless figures for many years.
However with the national “Everyone In Campaign” coming into force since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 there has been a dramatic fall in those rough sleeping as local hotels opened their doors to provide safe accommodation. With the drive to make sure homeless figures don’t go backwards and people receive the ongoing support they need IMPAKT Housing & Support are helping spearhead the creation of additional housing schemes.
In the last five years the reliance in the UK on foodbanks to stop families starving has become a vital part of life. The service provided by Impakt Food is a little different, but no less necessary.
Their ‘food larder’ was set up as part of a drive to stop usable food going into landfill and impacting the environment. It takes food that has gone by its display by date and distributes it to people in Bedford, with anyone able to use the service.
And last year it saw a huge rise in people looking for food, and focused a lot more on people facing food poverty– work with food banks to deliver fresh food to help provide a more rounded diet.
Their food is donated from local supermarkets, and charities such as Fair Share, as well as local businesses. During lockdown for example, when the local Nando’s couldn’t open they donated 500 chickens which were distributed in the local area.
From 2019 to 2020 they went from seeing 120 people a month to 120 people a week, and last year fed almost 25,800 people through the service, and diverted 100.5 tonnes of food from landfill
Run in their buildings the skills strand is an internal programme that provides training and advice to help people get back on their feet. It can cover everything from specific skills to budgeting, healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing, supporting clients to overcome debt, and even small things such as how to change a lightbulb in a property and how to work to build a constructive relationship with neighbours.
Impakt Domestic Abuse housing and outreach
The group have also worked to combat domestic abuse, and found it is an area where demand for their services has increased during lockdown, with more and more men and women from same-sex and traditional marriages and relationships all coming forward in need of support.
With two women’s refuges already within their portfolio of services an outreach service was established in 2018 which specifically works to support those facing domestic abuse.
We deliver services that support people escaping abusive relationships - both in the wider community and through housing in refuge, to provide individuals and families with a safe place to call home.
People often present to our services at a point of crisis, fleeing with few or no possessions. Our experienced domestic abuse teams help clients to move away from the abuser at the earliest opportunity and provide the emotional and practical support they need to help smooth the transition.
We work in partnership with other agencies to provide a coordinated, wrap around package of support tailored to individual needs and aspirations. Using a trauma informed approach, we empower individuals to discover their own strengths and to build the resilience and skills that will enable them to live independently and free from fear.
Impakt Young People
Currently this project only runs in Bedford, but is one they hope to expand across other local areas soon, Impakt Young People supports 5 - 16 year olds. It currently works with 50 schools to support children who are on pupil premium, and aren’t able to pay fees for after-school clubs and activities.
They offer free places for children to access after school clubs and take on a range of challenges and activities. And to ensure it is inclusive, and doesn’t see friends split up because of financial differences, it is open to all pupils, so friends can stay together as equals, enjoy and grow together.
The charity has also been running a shop in Bedford selling up-cycled furniture and recycled items, and which is also used as a training project for residents to teach them skills, while the products are sold.
To find out more about the work of Impakt Housing and Support, visit their website here.