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General Secretary/Youth Worker (1990-5)

Weston super Mare YMCA

After applying to a range of youth organisations, Howard secured employment with the YMCA at Weston super Mare - despite many jibes from close friends that surely there were no young people in Weston!


Prior to his appointment the YMCA in Weston had been run down and had a poor reputation. Situated opposite Grove Park, at the time the main drug dealing location in the town, the clientelle were considered 'challenging' by many and the area was not a popular recreational area with parents.


The local authority was eager to see the work of the YMCA progress beyond the purely sports club image that it had developed and so Howard's appointment was primarily to rejuvenate the centre, develop a 'proper' programme of social education and youth work, and to put the association on a firmer financial footing.

During a five year tenure the following key achievements were realised;


  • full redevelopment and redecoration of the physical premises

  • a recognised programme of social education introduced and developed - to include sporting and arts-based activities as well as projects/thematic work

  • membership and attendance levels raised to record levels (500 members and 300+ weekly attendance)

  • young people's involvement in decision making introduced, including representation at board level

  • strong partnership working established with local youth team, YMCA regional team, social services and police to improve outcomes for young people

  • substantial track record in child protection/safeguarding with young people considering the club as 'the' place to be for support

  • extensive programme of activities including residential working, project work and holiday programmes

  • increased community and rental use of premises to secure income and community value - including dance groups, martial arts, sporting and special interest groups

  • computerisation of membership records and reporting of measurable outcomes

  • development of appropriate office and administrative procedures

  • cover and support to Clevedon YMCA during a period without a General Secretary - plus specific support of the new General Secretary and young people following the murder of the previous postholder after his move to Norwich YMCA

Comments received;


"Just a note to say how pleased I was to be able to attend the Annual General Meeting... I thought your Annual Report was an excellent one and very well presented, and the compliments paid to you for your work and enthusiasm were well deserved. It was very encouraging to see how much progress you had made in such a short period of time, and I congratulate you on your efforts."


Bill Sargison - YMCA South West Regional Secretary

(18 months after appointment)


"The highest praise I can offer falls short of the esteem I hold for your staff, particularly Howard Wilson, who has coped, encouraged and supported [Name Withheld] and me through a very traumatic period"


Letter to YMCA Chairperson from parent of 'challenging' young person worked with who had previously been excluded from all local schools and youth facilities and who was experiencing problems with police and social services.


"Your work with the young people from '71' has been much appreciated by the staff and the young people although they have probably tried hard not to show it! I have been very impressed with the care and tenacity you have shown them, and in providing a place that they have been able to go and know that they will be welcome."


Bob Mair, Team Manager, Avon County Council Social Services

With regard to the work undertaken with young people in local authority care.

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