1 October 2021

YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world, and whilst we celebrate Black History in the month of October we make inclusion, equity and diversity part and parcel of the way we work and deliver our services throughout the year.

This Black History Month, we invited both black and white colleagues and also residents to share their perspectives and stories of what they are ‘proud to be’ following the theme for this year. Also following a series of equity, diversity and inclusion training that we are rolling out across our whole organisation, what impact this had on them. These are a few of the stories that were shared:

Lisa, YMCA housing scheme officer


Why I am PROUD to be Black is our determination, dedication, will power and longevity. We do not give up regardless of what we have to endure, come against and any setbacks just pushes us closer to our goals regardless of what others may think.

We are doctors, we are lawyers, we are bankers, we are CEOs, we are owners of arts museums, we are architects, we are biochemists, we are engineers and scientists. We are intelligence officers, we are judges, we are mobile app developers, we are optometrists, we are quantum physicists. We are formula one 7 times world champion drivers. We are all these things, but people only see the negative.

Being at YMCA allows me to interact and engage with others hearing their stories, seeing how their determination pushes them to reach their goals and with my support and guidance they can see I have their best interest at heart. My faith, embodies who I AM; my values and qualities enable me to maximise their potential. That gives me purpose, working at YMCA and being Black and PROUD.

Outside of YMCA I do street police watch. I am proud to do this and proud to be black as this allows me to be approachable to helping others in the community. Encouraging them to not be afraid but to see me, a black woman, as a person they can reach out to and speak about what is going on in the community, to get the help they deserve. I AM confident, I AM vibrant, I AM unique, I AM fearless.


James, resident YMCA Heart of England


Florence, Housing support

I’m proud to make a difference in the lives of young people and families in Coventry.


Melanie Gallivan, Head of HR


I’m proud to work for an organisation that is fully committed to equity, diversity and inclusion across both the services that we provide to young people and throughout our workforce.  The training we are offering to all of our employees and volunteers shows that this will never be a “tick box” exercise for us – we are providing a safe space to share and learn from each other’s perspective and lived experiences.


Laurence Chilver, Director of Learning and Communities

Our recent equity, diversity and inclusion training helped us understand the different life experiences people have had simply because of the colour of their skin, in such a powerful and moving way. Our sessions were deeply insightful and often challenging, and I believe the training will form a foundation from which our staff can make a personal choice to consciously seek to remove unconscious bias’ and unfair privilege from our society.


Harry, resident YMCA Heart of England