Henley YMCA provides a range of facilities and activities for the community. These include housing for young people, an active living centre with a diverse set of classes, floodlit five-a-side football on a state of the art Soccer Real 60 football pitch, men and ladies senior football with provision for those with learning disabilities, plus youth events.
Henley YMCA celebrated 150 years of its transforming work with young people at a service held in St Mary’s Church on 15 September 2007.
The anniversary coincided with the appointment of Mike Ray as Chief Executive. Mike succeeded Alan Rothery, who had been Chief Executive for the previous seven years. Around the same time Angela Healey became Henley YMCA’s Housing Manager.
The YMCA in Henley was founded in 1857. Over the years, its work has been located at a number of sites across the town, providing activities and meeting places for young people as well as sports and leisure activities for the wider community.
The YMCA moved to its current site off Watermans Road on the southern fringe of the town in 1922. Alongside activities with a spiritual focus, the site has hosted youth work, football and other sports and leisure pursuits.
In response to changing needs, in the 1990s the YMCA decided to develop part of its site to provide affordable housing for young people with a Henley connection. Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Gloucester opened the scheme of 31 self-contained studio apartments and flats in October 2000.
As well as proving good quality housing, the site also boasts a football pitch, a floodlit state of the art Soccer Real 60 five-a-side football pitch and a modern community pavilion. These facilities are home to a diverse range of activities that reflect the YMCA’s mission to promote the development of the whole person in body, mind and spirit. There are exciting plans to expand and develop Henley YMCA’s work with young people and the community over the next few years to reflect ever-changing social, physical and spiritual needs.
History of the YMCA Movement & Christian Basis
George Williams founded the YMCA Movement in 1844 in London. George Williams was a young man who had come to London from Somerset to learn the drapery trade. The drapery employed large numbers of young men. George Williams held prayer meetings and bible studies in his lodgings with other young drapery assistants who, like himself, shared the Christian faith.
It was not long before the group expanded, drawing to it young men who were alone and lonely in the City of London. George Williams and his friends recognised that they should not just serve young Christians and offer them support, but they should welcome all the young people who were coming to the city. With this in mind they decided that the organisation should take the inclusive name of the ‘Young Men’s Christian Association’; they rejected the more restrictive ‘Young Christian Men’s Association’ title. This principle of inclusion remains central to the philosophy of YMCA work.
The YMCA in England expresses its membership of the International Movement by being a member of the European Alliance of YMCAs, which, in turn, affiliates to the World Alliance of YMCAs. In England there are over 130 local YMCAs, each an autonomous charity governed by a local board of trustees.
The traditional logo of the YMCA is an equilateral red triangle with a black bar and the letters YMCA running across the triangle. There are many variations of the triangle logo. The equilateral sides represent the YMCA’s mission to promote a balanced life in body, mind and spirit and to see people fulfil their God-given potential.
The YMCA remains a Christian faith-based Movement that welcomes into its fellowship those of all faiths and none, promoting: respect and freedom for all; working for tolerance and understanding; having an active care and concern for the community; and affirming the equal value of each person when caring for and working with others.
2 Lawson Road
Oxfordshire RG9 1NZ - Map
Tel: 01491 411849