Kirkcaldy YMCA: Charity looks to come back with a bang after successful 2022

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Kirkcaldy YMCA saw attendance at its clubs and hubs rise in 2022 – but it has highlighted food and fuel poverty as one of the key drivers behind the increase.

Looking back on the year past, Fiona Sword, chief executive, said: “Attendances at all our groups from our mental health talking cafes, to our youth groups, our outdoor play sessions, our music groups, have all increased.

“Where we’re seeing that in particular though is in groups that are geared towards food and fuel poverty. So we’re seeing things being used more than ever as people try to alleviate the issues they have at home”.

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The Community Cafe at the Gallatown hub has also proven to be a success after opening last February. It is used by community groups and members of the public, and is also able to offer kids dinners every night.

Kirkcaldy YMCA CEO Fiona Sword (Pic:  Fife Photo Agency)Kirkcaldy YMCA CEO Fiona Sword (Pic:  Fife Photo Agency)
Kirkcaldy YMCA CEO Fiona Sword (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

The Community Fridge runs twice a week from the site and has also seen more people present. And the YM was able to utilise their dedicated development worker to guide people towards the help they needed.

One of the key goals this year is more cross-hub collaboration between the sites in Gallatown and Hendry Crescent. The YM run five youth clubs from the two sites and Fiona said she is keen to see more interaction between those at each site.

She explained: “We’re doing much more cross-group work. We have the talking cafe running at Hendry Crescent and one running at the Gallatown Hub, where it’s the same project but using two different venues.

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"We are trying to increase information sharing between five youth clubs across the two sites. We’re also looking at doing a big trip with all the youth clubs, to bring young people from across Kirkcaldy together”.

Last year was also a successful year for the YM’s bands, two of which were selected to rehearse, record and release music as part of the Fife Youth Demo Project.

Music will continue to be a focus in 2023 according to Fiona. Whilst the YM’s senior and junior groups will be able to return to full activities, there is hope that the music therapy sessions can also continue the vital work they do.

She said: “These are people who are referred for all sorts of reasons, social isolation, loneliness, mental health. That’s only going from strength to strength as well”.

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“The YM was always historically known for their support of local music and it’s going to be really exciting seeing that getting put back to the forefront.

“With Covid and no live music and not being able to practise, it really had to be put on the back burner but we’re back with a bang this year.”

The YMCA has a remarkable history as a musical hotspot, with Irish musician Rory Gallagher, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and future Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and John Bonham, as part of Band of Joy, taking to the YM’s well-trodden stage at Valley Gardens.

In addition, the YM’s Hendry Crescent hub has also received funding to launch their first Warm Space, which will open next week. It is expected that it will operate three times a week and those wishing to use the space will have refreshments and activities provided.