About us History History The Beginning 1844 YMCA was founded by Sir George Williams – a worker in the drapery trade in London. Concerned about the welfare of his fellow workers, he started a prayer and bible study group. This soon grew and attracted men from across London. 1844-1849 YMCA begins to address other concerns of young men working in the cities. Public lectures and education classes are developed. Reading rooms and refreshment areas help young men to adjust to urban life. 1845 YMCA spreads outside London and YMCA Newcastle is established on Grainger Street. 1851 Following links made at The Great Exhibition in London, YMCA spreads across the globe and YMCAs are established in the USA and Canada. Seven years after it was established, a YMCA is formed in Boston, USA. 1855 The idea of creating a global organisation is pioneered by Henry Dunant, who would later go on to found the International Committee of the Red Cross. He convinced YMCA Paris to organise the first YMCA ‘World Conference’. The conference produces the ‘Paris Basis’ – an agreement about the aims of YMCA. It also sees the launch of an international committee and headquarters, which would become the World Alliance of YMCAs. 1873 The first YMCA holiday centre is established on the Isle of Wight. Their huge popularity led to another 25 centres being opened. Billy Butlin later adapted the idea by creating purpose-built holiday camps. 1879 The American YMCA opens its first gym. 1881 The British YMCA incorporates personal fitness into its programmes and opens its first gym. 1884 YMCA Newcastle purchases property on Blackett Street. 1891 The American YMCA invents basketball and goes on to invent volleyball in 1895. 1894 On the 50th anniversary of YMCA, George Williams receives a knighthood from Queen Victoria. Early 1900's 1900 Duke of Connaught opens purpose built YMCA on Blackett Street. 1905 The World Alliance of YMCAs celebrates its 50th anniversary. There are now YMCAs in 45 countries with a global membership of over 707,000. 1905 George Williams dies at the age of 83 and is laid to rest in the crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral. 1908 YMCA was an early influence on Scouting and the first Scout troops meet in the Birkenhead and Nottingham YMCA buildings. 1912 The first purpose built hostels are opened in Cardiff and London. 1914-1918 (WWI) During the First World War, YMCA supports the troops. YMCA huts provide soldiers with food and a place to rest on the frontline or at home in military camps and railway stations. YMCA embarks on a massive education programme for soldiers, which eventually becomes the Army Education Corps. The red poppy is introduced by an American YMCA worker and goes on to become a worldwide symbol of remembrance for those lost in the World Wars. 1916-1921 A YMCA employment department is set up in England to deal with unemployment. It finds jobs for 38,000 ex-servicemen. 1932 YMCA sets up the ‘British Boys for British Farms’ initiative which benefits 25,000 young people. 1945 During the Second World War, YMCA introduces mobile canteens, bringing refreshments to the troops. It also supports displaced people, refugees and prisoners of war. Post-war period 1959 The British Government publishes the Albermarle report about the need for better leisure facilities for teenagers. This results in many YMCAs beginning youth clubs to promote young people’s personal development. 1970 YMCA Newcastle sells Blackett Street property to developer of Eldon Square Shopping Centre. YMCA George Williams College is established in London, providing training programmes for professional youth workers. Today, the college is one of the leading trainers in informal education. 1972 YMCA Newcastle open purpose built YMCA at Ellison Place. 1970s During the 1970s, YMCA increases its emphasis on young people most in need, focusing on homelessness and unemployment. YMCA Training for Life is launched, in response to high unemployment among young people. This results in the creation of YMCA Training – one of the UK’s leading vocational training organisations. YMCA Training has supported over a million people to date. 1988 YMCA Newcastle open youth work project in Cruddas Park. 1990 YMCA Newcastle open youth work project in Walker. 1995 YMCA Newcastle open youth work projects in Byker. 2011 YMCA Newcastle opens youth work project in Cowgate. 2013 YMCA Newcastle opens youth work project in the City Centre 2017 YMCA Newcastle close Byker and Cowgate youth work projects YMCA Newcastle establishes two new social enterprises. Today YMCA has over 58 million members in 119 countries worldwide. Since it was established, YMCA has adapted to the changing needs of young people. Today it works with young men and women regardless of race, religion or culture. In every corner of the world, YMCA is helping young people to build a future.