Running to raise vital awareness and funds for Ripon YMCA

James Parkes.
James Parkes.

For over 100 years Ripon YMCA has been a lifeline for homeless young people in the city, and now the chair of trustees is raising funds to shape the charity’s exciting future.

Combining two of his biggest passions, James Parkes, who is a member of the Ripon Runners, is taking part in the Snape 10K race to support the Ripon YMCA.

The money raised by James will go towards updating the charity’s supported accommodation and community facility.

One of the biggest challenges for Ripon YMCA is raising awareness of homelessness in a city where there are not as many people visibly living on the streets.

James, who has been on the board of trustees for three years, said: “Homelessness is not as visible here as it is in big cities.

“The biggest challenge can be moving people away from seeing it as only physical homelessness, when there is a lot of sofa surfing and young people find themselves with nowhere they can call home, and they are extremely vulnerable.

“We try and address some of their vulnerabilities, whether that’s from parents splitting up, chucking young people out, or saying they can’t cope with them anymore, to alcohol, drugs or mental illness. There is a spectrum of vulnerability.

“Anyone can find themselves homeless and in this situation.”

Ripon YMCA provides supported housing for 16 to 35 year olds, and young people can stay for up to two years, with support in accessing training, education and employment opportunities.

The team of staff and volunteers work hard to help young people reach the point where they feel ready to move on from the service to live independently, but there can still be barriers making it difficult for them to take that next step.

James said: “Housing is expensive, particularly in Ripon and the Harrogate district, so finding affordable housing when young people are ready to move on to their own accommodation can be difficult.

“Ripon YMCA has a multi-agency approach where we link up with different organisations for young people to access support.

“I hope that through doing the 10K, I can encourage people to think about Ripon YMCA when they are doing a fundraising event.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ripon YMCA, Lucy Gratton, said: “We see young people who are homeless through no fault of their own, through so many different circumstances.

"I just hope that we can make a difference to these young people.

“One of the most exciting things for me is that in Ripon, as well as it being a friendly, small place where people are keen to donate and support with fundraising, it also has so many businesses and potential work placements for homeless young people.”

The charity will be hosting a business breakfast on September 22, from 8:30am to 10am, for local business people to find out about how they can support Ripon YMCA.

The board of trustees is also looking for new members who have worked in the voluntary sector, with young people, work for a local business, or have legal experience.

To sponsor James as he runs the Snape 10K for Ripon YMCA, visit his JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-parksie