YMCA Birmingham’s flagship development in Erdington was officially opened by The Princess Royal on May 18th 2016.
The multi-million pound project, which has been ten years in the making, comprises four separate elements.
Phase 1 saw the completion of The Orchard – 83 supported accommodation flats in 2010 – along with staff offices and a training kitchen. The Coppice came next hosting a nursery and conferencing rooms in late 2011, and now The Vineyard and Chris Bryant Centre, a community sports hall and conferencing facilities, have finished the development in 2016.
The brand new ‘move on’ accommodation at The Vineyard is aimed at young people who want more independent living, but who can still access all of the training that the charity offers. It comprises 34 affordable self-contained flats, complete with a kitchen and en suite bathroom facilities. Also on the site is a new community coffee shop (Eden – more than coffee) that runs as a social enterprise scheme, employing YMCA Birmingham residents and people from the local area.
Alan Fraser, CEO of YMCA Birmingham “Today has been a great day for YMCA Birmingham, since its inception in 1849 we have become an established part of the social fabric of Birmingham, much like the British Monarchy. We are honoured that our work has been recognised by the Royal family which inspires us to keep providing valuable and essential housing support, training and spiritual guidance for not only our service users but also for the local community.”
The opening of The Vineyard, and The Chris Bryant Centre, the final phase of this ambitious building project, comes seven years work first started on the site in 2009. The impressive architecture is a far cry from 86 years ago in 1920 when YMCA Birmingham was first affiliated with the site, after Dudley Road Hospital donated old huts for the charity’s use.
“None of this would have been possible without the continuous support from our staff, volunteers and donors. In particular the late, great Chris Bryant (after whom the Chris Bryant Centre is named) and who bequeathed £200,000 to YMCA Birmingham to help us continue helping those in need of vital accommodation and support. This is a proud moment not only for YMCA Birmingham but also for our city which struggles with providing affordable housing for young people. Our focus is getting them into a safe environment, into to work and equipping them to lead a full life.”
The project is also being supported by a loan from Charity Bank, the ethical bank which lends to charities and social enterprises. Charity Bank Regional Manager Peter Hughes said,
“Charity Bank is delighted to have provided a loan contributing to the development of this outstanding new site. YMCA Birmingham has an extraordinary track record of helping homeless and at-risk young people to realise their potential and work towards a better future. The Vineyard site recognises that this transformation takes more than a safe place to sleep at night and supplies the training and mentoring required to build self-worth, drive and confidence.”