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A last gathering at the YMCA

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YMCA volunteers, friends and supporters gathered for the last time outside the historic Warrington charity doors to say goodbye to a vital service.

It proved a very emotional and sad day for some as people gathered outside the front of the former YMCA in Winmarleigh Street.

A group photograph as a lasting memory had been organised with tea, toast and a chat afterwards at the new facility, Room at the Inn. For some it was a final chance to see inside the now stripped and bare centre which since 1931 had provided a place for the people of Warrington to spend time as well as providing refuge for the towns homeless and needy.

The YMCA in Warrington began in 1855 when it was situated around the Friar Penketh area, it then moved to close to the old fish market before opening its doors on Winmarleigh Street in 1931.

During the war years soldiers passing through Warrington, on their way to distant camps, would pay a penny to spend the night before travelling on to their destinations having been fed and given a bed for the night. The YMCA had 32481 visits in 2014, 5063 health inquiries, 1924 out of hours requests for help, 1840 requests for help with mental health issues, 3842 referrals from other agencies, 258 young people needing support, 8761 requests to help with access to employment and benefits, 989 requests for help with family issues and 6848 requests for food parcels.

Despite petitions and pleas to Warrington Borough Council from the public, Councillors and the M.P. for Warrington South, Faisal Rashid, asking them not to scrap the vital £38000 grant, its cancellation was confirmed when Cllr. Russ Bowden presented the £134 million budget in March 2016. This and other financial concerns forced the friends and members of the group to fight for funding which, although initially successful proved impossible and in June this year the hard decision to shut the YMCA doors had to be taken, when they were effectively evicted from the premises.

It was a particularly poignant day for Susan Blythe who has been a huge part of the work done by YMCA in Warrington for over 30 years and she fought back the tears to welcome everyone to the event and with pride showed people around the Room at the Inn facility.

A new charity was formed by the YMCA in 2010 primarily as a night shelter called “Room at the Inn” and is situated in the former church hall of Holy Trinity church. It has 10 beds and is full most nights. In 2014 it provided over 3000 bed spaces. Its aim is to provide early intervention to prevent people from sleeping rough. It works closely with other agencies to help users of the shelter to move forward. Also a Charity Shop has recently opened in Poachers Lane in Latchford from where proceeds will directly benefit the charity.

The Y project and Room at the Inn rely on charitable donations of money, food, clothes, toiletries and volunteers time to provide their essential services to and for the people of Warrington. If you would like to give or volunteer your time to help please contact Sue Blythe on 01925 632771 or call in to the Room at the Inn centre in Winmarleigh Street, opposite the Pyramid building or drop off at the new shop in Latchford.

Live from a very bittersweet day at the former YMCA where friends of the charity gather to make a memory

Posted by Warrington worldwide on Sunday, October 8, 2017

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