ECHO COMMENT: Cheltenham YMCA'S work matters now as much as 150 years ago
THE year 1855 might not seem particularly significant in modern-day Cheltenham.
A meeting took place that year in the Old Town Hall which established Cheltenham YMCA, just 11 years after the organisation itself had been formed in London.
Cheltenham has gone on to be at the forefront of much the work the organisation has done to help so many people over the intervening years.
And the sad reality is that the services it provides are needed just as much today as they were all those years ago. That is why Cheltenham YMCA is now trying to raise the final £500,000 to complete a transformation of the accommodation at its Vittoria Walk base.
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If you have the perception of Cheltenham as a place that doesn’t have a particular homeless problem, think again. It jumped by 78 per cent last year - and that was on top of a 109 per cent jump the year before.
Most worryingly of all, a significant number of those are teenagers and young people. Many of those currently in long-term care at Vittoria Walk are there because of a domestic breakdown, often because they have been unable to cope with their parents’ changed circumstances and have ended up on the streets.
A £3.3 million grant has enabled work to start on the new blocks, which will provide beds for 98 people in far better surroundings.
The fact this is up from 56 says it all. It is vital the final £500,000 is found.