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Leading youth charities to unite to ensure more practitioners support young people to thrive


In Spring 2022, two leading youth charities - the Centre for Youth Impact and YMCA George Williams College – intend to unite to improve the quality of support and opportunities for young people in the UK.

The combined charity will bring together leading expertise in evidence, insight and data with training and learning for practitioners working with young people. It will offer impartial and evidence-informed support to all those working with and for young people.

Between now and Spring 2022, both charities will be aligning their activity and developing a new combined strategy to build a stronger movement of quality support and improvement for those working with young people across the UK. We will spend the coming months listening to the views of youth organisations and practitioners on how the combined charity can best offer support and build evidence and insight. 

The current CEO of the Centre for Youth Impact, Bethia McNeil, becomes the Interim CEO at YMCA George Williams College. She will lead the combined charity as CEO. The current Chair of the Centre for Youth Impact, Martin Houghton Brown, is to be the Chair Designate of the combined charity. Martin has a significant history with the YMCA movement, previously serving as Chair of YMCA England and Wales. Members of the current Centre for Youth Impact Board will join the Board of YMCA George Williams College. The combined charity will be a member of the YMCA Federation.

Bethia McNeil said:

The Covid pandemic had a huge impact on young people and those who work with and for them. The pandemic has shown the significant unmet needs and inequities in our society, and our sector. Young people need quality relationships with practitioners with the right skills, right knowledge and understanding of what matters. In coming together, we will better meet this need by embedding insight into practice.


Martin Houghton-Brown said:

The Centre for Youth Impact has made great strides in building the field of evidence and insight in work with young people. By coming together with the worlds oldest and largest youth organisation, we will be better able to reach practitioners on the front line and build a stronger movement to benefit young people.


Keith Bendall, Chair of YMCA George Williams College said:

For fifty years, YMCA George Williams College has led the way in training practitioners working with young people. We recognise that training and support for the sector needs to adapt, shift and change to meet demands in our society and the needs of the workforce. This new chapter celebrates our rich legacy and secures a bright future for our mission to develop practitioners committed to evidence-informed relational practice.


Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England and Wales and trustee of YMCA George Williams College said:

Welcoming the Centre for Youth Impact into the YMCA Federation through its new relationship with the YMCA’s College will develop a partnership that increases our insight and impact in the lives of young people and communities. We are delighted that the history and vision of the YMCA George Williams College will live on.


The exact timeline for the merger is to be determined. The intent is to complete by Spring 2022, and further details on timeline will be available over the coming months.


Editors notes:

The Centre for Youth Impact was established in 2007 and works collaboratively with partners across the UK youth sector to develop shared approaches to learning, evaluation and continuous improvement. All current Centre for Youth Impact projects and partnerships will continue as planned. The existing team will transfer to the combined charity.

YMCA George Williams College was established in 1970 and provides training and support to new and existing practitioners working with children, young people, families and communities. As announced in October 2019 and April 2021, YMCA George Williams College is concluding its teaching and will have completed all planned teaching by January 2022. There are no current plans for the combined organisation to deliver a higher education degree or masters programme, but it will be developing a new programme of learning and development building on YMCA George Williams College’s experience of distance learning.

YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world. In England and Wales, local YMCAs intensively support 572,000 young people every year, ensuring each young person they meet has an opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive. As with all YMCAs, the combined charity will be operationally independent of the YMCA National Council and will work with people of all faiths and none.


To find out more about our upcoming plans, please visit our FAQs. If you would like to help influence our work and stay up to date with the latest developments, register your interest here.