13 March 2019

Derby Grammar School pupils have spent a morning with YMCA Derbyshire staff and residents learning about homelessness.

They were also honoured to plant two shrubs to mark the longstanding partnership between YMCA Derbyshire and the School.

Derby Grammar School’s Year 8 pupils are focusing on homelessness and raising awareness of the issues around sleeping rough as part of their new PSHE lessons. As part of the course, their teachers decided they wouldn’t just talk about the subject, but would help the boys to get a better understanding by taking a trip to YMCA Derbyshire’s Campus and speaking to some of the residents.

Gillian Sewell, CEO YMCA Derbyshire, welcomed the boys and gave them a brief history of the YMCA. The boys were surprised to discover YMCA is a worldwide organisation.

A trip to the YMCA allotments followed, a special place that has been developed by the residents and is now often used for baptisms and confirmations.

YMCA residents John and Simon talked to the boys about the gardens and how working together to create them, has helped them on their journey. John said: “It is really important to be together and to be outside. It creates a healthier environment and the YMCA encourage us all to come over and muck in. Creating the garden is certainly a team effort. Everyone pulls together and pools our knowledge and resources so that we can learn from one another, build a beautiful garden and grow our own produce.”

Following the allotment visit, the boys returned to the London Road base where two pupils, Oliver and James, were chosen to plant two camellias in the raised flowerbeds to commemorate the established partnership between YMCA Derbyshire and Derby Grammar School. This was a complete surprise and everyone was very touched. The camellias are marked by specially engraved plaques.

Year 8 pupil Laurie Kirk said: “I didn’t realise the YMCA was so big; it operates in 119 countries.”

Ayaan Aziz added: “I didn’t know that the YMCA staff help people with training and support them in finding accommodation.”