6 April 2020

A letter from our Joint CEO, Gareth Sorsby:

I look back to February this year – we’d just left the EU; politics was hot on our minds and here at YMCA Exeter we were discussing the topic of homelessness with the BBC. Even thinking back to just three weeks ago and our night under the cold spring clouds with 35 local residents for our Sleep Easy event – none of us could have dreamt we’d be where we are today.
The world has changed drastically, yet the issues our charity set out to tackle are still very much alive today and amplified more than ever before.

Things like being ‘socially distant’, six weeks ago, didn’t mean staying at home doing Joe Wicks workouts with the kids, it meant someone was in desperate need of community and connection. It meant something needed to be done to change their situation.

Homelessness and all that comes with it has not been eradicated as the country has entered lockdown.

Broken family units have not suddenly miraculously mended since people have been asked to self-isolate.

Abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults has certainly not ceased since Covid-19’s introduction.

Anxiety and depression have not upped and left in the wake of a global pandemic. No, if anything they are waging war on more and more of society and increasingly on those who “had it sorted”.

So here at YMCA Exeter, young people continue to reach out to us for help with accommodation. Young people continue to seek our support as anxiety grips them with lies of what will come of them now that they’ve been unable to sit their GCSE’s. Young people continue to pour out their hearts on a willing professional, as they describe the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of someone that should have loved them. And our staff continue to bring hope, healing and a home to young people during troubling times.
In a global crisis, young people need us more than ever and we won’t give up on them.

Our team have shown great flexibility and innovation over the last few weeks; some of our services have moved online and into new, untested realms. Many of our services have had to just continue with very little change.
Looking ahead to Easter
As we move through this period of lent and look forward towards Easter, I can’t help but wonder what lessons God will, and is already, teaching us through this. More than ever as a team we have praised God for his character and his promises over us. We’ve petitioned him for so much and we have looked to him for guidance as the amount of day-to-day decision making on behalf of the organisation has literally increased 10-fold.
Throughout this pandemic I believe he wants us to trust him. He wants us to stand between this coronavirus and our young people, our staff team and their families – in prayer – taking our rightful place on the frontline of this battle, a war in which we know he has already overcome.
This Easter, our prayer for you is that you’ll know his closeness and you’ll know the closeness of your loved ones (even if it’s via zoom); and that you may contemplate the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection for your life and this crisis. Peace be with you.

Gareth Sorsby (Joint CEO)