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A farewell letter from our CEO Karen Deverell

30th March 2019

25 years ago I stepped into a hut at the bottom of the Wells Blue School playing fields as the new part-time Advice Worker for YMCA Mendip.

I was to work with care leavers leaving care and my role was to help them find a home and support them in all that living independently entails.  Emergency Accommodation with families had just started and I was also supporting those referred from the local authority as homeless.

Today is my last working day for an organisation that has been my world for the past 25 years!  I am filled with nervous excitement, have I made the right decision? Will I miss being “in charge”? What will life be like without the YMCA?

I have listened to leaders from other organisations throughout the years and understand those good leaders know when it’s time to go and should act on this – I feel the time is right for me.

I was keen for us to achieve Registered Provider Status, to build a new Senior Team and then to hand my notice in. I recommended to our Board that we look to merge with YMCA Bath. I was committed to ensure the organisation was passed on in good shape, fit to move forward and ready to take up future challenges and opportunities.

As CEO I have been committed to the organisation and had the feeling that I was in part, custodian of the organisation for just a snapshot in its long amazing history.
Developing and strengthening it over many years to ensure is sustainability has been a joy. To ensure that it is able to serve its community, particularly the vulnerable for years to come, has been my goal. To do that in a way that is about providing a quality service to each individual that we welcome has been important, doing the job well to ensure we make a positive, transformative difference.

I have greatly enjoyed working in partnership with many many organisations over the years. The YMCA is a youth and community organisation and so many wonderful individuals and organisations within our community have helped to shape and build the YMCA, thank you so much.

I have always been and will continue to be absolutely committed to trying to make a difference to those in our community who are vulnerable.  For many of us, the transition from child to adult is difficult, confusing and for those we work with, this is often amplified due to past experience, and often, detachment from those they love. The work has undoubtedly fulfilled a need in me to help, do something that I feel is important, that matters. I have become a Foster Carer and I know that the skills and experience I take from the YMCA will help equip me in this role.

I know what it’s like to be on the other side of difficult behaviour when you are trying your very best for an individual, the following popped up on Facebook this week:

“The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving of ways”

To finish, to the wonderful staff of YMCA, I consider you my heroes:

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.
It’s easy to share responsibility,
It’s easy to say “it’s not my child,
Not my community, not my world,
Not my problem”.
Then there are those who see the need and respond.
I consider those people my heroes

With my love and best wishes,
Karen Deverell