Karen Deverell served the YMCA in Mendip and South Somerset for over 19 years as CEO and left us at the end of March for a career change into fostering.
Karen’s vision and recommendation to the trustees of YMCA Mendip was that they should look into the possibility of a merger with YMCA Bath Group; an opportunity for two YMCAs with complimentary skills and ethos to combine into a single, stronger YMCA, to be more sustainable and to better serve our local communities. This was back in November 2017 and Karen worked a long notice period to support this vision.
I have been the CEO of YMCA Bath Group for 16 years now and have always worked closely with Karen and the YMCA next door.
These are exciting times as both trustee groups have agreed we should merge, a case of two successful YMCAs coming together positively. While the legal merger will follow, likely to be 31st December this year, the two YMCAs are being run together with myself as CEO, a combined senior leadership team and the trustees meeting together in a “board of common interest”.
It’s been an absolute privilege to get to know so many of the Mendip and South Somerset staff, volunteers and stakeholders during the last two years and to plan together how to combine the best of each YMCA.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is very little overlap of geography, programme areas or staff teams. YMCA Bath has a number of sustainable social enterprises across Bath, Bristol and Wiltshire while Mendip and South Somerset are commissioned to deliver programmes around the housing, care and support of vulnerable young people, as well as significant voluntary funded youth work programmes across each district.
So the merger is very much a case of business as usual and while all this YMCA work will now come under the same governance, everything will be rooted in local communities and will still use local YMCA names. Our work is hugely reliant on the often small sums of money raised within each community. None of that will change – in fact I believe we have an even more compelling reason you may want to support us financially. Most of our central costs are covered by commissions or social enterprise surpluses, so every £10 given will go straight to the local work you probably want to support.
I’m really keen to be in contact with everyone who is connected with YMCA work locally (or would like to be) so please do let me know if there is anything else I can do.
(YMCA Bath Group & YMCA Mendip & South Somerset)