project snapshot

Supported housing redevelopment
To provide homes, training and job opportunities for young adults

THE CAUSE

YMCA Milton Keynes (YMCA MK) is an independent charity and affiliate to YMCA England and Wales. Since opening its doors in 1981, YMCA MK has provided emergency accommodation and supported housing for more than 10,000 local people aged 18-35. The charity is the only provider of supported housing dedicated to the needs of young adults in Milton Keynes.

Before the opening of its new campus, the organisation operated from a property that was difficult to manage and ill-suited to the needs of residents. Following a surveyor’s review of the options, YMCA MK decided that a redevelopment was the most cost-effective route to deliver its future vision – to create a modern facility offering high-quality, affordable homes for young people. 


Coffee break in communal kitchen


OUR SUPPORT

After years of planning and hard work, 2020 saw the opening of the state-of-the-art campus. It’s now home for up to 242 young adults, living in three stages of accommodation designed to meet different needs. Residents include young people who are homeless, those with complex needs and others seeking affordable accommodation.

Social enterprises operating on site offer opportunities for residents to gain work experience, build confidence and develop new skills, as well as generating income for the charity.

Selling surplus land assets helped YMCA MK to fund 50% of the construction costs. Grant funding from Homes England and the local authority, the charity’s fundraising appeal and a £4.4 million loan from CAF Bank raised the remaining funds required to complete the build and furnish the campus.

Following a market review and tender, YMCA MK selected CAF Bank as its preferred lender, citing our competitive terms, buy-in to the project vision and positive feedback from other YMCAs. 

“Ever since we took out the loan, CAF Bank have been interested in the project’s progress and understanding of the challenges we faced occupying the new facility and dealing with the pandemic. We would thoroughly recommend CAF Bank to anyone." says Simon Green, Chief Executive, YMCA Milton Keynes.

CAF Bank were extremely helpful and keen to make our project work. They stepped in and saved the day when another commercial lender let us down and their rates were the best when we completed a full market comparison exercise through a broker.

Simon Green
Chief Executive, YMCA Milton Keynes



THE IMPACT

YMCA MK aims to offer far more than a safe place to live for young people. Its team wants to help residents make a step change in their lives, to aim high and face the future with confidence.

During 2020-21, YMCA MK supported 300 young people living in its campus and move-on accommodation. 45 residents completed its Independent Living Skills Programme, gaining practical day-to-day living skills, and 40 young people were supported into sustained employment.

“Had I not moved into the YMCA I honestly couldn’t say where I’d be now,” explains Stephen, one of the residents.

“The support I’ve received while living here has put me in a better position and I’m more myself now than I’ve ever been. I’m a lot more focused on working and I enjoy going out to work every day. All in all, I’m much much happier.”

Simon echoes the difference the campus is making, “We’ve created an aspirational environment, attracting high calibre staff and residents who are really pleased to be here – among them trainee doctors, dance academy students and an opera singer”.

The YMCA MK’s team’s commitment to making the campus the best it could possibly be is clearly not only stamped into the fabric of the building, but supporting the residents’ future ambitions too.


PROJECT TAKEAWAYS

For other charities considering a development project, Simon has shared three learnings from the YMCA MK team’s experience:

Be bold and ambitious

“By aiming big, being adventurous and taking some calculated risks, we were able to achieve so much more. If we had held back with our ambitions, the project wouldn’t have been as successful as it has been”.

Create space for ideas to flourish

“We reached a tipping point, when the team were adding new layers of imagination to the project that we hadn’t considered before. Their ideas helped the project to take on a life of its own”.

Plan, plan, plan

“At the start, I don’t think we fully comprehended the scale of the issues and discussions involved with a development project. In hindsight, we would have invested more time at the planning phase, to prepare ourselves for the demands to come, before building work commenced”.


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