„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


16th August 2019

The Campsite Fairthorne Manor near Southampton in England hosted two important events that were a part of YMCA World’s Change Agents Programme. The first was regional training for Areas (Asia and Pacific, Africa and Europe), which was followed by Global Gathering with participation of Canada and the USA Areas. These two events (28.07-4.08.2019) were held just before YMCA175 Event – celebration of founding the organisation in London in 1844.

In both events participated 122 CA and together with the trainers and guests, the group counted 140 people.  In the Regional Training of Area Europe participated 28 Change Agents from 16 countries. The training was also joint by 3 partisans from the Middle East (Lebanon and Palestine) and 2 from Africa (Liberia). They provided extra value by presenting their everyday YMCA work, in conditions and environment so different from European.

From the point of view of YMCA Europe, the Programme of CA Cohort 4 required much more staff involvement than in case of previous cohorts. That had influence on the Regional Training preparations – coordinated with WAY- as well on the programme content.  The themes of the sessions were agreed by the YE and WAY staff and covered:

“YMCA Europe Strategy 2016-2020 and Youth Empowerment Reality “-  two interactive sessions that were an overview of the most relevant aspects of the YE Strategy, with focus on: advocacy and representation, social relevance and inclusion and youth participation in movement strengthening.

“Implementation of ‘Volunteer Work Culture’" - inspiring examples of building a YMCA organisation in European communities with little NGO tradition. “Common platforms CA & YE Programme Work with European Range” – in that session were presented the key programme fields in YMCA Europe, to which the CAs might contribute. The overview included Work with Refugees, YE Camp Programme, Roots for Reconciliation, YMCA Leadership Academy and cooperation Y's Men International. “EU Programmes” - a presentation of the most popular Programmes in Europe that are directed to the youth and may be considered as fostering YMCA initiatives in its projects.

Besides that learning sessions there were activities that allowed to try and enjoy the campsite facilities. They were Team Building Activities (run by the camp competent staff) campfires and sports. All this strengthened interpersonal relationships between CA and also with the trainers.

Global Gathering had a separate programme and was led by international team of presenters and facilitator from all the Areas of WAY. That was an extension of Regional Training gave the real feeling of participation in a much bigger plan. Among the sessions were such topics as “Well-being/reflection/mindfulness (how do we show up?)”; “Cultural diversity/competency”; “Be the Change – what it means?”; “Getting Buy-in and Communicating Effectively”; “YMCA as an agile organization”. The sealing up was a panel session with key leaders WAY and its Areas.  

Judging from the approach of WAY staff (Carlos Sanvee, Adi Davis) to the programme vision, preparatory/implementation process and involvement of the YMCA leadership from the Areas, the Change Agents - Cohort 4. has opened a new chapter. It has all necessary elements to be an impactful YMCA investment in human resources on all levels and a serious contribution to the development of various kinds of programme work.


From Fairthorne all CAs moved to London to experience with YMCA175, where they could continue their experience with YMCA global work.

Photo credits: Joao Moura

Author/Source: Adam Rychlik – YMCA Europe executive secretary