A BURTON charity has been celebrating 170 years since its foundation by opening three new flats for its homeless people.
The accommodation has been made possible by tireless fund-raising by Burton and South Derbyshire people, who have often had to sleep rough through the charity’s annual sponsored Sleep-out.
Paul Laffey, Burton YMCA’s chief executive, used the opportunity to gather dignitaries and other supporters to an official opening on Friday which coincided with the charity’s 170th birthday and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
He said: “This is a momentous day for the YMCA across the globe, as we celebrate our 170th anniversary of the foundation of the movement.
“We also remember that it is a special day for citizens across the world as we also commemorate D-Day’s 70th anniversary.
“The YMCA played a major part in supporting troops and war efforts particularly in the First World War. A total of 200,000 hot drinks were served weekly in YMCA centres behind the firing line, relatives of seriously wounded men were entertained free of charge in the YMCA hostels at every hospital base in France and YMCA libraries provided hundreds of thousands of books in camps and trenches.”
He added that following the founding of the YMCA in 1844, the YMCA has grown to be a worldwide organisation that reaches out to 58 million people in 127 countries.
He said: “That has led to YMCAs providing just fewer than 10,000 beds for young people every night of the year, a place to cal home where belonging in a family home is not an option.
“With the many challenges still being faced by young people and families, it is clear that the work of the YMCA is needed as much today as when it was founded in 1844.”
Previously, the YMCA held Sleep-outs to raise money to build its training and support centre, Reconnect, in James Street, Burton, and since the first successful event in 2009, four more Sleep-outs have taken place raising thousands of pounds to help and support people who have found themselves without a home.