Heart of England Community Foundation is celebrating six months of its ‘Building Better Lives’ programme, which originally launched back in November 2019. YMCA Birmingham, just one of the three charities funded by the programme, is using the grant of just over £1 million to fund the construction of 27 self-contained flats at its Northfield site, Magdalene Court. 

Since 2010, Government-funded youth services and resources have been cut by almost 70% and, as a result, have seen 750 youth centres close across England and Wales. Support for young people is crucial, and charities like YMCA provide this by offering them safe spaces and access to opportunities. The funding from Heart of England Community Foundation is enabling the charity to provide interim accommodation for individuals in supported accommodation who are ready to begin living more independently. 

As a major capital build programme, the Building Better Lives grants were awarded by the Foundation to causes that focused on providing suitable housing for vulnerable people. YMCA Birmingham’s Magdalene Court has ensured that young people in the city have had access to a safe space to live in for almost sixty years. 

Alan Fraser, Chief Executive of YMCA Birmingham, comments:

“We are so pleased that the first phase of the project has been completed. The demolition of the squash court has already taken place, and we have just started on site with construction of the 27 new accommodation units. This project is going to make a huge difference to the services we offer. The new transitional living spaces will be beneficial to so many individuals who are currently waiting to move out of our hostel accommodation but have nowhere to go. We cannot thank Heart of England Community Foundation enough for this amazing opportunity.”

Prior to receiving the grant, Magdalene Court offered sixty-four rooms in total and helped to house around 120 people annually. With the expansion project now firmly in motion, YMCA Birmingham is looking forward to being able to help more people in the near future.

Tina Costello, Chief Executive at Heart of England Community Foundation, said:

“It’s so great to see how the Building Better Lives funding has developed at the YMCA site over the last six months. The plans look great, and I cannot wait to see the expansion of the current facilities. The YMCA offers vital support to so many people in Birmingham, and I’m pleased that we are able to help them to not only continue with the services they offer, but also on a greater scale. We can’t wait to see their next steps with the project and look forward to continuing this journey with YMCA Birmingham.”

Building Better Lives also funded St Basil’s and Black Country Women’s Aid, alongside YMCA Birmingham. The three charities were chosen because of their unwavering commitment to provide stable and rehabilitating living conditions to those across the West Midlands who need it most. The money awarded by Heart of England Community Foundation will enable St Basils Coventry to provide 32 units of accommodation to young people in Coventry and Black Country Women’s Aid with 13 flats and a new group activity space to support women rescued from modern slavery.

To find out more about the Building Better Lives programme, as well as the other projects that Heart of England Community Foundation supports, head to the

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