The most recent YMCA Europe General Assembly was held in Madrid, Spain, this year and what a time it was! A YMCA Europe General Assembly brings together YMCA’s from all over Europe with over 130 participants attending this year from countries all over such like Moldova, Iceland, Belarus and of course, Scotland. Matthew from our YMCA attended for the first time through the YMCA Europe YES Network and from stories he has shared, it was well worth the trip.
Matthew flew out from Edinburgh on Monday the 2nd of May to join the YES network which met early in Madrid for 3 days before the official General Assembly that started that Thursday. You are by now probably wondering, what is YES and what has it got to do with the general assembly? Good question. YES is a network of young ambassadors from across all YMCA’s in Europe. Someone, sometime had the simple thought of, if we are a youth organisation then why don’t we have a youth voice in the highest levels of the movement? From that, YES was born. YES used to stand for YMCA Europe Spectrum but after the YES network meeting this year it was decided that the name is to be changed to Youth Empowerment Space, as that’s exactly what YES is. The YES network is led by a board of young people which at the time was chaired by the inspirational young leader Tinna Ros. The YES group spent the few days they had before the GA to meet and catch up with friends old and new, prepare for the GA and review the new YMCA Europe strategy for 2016 – 2020. Matthew mentioned “The YES group are a fantastic group of committed young people and the board of YES led us brilliantly. They knew YES inside and out and they worked us hard to get the most out of us.”
Part of the YES seminar before the GA included elections for new YES board. From all of us here at YMCA Perth we would like to congratulate Gerald Chifamba (England), Ashleigh Cullen (Wales) & Katerina Javurkova (Czech Republic) on being selected to lead YES as the newest board members for the next few years.
Thursday started with YES leaving the Scout Madrid hostel to meet their individual delegations waiting for them at the GA. Matthew met with YMCA Scotland and soon enough the GA was in full swing. The enormity of the YMCA and work undertaken in Europe can easily be seen by attending one of these events. Everything from big national events down to smaller local events was shared between participants there. Matthew said: “It was an amazing feeling being part of the GA. The YMCA really does care and work with young people at all levels, as shown through YES. Hearing stories from so many different YMCA’s and being able to have an open honest conversation with such people like the president of YMCA Europe or the general secretary of the Netherlands YMCA for example, just shows how open and welcoming the YMCA in Europe really is.”
More elections were held during this week but this time for the new executive committee for YMCA Europe. We would like to say well done to all nominated and good luck to our very own Mike Will from Scotland being named as the new president of YMCA Europe.
To end the week YMCA Spain had organised a night of excursions in Madrid for all at the GA. Volunteers from the Spanish YMCA organised all participants brilliantly and led everyone around the city on walking tours. The night included a Spanish dinner and a very loudly sung happy birthday to one of the young volunteers helping us during the night.
To conclude, Matthew is now our newest YES member in Scotland. He will do his best to keep us connected on a local, national and international level through his work with YMCA Scotland’s Voice group. The general assembly is to be held in Scotland next year and so we look forwarding to once again being part of such an event in our beautiful home country.
If you would like to know more, feel free to contact Matthew direct by visiting our contact page.