Into the Spotlight, sponsored by Huddersfield-based Scriba PR, is a weekly business feature – online every Thursday – which highlights lesser-known businesses that generally go under the radar. Here, we highlight local charity, Yorkshire Children’s Centre (YCC).
Situated in the heart of Huddersfield’s town centre, YCC’s HQ can be found in Brian Jackson House – a converted railway goods warehouse which, in a previous life, was once used as an exam room overflow for Huddersfield University.
The charity – and its mission – has changed significantly over the years. Originally founded in 1974, by Brian Jackson, YCC – then named National Children’s Centre – was a not-for-profit organisation borne out of one man’s vision, working with local childminders and families, to improve the quality of childcare by developing people’s skills and confidence.
Over 40 years later, the charity is now a revolutionary network of practical projects, partners, and services, committed to helping the people of Kirklees to achieve their full potential through its suite of support services. Its unwavering mission throughout these four decades though has been – and continues to be – to improve lives and inspire change.
Through its diverse range of services, YCC’s aim is to create a future where everyone in the local area–from children, young people, and adults, to families, and the elderly– feels supported and empowered and has the opportunity to live a better life.
Within its roster of support for all ages, YCC offers a befriending scheme – a programme delivered in partnership with Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees – which helps older and vulnerable people to feel less isolated and lonely and encourages them to be more socially active.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers would visit people in their homes every week, for company and conversation, however the social-distancing and lockdown rules saw the charity having to transform its original face-to-face support into a virtual alternative.
This saw the birth of the organisation’s Telephone Befriending service – which helped to prevent social disconnection, by pairing volunteers with service-users, within 48 hours, for a 30-minute call, at an agreed frequency. In just six months – between April-October 2020 – the charity recorded over 1,600 calls, provided 800 hours of support, welcomed 150 new volunteers on board, and matched more than 260 people with ‘befrienders.’
Some of YCC’s other services include a domestic abuse prevention programme – to help identify the cause and stop the cycle of abuse – dementia support, a safety in the home service, and a key stage 4 alternative provision college, which helps to offer vulnerable young people access to improved life chances, to name but a few.
The latter of which, Brian Jackson College, is based across two sites – Huddersfield and Heckmondwike – and works with pupils with social, emotional, and mental health difficulties.
Today, there are over 100 staff members and 300 volunteers who dedicate their time to helping the local community through YCC’s spectrum of services.
Mark Farmer, YCC’s CEO, explained: “Here at YCC, we’re passionate about effecting real change within the Kirklees community, and it’s our amazing team of staff and volunteers, and partnerships with other organisations, which help to make this a reality.
“Like for many, the pandemic has been an extremely turbulent time not only for the charity but for the community, which has meant our support services have been required more than ever before.
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“However, as restrictions begin to ease and some semblance of ‘normality’ returns, it’s important to remember that the demand for services such as ours won’t simply go away – there was a community in need before the pandemic and it still will be when it’s over.
“We therefore need more volunteers to help us keep improving lives and inspiring change, because it’s only when we all work together that incredible things can truly happen.”
To find out more about YCC, visit http://yorkshirechildrenscentre.org.uk/.
And for anyone able to spare 30 minutes a week to make a real difference to someone’s day as a Telephone Befriending volunteer, please email BefriendingPartnership@yccuk.org.uk or call 07849 398710 for an application form.