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Broughty Ferry
Broughty Ferry

Stepping Stones to Success: YMCA Supports Young Talent

Broughty Ferry YMCA based in Dundee, was established in 1866 and is a Registered Charity.


The organisation's overarching aim is to provide a meeting place for local community members. Although YMCA stands for Young Men’s Christian Association, users vary in age from 4 to 84 years, the majority of users are female (60%) and the centre is open to those of all faiths and none. 

Broughty YMCA is based in three buildings within the coastal town of Broughty Ferry, between which lies a community garden, which includes a sensory garden used by autistic and nursery groups. A Men’s Shed runs from one of the buildings and the YMCA hires meeting rooms to a wide range of groups including ballet, tap dancing, burlesque, tai chi, taekwondo, art classes, zumba, yoga, and youth groups. Operationally, the organisation is assisted by 3 part time staff members as well as a pool of 30 volunteers. Broughty Ferry YMCA estimates that at least 400 people use the facilities every week.


In 2020, Broughty Ferry YMCA employed a 23-year-old woman who was struggling with her mental health. This had prevented her completing education. In 2019, her Dundee City Council employment support worker facilitated a volunteer placement at the YMCA charity bookshop. 

The YMCA then secured funding for a part-time administrative assistant role for her, including online training under supervision. In 2023, The Essentia Foundation stepped in and awarded a grant to allow for continued employment, soon reaching independent work capability and to train as a mentor for other young people using services.

The ‘Support my Independence’ project commenced last year. Through assistance from the grant, Broughty Ferry YMCA took on a second intern. The grant also enabled extending both interns' time by 2-3 months. The interns, secretary, and a director met regularly to discuss progress and ongoing organizational business. Both interns were successfully trained in all aspects of the YMCA's daily operations and could independently manage the office and freely communicate with visiting groups.

Both interns attended board meetings to understand operational decision-making. They helped update policies and worked part-time solo-internship days with mentor supervision plus a joint networking day. With proven capabilities, the mentor occasionally left them in charge when briefly offsite. These new staff members joined the Funding and Grant Seeking sub-committee, gaining experience with third sector funding applications.


Project activities have had a long term and transformational impact on these young interns. The on-the-job training and networking helped to build confidence as well as competencies. As the organisation testified, the ‘Support my Independence’ project also offered unexpected benefits for their own staff:

The greatest learning experience from this project has been that we, as an organisation with very little experience of this type of work and with a very small staff base and a limited number of volunteers, have been able to deliver a project that has met the needs of the participants as well as it has. It is difficult for staff and volunteers when working with neuro-divergent individuals for the first time to pitch their training at the correct level of difficulty to match their needs. We would feel confident if we were asked to take on another individual that we could (make a difference) for them too!