In the first of a new regular column, Link4Growth volunteer Debra Oakaby discovers what’s new at the YMCA
The YMCA in Forest Road, Walthamstow, has undergone a transformation as of late.
As well as opening its huge new Health and Wellbeing Centre this year the local branch of the international charity has changed its name from Forest YMCA to YMCA East London, reflecting its broader reach across the area.
A special weekend of celebrations was held this autumn to officially launch the Health and Wellbeing Centre. Among its facilities is a gymnasium, sports hall, three studios, male and female saunas, a creche, and treatment room.
I had previously met YMCA East London’s community development officer Kat Fisher at one of the local networking events organised by the group I volunteer with, Link4Growth.
I asked Kat about the new centre. She told me: “Everyone at YMCA East London was delighted with the launch of our new Health and Wellbeing Centre.
“We had a great turnout over both days with people coming along to see the new facilities and try out the activities on offer.
“We were pleased at how many local community stalls also took part in the event as they really helped visitors understand that health and wellbeing is not just about fitness but covers a whole myriad of issues.
“It also helped us to start establishing relationships with other community groups and opened up opportunities for joint working. As a result, we are already working in partnership with Healthwatch Waltham Forest to host a focus group event around Waltham Forest Council’s health and wellbeing strategy, and we hope to extend this still further with other groups.”
The Health and Wellbeing Centre at YMCA East London was officially opened by the mayor of Waltham Forest, Saima Mahmud, on 24th October.
Kat added: “We want the new centre to be a welcoming and inclusive community hub that helps everyone develop their whole lives in body, mind and spirit. A place where local people can come to get fit and improve their wellbeing, and which encourages active community involvement.
“We have had a very positive response to the new facilities so far, with a good take up on membership and many enquiries with regard to hiring our facilities. We hope to build on this over the coming months as we extend the services on offer – including the opening of our new community café.”
For me this is a great example of the community in action. I’d love to hear more from anyone involved in projects such as this which I can highlight in future columns for the Echo. Please share your stories by contacting myself on the details below, or drop in at a Link4Growth meeting held regularly in Walthamstow and Chingford.
By joining in you will be inspiring more people to get involved, and we can achieve so much more when we work together.
Link4Growth organises regular community networking events in Waltham Forest. For more information: