22 June 2023

Most of the young people who receive support from YMCA East Surrey’s Housing team have faced difficult challenges in their lives. But that isn’t enough for some.

Nine residents, accompanied by three YMCA staff members, will be heading up to Scotland shortly to climb Ben Nevis – all 4,411 ft of it. Wali Mohammed is the youngest of the group at just 16 years of age, with Amz Kaur, 22, the oldest.

Three of the young people are asylum seekers, with limited English speaking skills. Interactive training sessions leading up to the event have helped them improve their language skills, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Lee Fabry, Head of Housing for YMCA East Surrey, says:

“The impact that a challenge like this can have on the lives of our young people cannot be estimated as it teaches them so many vital life lessons to help shape their future. Many haven’t flown before, so even the journey will be an adventure. Some of the residents are looking to tackle new opportunities rather than dwelling on the struggles they have had to face. A few of the young people signed up for this event as a way to test and improve themselves, not just mentally but also physically.”

Two members of the group have previously climbed Snowdon, also with the YMCA, but for the others this will be a unique adventure. All participants have been training hard for the event.

Carmella Immouche, YMCA East Surrey’s Y Focus Co-ordinator, says:

“Those residents who use the YMCA gym in Redhill have found the training fairly easy, but the sessions have allowed them to expand on their social skills with their peers. For other residents, the physical effort has been more challenging but completing the training has helped them feel a sense of accomplishment.”

“The whole event is being seen as something exciting! As there were limited spaces, not everyone who wanted to was able to take part but some of the other residents joined the training sessions anyway and still felt a thrill of achievement.”

Amz and Sherkhan are a young couple who met at the YMCA. Originally from different countries – Afghanistan and India – they bonded through being able to speak the same language. Although Sherkhan has now left the YMCA and moved on to his own place, staff encouraged him to join the challenge group in the hope that the event will help the couple to spend more time together and build lasting memories.

Amz Kaur says:

“I am most looking forward to going somewhere I have never been before and being a part of something that we achieve together.”

The YMCA Housing residents, along with 28 other challengers aged between 18 and 74, will be raising funds through their efforts which will go towards YMCA East Surrey’s Life Change Fund. This money is earmarked towards the purchase of a new ‘Y-Bus’ – a mobile youth club on wheels to reach young people in areas where there is little or no youth provision.

The Rebecca Cannon Vitality Fund have donated £4,160 for the purchase of suitable equipment, clothing, flights and accommodation for the group of residents. Former YMCA East Surrey Chairman, Chris Brewer, has also donated £1,000.

“Following the challenge, we hope all of these young people will be able to have a more positive approach towards their everyday tasks, goals and dreams,” says Lee Fabry.

If you would like to support the YMCA Housing residents, their online fundraising page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lee-fabry.