These stories demonstrate how Henley YMCA have changed (and continue to change) the lives of young people in our community. You can help by making a donation to our charity and ensure we can carry on making a difference for years to come. Click here for more information.

Henley YMCA has housed me over the past 2 years, and I could not be more grateful for my time here! They not only helped me from being homeless when I first moved, but have helped me through some really tough times and always had time for me! Henley YMCA is an absolutely fantastic place and will always hold a place in my heart, I can’t tell what I’ll miss the most, the feeling of family that is built between the residents, or the good laughs and support from both Lisa and Charlotte! Thank you so much for your kind support! And all the very best for the future!


I moved into the YMCA in 2014 where I met Matt, who was also a tenant. With the help of Lisa and the staff at the YMCA I wouldn’t have been able to complete my Mathematics GCSE retake. In April 2015 Lisa helped both Matt and I to help move on to our own house in Henley. She supported us with budgeting and finding the right place to live.

Now 3 years on, we are now married, have a young son and are in the process of purchasing our first home together. Without the YMCA the support we received, we both wouldn’t be where we are today.


I have been a resident at Henley YMCA twice. I am a fire-fighter for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue service working mainly from Henley Fire Station. At the end of 2012 I received further employment for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust, as an emergency care assistant. This involves working on emergency ambulances and working towards a qualification as a paramedic.

In order to carry out my employment for both services I needed to move to Henley. This is because part of my role in the Fire Service is to provide on call time and be within five minutes of the Fire Station to respond to emergency calls.
One of the fire-fighters who worked in my station suggested the YMCA as that was where he lived. I put into motion my application, I found the process very simple yet functional and the YMCA staff supportive.
After an interview with the Housing Manager I was offered a place. Throughout my time at the YMCA I have felt fully supported with any queries, and find staff very approachable and helpful.
I have been overwhelmed by the compassionate and honest approach of the staff and feel privilege and honoured to be part of such an amazing centre.


I was in a difficult situation at home based around my parent and alcoholism. I was really struggling to cope with the life I was having to live and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a young teenager. I felt I needed to get away from the environment I was living in, but due to my age, no income as a student, and the area I lived in there was nowhere for me to live or be able to afford to move to. Knowing I was going to have to continue living in the situation I was in terrified me and made me worry about my future life.

I was referred to YMCA Henley at 17. A place that finally not only took me out of a terrible past life, but gave me the support I needed to plan ahead and help me get ready for independence in the world.

The YMCA staff were very supportive, helping me with my past issues, career building, financial issues and many other things in everyday life which a young person may are feel too much to cope with on their own. Without the YMCA, I and many others my age would be left in overwhelming situations in life where we can’t move on or get support as there is no other affordable housing in the area.

The YMCA over the years has helped me change from a quiet teenage girl into a confident, Independent woman, a career, and more knowledge of what’s going to happen in my future.


I have been living at the YMCA (Henley-On-Thames) since October 2014. However, previous to this I was a serving prisoner where I had spent a considerable amount of time. This was due to some very unfortunate and life changing circumstances. Upon release I was faced with many barriers with regards to my status as an ex-prisoner. One of these barriers, among others, was housing.

The staff at the YMCA afforded me the opportunity to be close to relatives, by liaising with the relative housing agencies to provide me with suitable accommodation where others would not. This provided the platform which has propelled me in the positive direction I am currently on today. With the help of family, friends and the staff at the YMCA I am currently coming to the end of an Access To Higher Education Diploma (Accounting and Finance) and have been successful in my application to University, currently with four offers to choose from.

I must stress the importance of accommodation such as this, not just for myself but for the many young people who are in need of help in this area of life. The staff at the YMCA has extended their help to areas of life which are not associated with housing and often considered routine for many people. However, this is not always the case, and in my circumstances proved invaluable.


After the blow of my mum passing away last year and after finishing my A-levels, the pressure of paying the bills overwhelmed Dad and I. We couldn’t afford the rent for our old property, causing us to go to the council for help. After months of trying to apply for homes, we could find nothing suitable for us. We needed to be near Henley for work and after much deliberation, we decided it’d be wise for me to get myself sorted at least. So the council put me forward for the YMCA and after a short time I was moving in. I’ve only been here for a short while but it all seems very homely and hospitable. It seems like a lovely society here.


I moved over to the UK from Ireland in May 2013 to live with my auntie and to get a job. I got a job working for NHS in August 2013 and still continue to work with NHS. I’d been with my auntie over a year until it was getting too crowded. I had to look for my own place.

I heard about the YMCA from my auntie. I went to see person in charge and explained my situation. Within a couple of months I’d got word I’d got a bedsit. It was best day of my life. To know I’d got a place in such a lovely surrounded area and in such short time. I can’t thank the staff enough for all they have done for me. They’re such good, kind people, they would do anything to help anyone if they can. I’m happy living here. Having my own place and privacy is so nice. The YMCA staff continues to help me in every way, not just housing. YMCA is a lovely place to live and very well looked after.


Henley YMCA enabled my son to move out of the family home and live independently while remaining near to friends and family. It was an easy transition supported by the YMCA. Without the YMCA accommodation it would have been impossible for my son to move out but remain in Henley.