Home > News > YMCA Y’s Girls Mentoring

7 December 2022    |    Y's Girls Mentoring, Campaigns, Stories, General

YMCA Y’s Girls Mentoring

Background to Reports

What Is Y’s Girls?

The Y’s Girls programme was designed to adapt and replicate the successful Plusone Mentoring programme, created by YMCA Scotland, across the UK, for a new audience of young girls. 


Y’s Girls is a YMCA mentoring programme specifically developed to increase the resilience and improve outcomes for young women and girls at risk of developing mental health issues.

Building from the basis of the identified need for an early intervention programme to increase the protective factors of vulnerable young people, Y’s Girls’ objective is to become an effective public health approach to improve the mental health of participants. Supporting young women and girls to progress into positive activities, while improving relationships with parents/carers, schools, and their communities.

With funding from the Tampon Tax Fund, Garfield Weston, and the Penny Appeal, the Y’s Girls programme targeted girls and young women aged 9-14 years and sought to establish 250 mentoring relationships across 10 YMCAs in all four countries of the UK. In total 270 mentoring matches were achieved

The pilot phase of Y’s Girls took place between April 2020 to September 2022 and has proven to be an effective intervention in promoting positive mental health with the young women girls engaged with the project.

The final external evaluation, conducted by the Centre for Youth Impact, found that Y’s Girls positively affects six social and emotional learning skills that are indicative of better short and long-term mental health, and that it is a young person centred and inclusive programme, with a clear relationship between quality and impact.

The evaluation was led by the Centre for Youth Impact at YMCA George Williams College, in partnership with QTurn. The evaluation focused on both process and outcomes, and answered research questions on implementation, quality and impact.

Y's Girls Celebrates Successful Pilot Phase

More than 70 young girls and their families, mentors and staff gathered at the newly opened YMCA Newark  Sherwood Activity Village for a day of activities, workshops and talks in celebration of the success of the Y’s Girls pilot, which was recently awarded Family Youth Work Project of the Year at YMCA’s annual Youth Matters Awards.

For many in the programme, it was their first time meeting other participants from across the ten YMCA delivery sites.

Watch Y’s Girls | Year One

Y's Girls Winners!

Y’s Girls is now officially an award-winning project having been voted the Family and Youth Work Project of the year at the 2022 Youth Matters Awards!

YMCA Scotland’s CEO, Kerry Reilly was also in attendance at the awards presenting the Diversity Award.

Those who weren’t there to celebrate got a big shout out too. Please shout loud and proud about out latest achievement and look out on our social media for opportunities to re-post.

Rebecca Waclawyj, National Programme Manager of Y’s Girls:

“This past year has seen an incredible start to Y’s Girls.

“Our original target was to establish 250 12-month mentoring relationships across ten YMCAs in all  four countries of the UK. We have achieved 270.

“This event was an opportunity to celebrate the impact these mentoring relationships are having on the girls and young women, their mentors and the wider local community.

“It has also reinforced what we know – the programme is crucial and it must continue.”

Experiences from Mentors and Mentees

As mentoring relationships were nearing their end, feedback from girls and young women and their mentors across all sites suggested that impact would be felt beyond the end of the programme, so long as the girls and young women continued to ‘embed’ the positive behaviours they had developed. The following three mentees  were able to identify possible longer-term improvements in areas such as emotional wellbeing and school/community engagement.

The Mentees

“Y Girls help to show me I am not alone.”

YMCA Tayside

“My outlook on different things, all the confidence, my anxiety, the way I deal with them and the way I cope. It’s been a year, [my confidence] has grown and grown and become embedded in me. I know that I should hopefully stick with it, because I’ve had the time to build it up.”

YMCA Downslink Group

“Once it’s finished, I’ll continue encouraging the good attitudes, to learning more, and definitely no violence.”

YMCA Southend

“I’ll bring myself to doing stuff outside the house more often. Mentoring got me more adventurous; I’ve been going out more ever since.”

YMCA Tayside

“I had been getting bullied quite a lot and experiencing family stuff. […] Things are really getting better. I’ve noticed within myself that I’m feeling a lot happier.”

YMCA Cardiff

The Mentors

Mentors also reflected on what they hope their mentees will take away from the relationship in the longer term, which again had strong alignment with the longer-term outcomes in the theory of change.

“I know that she’ll take a lot from this, and that things will be instilled in her.”


“My hope for her is that she continues to discuss her mental health, and that she feels able to. Encourage her to do activities with her friends like we’ve been doing together and know that it will be just as satisfying as what we’ve been doing.”

Downslink Group

Share this article