The YMCA has launched a new program to support young women and girls who are at risk of mental health problems.

Nottinghamshire YMCA is partnering with social workers, schools and the local police to launch the Y’s Girls mentoring program, which brings girls ages nine to 14 together with mentors from different backgrounds to positively influence their lives and decision making as they enter adulthood influence.

Asma Iqbal, program coordinator for the Y’s Girls project, said, “Essentially, we’re bringing 25 mentors together with 25 girls to engage them in community activities, schoolwork, or whatever they’re fun.

YMCA Newark (47937687)

“The goal is to prevent mental health problems, and that’s why it’s a younger group, aged nine to 14.

“We’re reaching out to schools, community groups, social workers, and charities looking for girls who meet a criterion.

“It could be a lack of distance, lack of role models, disruptive aspects or even if you show little self-confidence, then we will bring you together with a mentor (who was trained by the YMCA).”

Asma Iqbal with Baroness Barran.  (47937678)Asma Iqbal with Baroness Barran. (47937678)

The mentors meet with their mentee regularly over a period of 12 months, no more than once a week for two hours, and provide an informal environment with the opportunity to discuss anything that worries them, from family and personal relationships to lifestyle and Education.

Civil Society Secretary Baroness Barran MBE visited the YMCA Community and Activity Village near Bowbridge Road to show her support for the start of the program.

Baroness Barran was given a full tour of the village while learning about Y’s Girls’ mentoring program.

She said, “The relationship between a mentee and a mentor is very special, and one of the very special things here (in the Newark Activity Village) is access to everything that is on offer.

Baroness Barran (47937681)Baroness Barran (47937681)

“We can’t always predict how life will go, but the principle is that our children are resilient and that’s something any parent would want, so it’s a very positive thing.”

Craig Berens, Chief Executive of the Nottinghamshire YMCA Group, said, “It was a real privilege to welcome Baroness Barran to our developing YMCA village to show her how we are transforming the lives of young people and families across the region want.

“With one in six children aged five to 16 in the UK now classified as likely mentally ill by NHS Digital, we are all too aware that mental health problems in this age group are increasing dramatically.”

LR YMCA Group CEO Craig Berens - Baroness Barran - Ys Girls Project Coordinator Asma Iqbal and YMCA Ambassador Veronica Pickering (47937684)LR YMCA Group CEO Craig Berens – Baroness Barran – Ys Girls Project Coordinator Asma Iqbal and YMCA Ambassador Veronica Pickering (47937684)

In the main building of the charity village, youth training, educational offers, health and fitness facilities, a digital media room, childcare facilities and a community café are to be accommodated.

Y’s Girls was made possible through funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Tampon Tax Fund, and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

To become a mentor or learn more, visit: