Our History

We’ve been Right There for 200 years, preventing homelessness one person at a time.

Rooted in community, we walk alongside people of all ages who are going through the toughest times in life. For us, the end goal has always been the same: for every person to have somewhere safe to call home. Our cause hasn’t wavered since our founding.

Our organisation was characterised by the ability to respond to the changing needs of social inequality

On February 13th, 1824, evangelist David Naismith, concerned over the numbers of men out of work and facing hardship, established the Young Men’s Society for Religious Improvement. A precursor to the YMCA (founded 20 years later in London), Naismith’s charity became a lifeline for Glasgow men.

Surviving records of our 53rd Annual Report, dated 1876, notes the recent union of two young men’s Christian associations in Glasgow and the official formation of YMCA Glasgow. The record says No sooner was this union accomplished than negotiations for union between the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and this Society were opened by the appointment of six representatives from each.”

We were quickly absorbed into the growing global phenomenon that was the YMCA, and that year the charity raised £159, 5s. 10d. – roughly £15,180.90 in today’s money. This money all went back into providing shelter, education and recreation for the people we served.

Our work in the first half of the 20th century revolved around building hope; homelessness prevention; and supporting the war effort.

Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating. Our work has always had a strong focus on prevention so that no one has to go through the trauma of rough sleeping. In our early days we provided accommodation known as huts – but our belief in the importance of ‘home’ was built into the huts’ foundations. In 1916 it was written that:

“The note of home-likeness is felt by every visitor to the Huts…it is redolent of the warm and kindly glow of a cosy ingleneuk where there is good welcome and companionship…The Hut that is home-like cannot fail of the highest results.”

We’ve always been responsive to the needs of those we are there to help. Evolving through the decades and standing the test of time, we’ve been Right There through some of the most challenging times in history.

A 1917 letter of thanks from Lt. General John Spencer Ewart, of the Scottish Command shows our contribution to the war efforts of the day.

Throughout the First and Second World Wars, we were well known for supporting young people – no longer just young men – facing inequalities. The day after the end of WWII, the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Associations went to work aiding the millions of refugees and others rendered homeless by the war. For us, that meant setting up community services in the newly built housing estates of Easterhouse, Drumchapel, Castlemilk and Springboig.

Our organisation supported local communities through both World Wars, the Great Depression, and welfare reforms as well as several mass-migration movements and health pandemics. This boots on the ground experience of the hardest times of the last hundred years was life changing for staff and volunteers as well as the generations of people we helped. It helped to evolve and solidify a new focus in the 20th Century, which carries through to the 21st: we expanded our demographic to support anyone of any age facing a tough time, and what was once an organisation focused on community advocacy evolved into one that focused on individual needs, and meeting people where they are.

Our post-war years saw a flurry of evolution and activity, supporting communities as they rebuilt, and people as they found home in a brand new society.  

In the 1970s we solidified our broader focus within the wider community – with an eye on helping people of all ages instead of purely focusing on youths, we transformed several Youth Centres into Neighbourhood Centres. The new centres offered playgroups, senior citizens’ clubs and new community outreach projects to help enrich the lives of the people we support. A decade later in 1988, a new arm of the charity provided safe places to live for nurses and other workers coming to Glasgow.

In 2000 we welcomed Glasgow’s first asylum seekers and spent the next 10 years working alongside individuals and families arriving in this country seeking refuge.

As we settled into the new millennium, our focus had evolved enough that the organisation was no longer compatible with the YMCA.  As a result, with mutual agreement, we disaffiliated from the YMCA – whilst keeping a close relationship.  Newly christened as independent charity YPeople, we continued to support people to make positive change in their lives across the country.

By the 2010s, Ypeople supported more than 4,000 individuals each year, encompassing children and families, with a variety of programmes from after school childcare to counselling and supported accommodation.

When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, our services never faltered.

We continued to deliver 24-7 accommodation and tailored support for people at risk of, or already experiencing, homelessness.

During these uncertain times, we were growing more aware of the additional pressures on the people we serve, and we undertook an organisational review with the purpose of strengthening our support – regardless of the consequence of the pandemic or other major global events.

In 2021, to engage broader public support for our cause, we rebranded once more, becoming Right There. With a bold and universal brand that reflects the feedback from those we support, we wanted to emphasise our unwavering commitment to communities and people.  We launched a new vision – a world where everyone has an equal chance to create a safe and supportive place to call home.

Being Right There – Present Day

200 years on from our founding, it’s a shocking reality that in 2024 homelessness still exists and inequalities continue to deepen. Homelessness is at an all time high, with 45 children a day becoming homeless in Scotland and 1 in 4 living in poverty. This is an unacceptable reality in the modern day.

People in the face of hardship show incredible resilience – but we all need a helping hand from time to time. For 200 years we have provided safe homes, offered family and emotional wellbeing support as well as outreach in the community, and we will continue to do so however long we’re needed. We will be Right There for as long as it takes for everyone to find their way home.


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