City YMCA London is an independent charity affiliated to the global YMCA movement that was founded in the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral in 1844. Our work is based on the ethos of the international movement and we work across some of London's most deprived boroughs of Islington, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney. 

We passionately believe that every young person should have the opportunity to build a future of their own choosing. Over the past forty years we have helped 30,000 isolated, homeless young people struggling with family breakdown, school exclusion, poor mental health and drug and alcohol problems. From emergency beds through to supported longer-term accommodation our hostel occupancy currently runs at 98%, a stark demonstration of the need for this provision. 


We offer

• A safe and secure place to live

• Advice and sign-posting on all aspects of housing and homelessness

• A two year Move-On Programme to develop the skills needed for independent living 

• Dedicated Project Workers to offer information, guidance and support


Our Impact to date

Over the last five years we have intensively supported over 750 young homeless Londoners between the ages of 16 to 25 through our supported accommodation service. We provide a much needed safe and secure place to live, giving young people back confidence and allowing them to create their own future. We offer a two-year move on programme to develop the skills needed for independent living. We offer dedicated project workers to offer information, guidance, support and sign posting on all aspects of housing and homelessness.

Our gym supported the health needs of around 3,00 young residents and members of the local community.

We have also supported 2,500 young people through our detached programme of interventions and our student hostel giving a foothold into London.

Last year we opened a new 87 bed hostel in Hackney providing 16 to 25 year olds supported accommodation, the first such provision in Hackney.


Our Leadership Team 

City YMCA London has a Board of Trustees who oversee governance matters and they are responsible under the charity's governing document for controlling the management and administration of the charity.  They make decisions, set strategic direction and ensure that the work of the charity is carried out. Trustees of City YMCA London are themselves volunteers and therefore do not financial benefit from the work.

Trusteeship is a serious responsibility which requires members to take an active role in the governance of the organisation. There responsibilities include:

  • Setting the strategic direction for the organisation
  • Ensuring everything is legal and safe
  • Supporting the Chief Executive
  • Ensuring the work of the charity is carried out
  • Ensuring the Trustee Board is up-to-date and skilled


Current board members include:

  • Robert Thompson, Chairman
  • Gary Morley, Treasurer
  • Matthew Smith, Vice Chairman
  • Mark Poulding-Wright, Vice Chairman
  • Jo-Ann Pepperell
  • Josefine Ahlstrom
  • Marek Wiluszynski
  • Patsy Mills
  • Claudia Web, Islington Representative
  • Andrew McMurtrie, City of London Representative


The day-to-day operations are then led by our Chief Executive and Senior Management Team:  

Gillian Bowen, Chief Executive

Gillian Bowen JP, MBA, MA is the Chief Executive Officer.  She has been with City YMCA for over 6 years and has held previous Chief Executive Officer positions.  She has a background of leading youth organisations having previously held Chief Executive Officer and Director positions.  Gillian also has experience of front line youth work having started her career working in Young Offender Institutions and working with disadvantaged young people. She has been in the youth field for 20 years, has experience of working in the private sector and is responsible for the strategic leadership of City YMCA.  Gillian is also Magistrate and sits on the Central London Bench (Adult and Youth Court

John Faulkner, Director of Operations,

John has been with City  YMCA for 7 years.  He has worked  for big blue chip companies including, T-Mobile, Santander, Wickes, NatWest  over a period of 18 years with 11 years at a senior management level.   He is responsible for the strategic direction, reporting and management of all operation functions in City YMCA, including housing, catering, conferencing, properties, facilities, maintenance and housekeeping.

Chris East, Appeals Director

Chris East is an accomplished third sector leader and Capital Appeal Fundraiser having successfully raised over £28m for good causes to-date. He has an ability to reinvigorate an organisation, redefining the public’s perception of the cause whilst instilling an energy, passion and confidence that secures income and creates success. Chris is founder of The Giving Business, the retained Fundraising Advisor for Haysmacintyre Accountants, co-founder of Pakistani art and culture company Riwayat and a member of Third Sector think tank CResCAT.


Management Team

  • Elizabeth Rees, Company Secretary & Finance Manager
  • Sharon Harvey, Hostel Manager
  • John Cooper, Estates Manager


To view our annual accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016, CLICK HERE

To view our Annual Report for 2016 CLICK HERE


'City YMCA, London are fortunate to have a skilled set of professionals who apply their field of knowledge for the benefit of the charity. Our Trustees have enabled City YMCA, London to make the step change from being a good charity to an excelling charity where good practice prevails'.    

Gillian Bowen, CEO




8 Errol Street, London EC1Y 8SE

Tel: 020 7549 0475


30-50 Cadogan Terrace Hackney London E9 5EJ

Tel: 020 8525 2440


167 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JT

Tel: 020 7549 0470

A Registered Charity No 1053864

A Registered Company No 3169665

Housing Agency No H4099

A Registered Charity No 1053864

A Registered Company No 3169665

Housing Agency No H4099