YHA (England & Wales)

Riding high at the beginning of 2020, having had one of the most successful years ever with income topping £55 million, a new 10-year strategy on the brink of being launched and a year of 90th anniversary celebrations planned, YHA’s plans came to an abrupt halt when the pandemic hit. Lockdown forced the closure of the entire 153-strong network of youth hostels. It was the first complete closure in YHA’s history and resulted in the immediate furloughing of more than 90 per cent of YHA’s workforce. Despite the economic threat to the charity’s future, YHA recognised that it had role to play both during the pandemic and helping rebuild society afterwards. YHA actively used its assets to support the national effort, providing respite and refuge to those who most needed it. Through the huge effort, energy, dedication and passion of YHA’s people, supporters and partners, YHA’s pandemic response included repurposing 47 hostels to councils to provide accommodation for homeless people and women experiencing domestic abuse. It also fundraised extensively to provide respite breaks to those most affected by Covid-19. It has also laid the foundations for a future for YHA with which it can look to with hope and ambition.