Evolve Housing and Support – Evolving our organisation

On 7 September 2015 South London YMCA became Evolve Housing and Support. Chief Executive Jeremy Gray explains the changes.

Why a name change and rebrand?

For most of our 154 year history, our branding as a YMCA has worked well, but society – and the community needs we strive to meet – have changed enormously since our inception in 1861 as Croydon Young Men’s Christian Association.

Having seen major growth and expansion over the last few years, we now work both north and south of the Thames with a rich diversity of customers including people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds. Last summer we consulted widely on our brand and name to ensure it truly represents our current work and values. The consultation confirmed it was time to move to an inclusive brand which better represents all of our work and customers.

Across the country, local YMCAs continue their excellent work to deliver their aim to be leading Christian youth charities.  However, given the diversity of our customer group and the continuing expansion of our work it has become clear that now is the time to move away from the YMCA brand.  We have disaffiliated from the YMCA Federation, but will continue to work with neighbouring YMCAs to benefit the local community.  We wish the YMCA Federation every success for the future.

Why Evolve Housing + Support?

Our new name better reflects the entirely secular work we do with a diverse group of customers to help them change their lives for the better.

During the consultation, our customers told us that we are a place of positive change and growth. They are on a journey towards independence and our new name perfectly encapsulates their aspirations. The name was also available for us to trademark and use as a web domain.

Designed by branding agency Both Associates, our new logo – an E and an inverted V, forming a larger house and a smaller house – our look and feel and our website better reflect the work we do and the customers we support.

What have we learned?

Consultation with customers, staff and stakeholders has been crucial from conception to execution. Bringing people with us ensured a smooth implementation and nobody has been left feeling surprised or uninformed.  Communication is everything.

We also learned that the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly, so allowing plenty of time for all required regulatory processes was vitally important.  Excellent legal advice – from Keith Jenkins of Devonshires and Charlie Proddow of Winckworth Sherwood – was essential to ensure compliance with governance and regulatory processes.

What next?

We are delighted with how our new name and brand has been received so far.  We’ll now work hard to make sure everyone knows who we are, and aim to consolidate our position as the third largest provider of accommodation for homeless people in London.  We’ll grow our range of services across a wider geography, developing innovative new delivery models which reduce our reliance on traditional funding streams and meet needs across the whole community.  We’ll continue to lead and develop the London Customer Employment Partnership – generously funded by London Housing Foundation – and help more homeless people find jobs.

To see our new brand in action and to read more about the work we do, please visitwww.evolvehousing.org.uk. 

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