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 five 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 accommodation occupancy currently runs at over 98%, a stark demonstration of the need for this provision. 


• 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


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 in the former Barbican Fann Street Home, 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. 

In 2017 we opened a new 87 bed hostel in Hackney providing 16 to 25 year olds supported accommodation, the first such provision in Hackney.


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


  • Robert Thompson, Chairman - Retired 
  • Mark Poulding-Wright, Vice Chairman - Consultant (Commercial)
  • Gary Morley, Treasurer - Finance Consultant
  • Mark Henshaw - Partner / Audit, Grant Thornton UK LLP
  • Daniel Gerring - Partner / Head of Pensions, Travers Smith LLP
  • Patsy Mills, HR Director, The Heath Foundation
  • Claudia Webbe, Islington Councillor
  • Marek Wiluszynski - Public Housing Specialism


Gillian Bowen, Chief Executive

Gillian Bowen JP, MBA, MA is the Chief Executive Officer.  She has been with City YMCA for over 10 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 over 10 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, Appeal 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.

Emir Feisal, Director of Business and Finance 

Emir is a qualified Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW and CIMA, a Certified Fraud Examiner, a Chartered Director with the Institute of Directors and holds an MSc in Strategic Management Accounting. He has undertaken a number of transformational change project as a consultant in the recent past, ranging from a 130 year old Independent girls School to an SME involved in dementia care. The majority of his career was spent at the Sunday Times as Associate Managing Editor managing the executive functions as a CFO. He was heavily involved in the strategic development of the Paper’s digital transformation. He is a Magistrate for the Central London Bench for the adult and family Courts and listens to Appeals at the Crown Court and Old Bailey.


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


Our Full StatutoryAccounts for the year ended 31 March 2018 are available HERE 

and our Annual Report HERE.

A Registered Charity No 1053864   |   A Registered Company No 03169665    |    Regulator of Social Housing No H4099

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