Central YMCA

Central YMCA is a leading UK health, education and wellbeing charity. It's also the world's first YMCA. 


The charity runs four commercial operations (YMCA TrainingYMCA ClubYMCA Awards and YMCA Fit), but wanted to inject life into the umbrella brand Central YMCA.

A new website was planned that would become the hub of a fresh content-led approach. I was brought in to develop an initial content strategy and fill the site with content.

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Content strategy

Copywriting examples

Content examples

Joe is fab. His calm-under-fire nature has helped us no end to develop our voice in all channels from top level events to topical tweets. Joe has a nose like a bloodhound, moist... but more importantly can sniff out a story from great distance.
— James Brotherhood, Central YMCA Director of Marketing

Content strategy

The original Central YMCA website had very little content.

Users and staff complained that it had poor UX, no consistent tone of voice and failed to adequately explain – let alone promote – the charity's work. 



Tone of voice revamp

Before starting the new website the charity's tired tone of voice needed to be addressed. It didn't fit the dynamic new direction the brand was taking. So I developed a new one. 

Read it



It fed into everything I went on to write on the new website – from the long-form articles to the microcopy.



User personas

The next step was to construct some web-user personas. I worked with stakeholders to identify the primary two. 

Now we knew who the site was for and what they wanted.



Content objectives

The final piece of the puzzle was to work out the point of the website content. What did we want it to do and how could we measure it? 

I drew up Central YMCA website objectives based on the business goals along with some rules about appropriate web content.



Copywriting examples


New "Our History" web copy

The Central YMCA story began in the early 19th century with a young Somerset apprentice called George Williams (1821 – 1905). 

Like many others then – and today – George came to London in the hope of finding work. London was the largest city in the world at that time. A beating heart at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. A dirty, busy place bursting with opportunities – but also danger. 

When he arrived, George was shocked by what he saw. Taverns and gambling dens filled the city’s streets – but where were the opportunities for young arrivals like him to socialise in safety? So George and a group of fellow drapers came together with a plan. Their goal was to create a place where young men could gather and adapt to city life. Somewhere healthy and happy. Somewhere where they could do something more fulfilling. 

That space was the YMCA Club.

Founded in 1844 the idea spread quickly. Today the YMCA has grown to become a worldwide organisation with 45 million members – each YMCA adapting to the needs of its own local community.

George’s vision to get people happy, healthy and more fulfilled still informs our work today at Central YMCA.

View it on the Central YMCA website


Eudaimonia campaign copy 

Origional copy (excerpt)

We’ve been a pioneer in the wellbeing of London since 1844 and we want to continue to invest in its future.

Our core purpose has always been mind, body and spirit but have we lost the connection? We want to explore this, starting with an exciting event to discuss what it really means to live well in London. 

My rewrite (excerpt)

Let's kickstart a rethink about what living well means in the 21st century – and bring about real change.

Eudaimonia! is our movement to learn about – and overcome – the barriers to the UK’s wellbeing.

We're taking a radical, grassroots approach. We want to rip up the rule book, look past assumptions and ultimately come up with real, practical solutions that help people flourish. 

Get involved and join the movement.

Read it on the Central YMCA website


Content examples

As the online hub of the new Central YMCA marketing strategy, content was central the charity's new website. Here are some examples, including those for B2B and B2C audiences and social media.


Changing perceptions: Why apprenticeships lose out to A-Levels

Read more on ymca.co.uk

Negative educational experiences cause lasting damage to wellbeing

Read more on ymca.co.uk

People with an active lifestyle have higher wellbeing

According to our Eudaimonia research report, staying active is one of the secrets to feeling happier.

Read more on the Central YMCA website

Understanding the new apprenticeship levy: Your questions answered

Read more on the Central YMCA website

Changing the face (and body) of fashion

As London Fashion Week begins, we ask how far have we really come with the body image debate?

Read more on the Central YMCA website

Promotional film for YMCAfit

"How I rebuilt my life after a car accident left me in a wheelchair"

Jade Simmons got her life back on track and found a new career with help from Central YMCA following a serious car accident.

Social media posts

Central YMCA Twitter post

Central YMCA Twitter post

Christmas infographic poster for Eudaimonia campaign