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Government Culture Recovery Fund helps YHA fully re-open network

Nearly £1 million has been awarded to YHA (England & Wales) in the latest round of funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.

The £999,900 grant – the largest single grant awarded in this funding round – is now helping YHA to fully re-open its youth hostel network from 1st April 2022. The re-opening of all YHA accommodation will further boost the charity’s recovery from the financial impact of the Covid pandemic.

YHA has welcomed 308,598 guests between September 2021 and March 2022. Following the full re-opening of all its properties, YHA expects its network capacity to increase by nearly 10% ahead of the spring/summer season.

Funded by Government and administered by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the recent grant is one of three, totalling £2.34 million, awarded from the Culture Recovery Fund to YHA between 2020 – 2022.

The funding has provided a vital bridge to plug the 64% drop (£66 million) in income YHA suffered during the pandemic when it closed all its properties for five months and then after was only able to partially re-open the network.

The forced closure of rooms, social spaces and communal kitchens at the height of the pandemic meant, for the first time in YHA’s history we were encouraging people not to be social. The recent grant funding will enable us, once again, to fully return to our original purpose of providing affordable places to stay to connect with people, the outdoors and heritage.

James Blake

Chief Executive, YHA (England & Wales)

The most recent round of funding has enabled YHA to undertake thorough deep cleaning, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, ahead of reopening, and also install guest self-sanitisation stations at properties.

Looking to the future, the funding is also being used to invest in new advertising and marketing channels to enable YHA to reach new audiences and grow visitor numbers, particularly in the schools and groups market, allowing more young people to access culture and heritage, and support the wider recovery of the heritage sector.

James added: “We’re immensely gratefully to the government for its support during what has been the most challenging financial period in YHA’s 92-year history. The Culture Recovery Fund has helped YHA emerge from the pandemic in a stronger position and fully open for business from April when all Government restrictions end. We look forward to helping many more individuals, families, schools and groups access the country’s wonderful natural and cultural heritage in and around hostels this year. Being fully open will also allow us to create more than 350 jobs throughout the network.”

YHA Ironbridge Coalport exterior

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This much-needed Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grant will enable YHA to open their heritage sites, which include many historic buildings and landscapes, for the spring and summer season and enable them to move forward with their exciting plans to engage young people. YHA alongside other UK heritage organisations, sites and attractions have faced unprecedented times, and support of the heritage sector remains vitally important for places, people and the economy.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England said: “We are pleased that the Culture Recovery Fund has been able to provide vital support to YHA to continue its good work across the country – allowing people to discover new places, explore heritage and the great outdoors, and socialise – which are all extremely important as we emerge from the pandemic.”

YHA was one of 925 arts, heritage and cultural organisations to benefit from share of the £107 million latest round of awards. The recent round of grants brings the total cash support package made available for culture during the pandemic to close to £2 billion.

Tourism Minister with Margaret Hart at YHA Ironbridge Coalport

Ahead of English Tourism Week (Friday 18 – Sunday 27 March) and the re-opening of the entire YHA network, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston visited YHA Ironbridge Coalport. He said: “I’m delighted that – thanks to our support – YHA can now fully reopen its network of youth hostels to the public. As we celebrate English Tourism Week and look forward to the upcoming holiday season, this news is another boon for our wonderful tourism industry to continue its bounce back from the pandemic.”

During the visit Mr Huddleston met with YHA Chief Executive James Blake, YHA Chair Margaret Hart and Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England (pictured above).

Tourism Minister meets staff at YHA Ironbridge Coalport

YHA Ironbridge Coalport opened in 1997. The Grade II listed building is a former China Works owned by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and set within a World Heritage Site. It is one of a number of examples of buildings in YHA’s network of properties which supports young people to access heritage both in and from hostels.

Mr Huddleston also met with Ben Platt, Manager of YHA Ironbridge Coalport, and Andrew Philipson, Deputy Manager (pictured above).

Discover more about YHA (England & Wales).

Written by YHA News Team

From fundraising projects to exciting announcements, our YHA news team share the latest updates on all things YHA.

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Impact and fundraisingGovernment Culture Recovery Fund helps YHA fully re-open network