The Yemeni Community Association (YCA) is a small community based organisation that seeks to represent and meet the particular needs of Yemeni and other Arabic speaking communities in Sandwell as well as extending its services and activities to other disadvantaged communities within the area. The YCA achieves this by providing services over and above those available in the mainstream sector, and also by acting as an interface between the community and various service providers. It was registered as an official charity in 1997.
There are in excess of 250 Yemeni families living within the Borough of Sandwell, most of whom are members of the YCA. However, there are still no definitive figures relating to the total number of Arab speaking population within Sandwell as most tend to affiliate themselves to country of origin identity rather than a pan Arab identity. Indeed, the 2011 Census records only 901 individuals identifying themselves as Arab, which the YCA knows through its links and contacts with the communities, not a true reflection of the number of Arabic speaking communities within Sandwell.
The profile of YCA users tends to be one of low employment and a low skills base. These disadvantages are compounded by cultural and language issues, which often makes it difficult for these communities to access mainstream services and organisations. Other issues of concern within the community include the generally poor health of many individuals; high poverty levels; and an increasingly disaffected youth.
In a direct response to this state of affairs, members of the Yemeni Community in Sandwell got together and decided to organise their efforts and activities towards the common objective of bringing the community closer together in mutual support of one another.
After a great deal of formal and informal consultation, it was decided to form the Yemeni Community Association (YCA) as a vehicle that would articulate and manage these newly expressed aspirations and ambitions. Since its inception, the YCA has tackled numerous community issues through partnerships and co-operation with other statutory and voluntary organisations; i.e., Public Health’ Adult Social Care, Education and Community Service (SMBC); Youth Forum; Right Equality Sandwell; Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisation;
In 2004 the YCA with the assistance from New Deal for Communities (Greets Green Partnership) were able to purchase the Greets Green Access Centre where the organisation now hosts its staff, runs activities and services from as well as offers conferences facilities serving the whole of the community within and outside of Sandwell.
Furthermore, in 2013 the YCA were successful in tendering to run Lodge Community Centre a popular SMBC owned community centre within the heart of West Bromwich. The Lodge Community Centre further reflects the YCA inclusivity ethos, where the majority of its users are from non-Yemeni and Arabic speaking communities therefore truly serving all members of the community.
In 2015 the YCA’s advancement continued with the successful fundraising and building of the ‘YCA Cultural Centre’ which is adjacent to the Greets Green Access Centre. The YCA cultural centre was born out of demand from users wishing to have dedicated facilities to nourish their spiritual needs, as well as providing an oasis for younger and future generations to safely learn and maintain their Islamic identity in combination with their British identity. Again the YCA Cultural Centre reflects the YCA inclusivity ethos by having dedicated spaces for women and being open to the public and schools to facilitate community cohesion and break down barriers.