YWCA changes its name because of its Christian overtone
The U.K. Young Women’s Christian Association removed Christianity from its name recently, 156 years after the institution was founded, because of its faith connotation.
The YWCA, which has been the recipient of Christian funding for some 15 decades, is now Platform 51 which it feels more appropriately represents who it is, The Daily Mail said.
The organization, which was formed by two Englishwomen in 1855, chose its new name because it serves as a platform to help women speak out and move into the next stage in their lives, and because 51 percent of the population is female, the Telegraph said.
The change in name has reaped criticism from religious groups and caused a division between Platform 51 in England and Wales, and YWCA worldwide, The Daily Mail reported.
Sylvie Jacquat, spokesman for World YWCA, told The Daily Mail that none of the other 124 YWCA branches globally will do likewise noting, “The name has been there for more than 150 years and we are not even discussing a change. We see our name as an opportunity for promoting Christian values and principles.”
The Telegraph said Platform 51’s new name may cause issues with some of the donors of the charity, who donate because of the Christian character of the organization.
However, The Daily Mail noted that several charities in the U.K. have changed their Christian image so that they can get added funding from the government. The Telegraph cited, for example, Churches Action for the Homeless, which in 2009 changed its name because its religious quality was an obstacle in getting grants.
YWCA England and Wales said, “During the 156 years since we were founded, we’ve had to evolve to reflect changes in society and the needs and expectations of women. This is true not only of the work we do, but also of our name. Our original name no longer stood for who we are or what we do and people often confuse us with another charity,” The Daily Mail reported.
According to The Daily Mail, the ‘other charity’ could be the YMCA, which still is true to its original goal, which is to lend accommodation to youth. Platform 51 on the other hand seeks to “lobby for changes in the law and policies to help all women.”
The original founders of YWCA are Emma Roberts, who headed prayer groups, and Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird, who ran a hostel for nurses who were going to work for Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, The Daily Mail said.
The organization is still listed under the Church of England, but all its trustees are no longer from the church. Its chairman is gay rights activist Helen Wollaston, and its chief executive, Penny Newman used to head the Jamie Oliver Foundation, according to The Daily Mail.
Mike Judge of the Christian Institute told The Daily Mail, “Many believe there is an anti-Christian bias among those who decide which charities get state funding. It was the Christian character of the YWCA that made it great. It is a shame that it is turning its back on those values.”