David Naismith

  • David Naismith, the evangelist, visited Paisley in 1832 and as a result, established an organisation in Paisley called “Paisley Young Men’s Sabbath Morning Society for Prayer and Religious Purposes”.
  • This became Paisley YMCA in 1874/5. There had been another YMCA in Paisley prior to 1874 but this had been dissolved, their ex-members had no objections to the name being used by the organisation established in 1832.
  • David Naismith’s organisation brought together young men each Sunday for prayer and bible study and during the week these young men participated in sports, clubs, and other leisure and recreational activities.

Paisley YMCA – the old days

  • Throughout the 19th century and the early 20th century Paisley YMCA grew. By 1932 twenty nine branches met each Sunday in churches.
  • Each branch had it’s own football team and a programme of activities based on the interests of it’s members.
  • During the summer, camps were arranged involving other YMCAs.

New Building – 5 New Street

  • During the early years of the 20th century the 29 branches combined resources and raised funds to build a purpose built YMCA centre in Paisley’s High Street and New Street.
  • The Paisley YMCA headquarters moved from Causeyside Street to 39 High Street which was started in 1906 and was completed and opened in 1908.
  • The building incorporated 3 premises that have housed a butchers, a bank, a curtain shop and now today a charity shop and a credit union.

The Demise of the Branches

  • For many years the branches continued to meet in their local churches and used the central YMCA building at New Street for larger gatherings and special activities, this changed during the war years.
  • By the 1960s many of the branches had disbanded. Only one branch (Carlton), which was started in the 60s and based at the Central building, remains today.


  • In 5 New Street we had many groups using the building including Bowlers, Boxers, Sequence Dancers, Martial Arts Groups and many more
  • Now in 39 High Street we will be redeveloping programmes for young people and offering lets for community groups throughout Renfrewshire

Youth Development

Youth Work

  • Youth Work has always had a central focus in the New Street building.
  • From the Dances and sporting activities established in the 60’s and 70’s to promoting work with young people in careers and IT, social gatherings, sports programmes, religious meetings.
  • Paisley YMCA continues to have a heart for young people and their development.

Youth Work Initiatives

  • In 2003 in partnership with the Rank Foundation a local volunteer was selected to become a Trainee Youth Worker.
  • The remit focussed on Centre Based Youth Work , developing volunteers and maintaining annual activities, while following an intensive correspondence Degree course in association with YMCA George Williams College.
  • In July 2008, Lizzie McLean successfully completed her studies and achieved a BA in Informal and Community Education.
  • Paisley YMCA has provided many young people with opportunities to realise their potential. These include a Baptist Minister, an R.E. Teacher and a Victim Support Co-ordinator.
  • Paisley YMCA meets young people in their community , on their terms, builds relationships and trust, identifies need through negotiation and provides appropriate programmes that meet these needs.
  • This is most appropriately demonstrated in our Detached Youth Work.

Detached Youth Work

  • In the past Paisley YMCA has operated in partnership and as a stand alone organisation to provide Detached Youth Work across Renfrewshire.
  • From the successful programmes incorporating CAP and Thrushcraigs. Young people have had their needs met and become more informed as to their role and responsibility in the community and beyond.
  • Detached Youth Work continues to be a vital tool in reaching young people in the margins of our society.

The Hut, Renfrew

  • Following the unfortunate closure of Renfrew YMCA, Paisley YMCA was asked to undertake a Youth Audit that identified the need for youth provision in Renfrew.
  • The previous General Secretary, John McMurray, approached local churches seeking volunteers with a passion for young people to begin a process in meeting the audit’s outcomes.
  • The Hut Youth Project began as a drop-in, in a shop front in 3 Dunlop Street in 2002.
  • During the initial years, numbers grew and the decision was taken to look for larger premises. We are now based in 3 Canal Lane.
  • The Hut primarily operates as a drop-in however we are now focussing our programme to address identified needs in the community.
  • The project has decided to explore the option of becoming an independent YMCA (April 2011).

The Future

  • Detached Youth Work Initiative – Paisley Town Centre, Summer 2011.
  • Partnership with Mary Russell School including direct curriculum input, social enterprise, work experience, social and personal development.
  • Joint initiative with Housing Association delivering young peoples’ tenancy agreement training.Seeking to provide Town Centre facilities for individuals, groups and organisations.


Mark Drummond
Operations & Development Manager

Heather McLean
Administration Assistant

Tel – 0141 889 2876

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