09/03/2016 06:51 GMT | Updated 09/03/2017 05:12 GMT

Making YMCA's Manifesto - A Voice For Communities in Wales

It's that time again. The starting pistol is set to sound on another Assembly Election and politicians are about to start their customary mass exodus from Cardiff Bay to join the campaign trail.

Across the length and breadth of Wales they will go, devoting more resources than ever to court the votes of the public from now until 7 May, when the people will finally choose their representatives.

However, after working with young and vulnerable people across the country since 1852 - and working in tandem with 42 Prime Ministers, five Ministers of Welsh Affairs, 20 Secretaries of State and three First Minsters of Wales on the way - YMCA has too frequently seen the voices and needs of the communities we exist to serve go unheard.

More than 10,000 people came through our doors in Wales last year. However, because they are young, because they don't have anywhere to call home, or because they find themselves marginalised or isolated from mainstream society, perspective politicians can miss them out in their drive to gain votes.

To address this, we've been working across the country to create our YMCAs in Wales Manifesto, which we'll be launching tonight (9 March 2016) at the Pierhead, in Cardiff Bay.

Six months in the making and involving nearly 500 young people, service users, staff and volunteers from across 11 different focus groups, 48 recommendations have been made across five key policy areas. It total, 36 pages have been written to create our communities' very own Manifesto for Wales. This is not YMCA's view; it is theirs.

Every recommendation we put forward has come from the needs of the young and vulnerable people we spoke to; whether it be around equipping young people with the life skills and resilience they need to flourish or creating more low-cost homes, building on the success of YMCA's Y:Cube housing project in south west London.

Today, the communities YMCA represents are having their say and tonight they will speak directly to Assembly Members who, if successful in the Election, will have the unenviable task of marrying the needs of people in Wales to the difficult decisions we all know have to be made around public services, due to the continuing economic pressures.

And the reason we have done this is simple: we are YMCA. We could not stand by and allow our communities to go unheard. As one young man said in our focus groups leading up to today, "young people have to live longest with decisions that get made" and indeed they do.

It is our role to speak out and stand up for the young and marginalised individuals we serve on the issues that affect their lives, and help them to find confidence in their own voice.

YMCA is now calling on the next Welsh Government to take forward these recommendations to transform lives and communities all over Wales.

Read the YMCAs in Wales Manifesto.