YMCA to end 'muddying' link with Village People

The YMCA has revamped its comms team as it tries to distance itself from the iconic 1970s song by the Village People.

YMCA England has appointed NSPCC senior media officer Sarah Brown as head of external comms and Arthritis Care media relations manager Mo Atchia  as senior media officer.

They will spearhead a campaign focusing on the YMCA's work in health, housing and education.

'There are not many charities with such a recognised global brand,' said Atchia. 'But the association with the Village People muddies our image. We'd like to emphasise our real work.'

The charity is the UK's biggest provider of supported housing for the homeless and has received funding from the Government for its latest fitness campaign.

'The YMCA is a huge organisation that hasn't yet punched its weight,' said Brown. 'We'll be aiming to improve its national profile, because regionally the YMCAs are well known.' Brown and Atchia report to director of comms Josephine Carlsson, who joined a year ago from International Save the Children Alliance (PRWeek, 18 May 2005).

From 9-12 March the organisation will showcase a photography exhibition at London's Oxo Tower, entitled 'See It Like It Is'. The pictures taken by young people depict the relationships, opinions and lifestyles of  UK youth.

There are more than 150 YMCA offices in the UK, supporting the 162-year-old organisation's founding Christian principles.

Brown and Atchia replace Richard Capie and Sarah Birdsall respectively.

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