Stirchley & Brookside Youth Club
Stirchley & Brookside Youth Club
SYA supports youth clubs and the volunteers across Shropshire. These clubs often provide a hub for young people to make friends, build confidence and sadly escape their situation at home.
Without the youth clubs, volunteers and our staff at SYA know many would turn to crime, anti-social behaviour and face their battles alone.
Stirchley & Brookside Youth Club, based at Brookside Central, is just one of our collaborative projects where SYA teamed up with Stirchley and Brookside Parish Council to bridge the gap for youngsters in the area.
Here SYA talks to youth club leader Devon about his thoughts on the project:
What were the problems and how were they resolved?
Upon speaking to the nearby community, Devon discovered that the main problem was that large groups of young people were congregating together with nowhere to go. There were also reports of antisocial behaviour. As a result of these problems, he made it his mission to provide a safe and friendly environment for young people to come to, and that place was Stirchley & Brookside Youth Club.
“It was very much a community profile in the beginning to make the young people aware of the club such as seeing me walking around the area with my lanyard. I was also able to make good contacts with the local schools, such as the Telford Park School in Stirchley.
“I went out to introduce myself to local businesses and community groups to tell them what my role was and to get their views and opinions of young people as it was important to find the main issues for young people such as the relationship with the police,” he said.
However, more problems rose to the surface once membership forms had been filled in. As Brookside is considerably high on the list of most deprived areas in the UK, many individuals have a lack of access to provisions such as public buses and there is a high level of food poverty.
“51% of primary school kids and 49% of secondary school kids were on free school meals when I first started and I’m sure the numbers have gone much higher with Covid.
“When I found out about the level of food poverty I nearly fell off my chair, I couldn’t believe it. Once I’d got that information I said to the manager that during each youth club session there should be an element of food so at least when they come to the club we can give them some fresh fruit, toasties and hot healthy foods.”
Who is SYA and how did it help?
The SYA is a Shropshire-based charity which runs youth groups and youth projects alongside helping local youth clubs to get set up and keep going through the support of donations, resources and training opportunities.
Whilst working with SYA initially enabled the Stirchley and Brookside Youth Club to get set up and going, the support offered by the organisation has continued; enabling the youth club to offer a range of activities – through the availability of equipment to hire – and also helping to make sure that the youth workers and volunteers have access to adequate training.
“Our partnership with SYA is really good and we work quite closely with them. SYA has a resource pack that we can access and they also offer free training to volunteers. This helps us to make sure that our volunteers can make and achieve personal development targets.”
Alongside the support offered by SYA , local schools also contribute towards the success of the club, bringing resources together to plan meaningful activities for the summer holidays – a time where children and young people were often left to their own devices.
“Once we find out the needs of young people we try to develop our plan. Playing is fine but my argument is, what will young people achieve?
“We spoke to nearby schools to find out what would be needed to plan suitable summer activities for young people. The schools have been instrumental in helping to put things together as we used to be able to go in at lunch times and promote the provisions that we could offer during half term.”
What happens during the school holidays?
In a further attempt to help with the level of food poverty in the area, particularly during Covid-19, the youth club makes sure that it can provide those who attend with at least one hot meal a day.
“Every school holiday we provide meals and activities for children and young people. I know that we can’t cater to everybody in that band but at least some of the families in need wouldn’t have to worry about feeding their children as we would provide them with a hot meal during the day.
“We also do cooking workshops with the young people where they can learn recipes and how to cook and then take the meal home with them. It can feed a family of four or five. During the lockdown, we couldn’t do the cooking workshops so every half term or holiday that landed in the lockdown we made sure that we provided food parcels that were substantial enough to last over a week.”
What else does Stirchely and Brookside Youth Club offer?
Through the relationship with local schools, the group has been able to set up monthly visits from school nurses so young people can see them in confidence.
“Some of the young people said that when they had issues where they had to see the school nurse, the teachers subsequently found out and passed it back on to the parents which in turn discouraged them from seeking help from the school.
“We were able to speak to the school nurse and managed to set it up for them to come to the club once a month so young people can get help and advice, such as access to the C-Card, sexual health advice as well as other health issues they may have, it’s about empowering young people.”
What impact has this provision had?
When discussing the impact that the youth club has had on the community, Devon said: “For me it’s had a massive impact, not just on young people but a lot more parents have been coming out and talking to us which is amazing.
“The impact of the youth provision has given young people the opportunity to access positive activities in a safe and friendly environment, to have fun, learn new things, and gain life skills. Young people can achieve accredited outcomes and sometimes soft outcomes. The young people know that they can attend the provision, to participate in the activities and programmes that they have planned.
Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic has been a hindering factor preventing the progression of the youth club and there’s still a lot of plans still waiting on the drawing board.
“Next year I aim to develop the work we do in partnership with nearby schools. We need to be looking at ways of building bridges as there needs to be some stability and consistency to achieve this.”