Beacon of hope for youngsters as team run Fun Club Hub sessions
In a decade of austerity millions of pounds have been cut from youth services.
More than 500 children’s centres in England have closed their doors in recent times including more than 30 council-run youth clubs lost in Staffordshire alone since 2010.
But a glimmer of hope shines through as dedicated youth workers have pledged to fill the gaping holes left by the cuts.
Liz Bacon and Kerry McCabe-Crowley co-founded Fun Club Hub, a youth service for 10 to 16-year-olds, in 2015 with help from Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services.
The pair continued to run the club after being made redundant by the cuts and have seen it go from strength to strength.
After starting out with just one youth club they now have six sessions a week which they run in Burntwood and Lichfield.
"We want to provide young people with enjoyable opportunities and challenging experiences, together with support and information to enable them to achieve their full potential and transition to adulthood,” says Kerry.
“Really it’s about empowering young people and getting them together in a safe place. We probably have about 40 to 50 kids a night come to us, we get to know them all and it’s like a family.”
The club is being supported by the county’s police and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis, who provides funding for the Space programme which offers free activities for young people during school holidays – and this is just one of many services they offer.
Fun Club also run a weekly group for girls to meet and learn new skills, designed with the issues women face in mind, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, volunteering placements, residential trips and a number of community get-togethers.
Last summer, the team behind the centre ran 19 family days and events for the community. “We try to be as diverse as we can be,” says Liz.
Their work to enhance youth provision doesn’t stop there, Fun Club is also training the next generation of youth workers who help support the clubs, from running the tuck shop, hosting activities and supporting local events.
“They are a dedicated team – since we opened more than 1,000 hours have been accumulated in volunteering hours,” adds Kerry.
“We are proud to have the younger generations working with us and want to give back to their communities and in the future we hope to offer an introduction to youth work so they can continue to learn.
“We wouldn’t be able to run the club without them.”
Fun Club’s Youth Forum is made up of a group of 10 elected young people who represent young people’s views to key decision makers in the area. Molly Cutler, aged 17, is from Burntwood is a member of the forum and a young leader.
She said: “We work in partnership with the Staffordshire Youth Commission to produce campaigns, such as one on anti-social behaviour – and the focuses for the coming year are youth violence, substance abuse and mental health. We try and raise awareness of modern day issues.
“Fun Club is about giving everyone the opportunities they want and getting young people’s voices heard.”
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