Hard to believe, but our SPACE Shot youth project in Ernesettle has just completed its first year, with 2 more to follow under the current Big Lottery Reaching Communities funding. During the year the Youth Team of Matt, Claire and Daisy has been aided by first Jet and now Wes from Plymouth YMCA, our Marjon placement student Jon; Jo, Matt and crew from Fotonow; Lauren, Kerrie and colleagues from Exim Dance; Ben from Devon FA, and artists Noah and Scott, all working to provide five weekly youth sessions and over 83 activity sessions, including everything from surfing to dance and deep sea fishing to soap making.
Over 100 young people have participated in SPACE Shot so far, with the original Wednesday night junior and senior sessions blossoming out to include Monday night young women's and young men's sessions and a late afternoon drop-in on Fridays. Visit the SPACE Centre on a Wednesday and the aroma of freshly cooked food fills the air, with many young people now involved in preparing the popular meals. Video games, art activities, board games and the clacking of pool balls on the new table provide the backdrop to conversation and the sharing of achievements, concerns and information, whilst the walls are covered in photos of recent activities and sign-up sheets for the next trip or excursion. This programme of activities really helped to cement relationships during the summer and presented new challenges for many of the young people involved:
“Since coming to the youth club and the activities I have done things I probably wouldn’t have done – like tree-surfing. I felt positive after doing this.”
On Monday's young people get the chance to spend time discussing issues important to them and planning events such as the recent young women's group weekend residential on Dartmoor, or the young men's group's regular diving sessions at Plymouth Life Centre. On Fridays, older young people may be seeking advice on sexual health matters or just taking the chance to share their experiences with a youth worker. One thing that's come through loud and clear is that young people in Ernesettle (and we feel, generally) really value a safe space to socialise with their friends and the presence of trusted adults whom they can talk to in confidence:
“I feel safe in the youthy, I know I can speak to the youth workers and it stays confidential.
One of SPACE Shot's aims is to counter the tendency of some young people to get into trouble through anti-social behaviour by providing alternative positive activities that help them find their true potential. It's sometimes difficult for adults to remember than young people often hang around in groups so they feel safe and that they are growing up and learning about life and how to behave as they go.
“We’re always asking each other “when’s the youthy on this week?” and “when’s youthy open?” We don’t have much else to do other than coming here. This place keeps us out of trouble and we’re not intimidating people here like we are at the shops. Coming here has helped me grow up more and act more mature too”
So, on to year 2 and more developments, including our first youth forum, more involvement of young people with their local community (after the success of last year's youth football 'world cup' at the Ernesettle Fun Day) and even more young people in Ernesettle taking advantage of the SPACE Shot 'youthy' and its exciting opportunities!