Somerford Youth and Community Centre

by Jae Harris in Christchurch, England, United Kingdom

Somerford Youth and Community Centre
We did it
On 22nd February 2019 we successfully raised £13,570 with 34 supporters in 37 days

We want to raise funds to purchase new equipment for the youth club and to put on activities which our young people are unable to afford.

by Jae Harris in Christchurch, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Provide more activities and training opportunities for young people 

I work with an amazing team of people who are dedicated volunteers who collectively deliver over 13,000 hours of volunteering each year to make the centre thriving and safe resourceful place for young people to come to. 

As an independent local charity, we took over the youth club just over 2 years ago when it was passed to community ownership by the Local Authority as part of their funding cuts. 

The centre is in Christchurch, Dorset and is located on an estate which has high levels of multiple deprivation and is one of Dorset's most deprived areas. 

Our aim is to improve futures for the local young people by providing services, activities and resources that enable young people to have greater positive futures in their lives. This may be through providing activities which build self esteem and confidence; encouraging young people to participate which reduces loneliness and isolation; helping young people to achieve by doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award or UK Youth Achievement Award; by providing a safe space for them where there may be issues of high tension and stress occurring in the home place. More recently we have noticed an increase of young people coming to the centre who have high levels of poor mental health with instances of depression, anxiety, self harming and suicidal thoughts on the increase. In order to understand this more I have undergone training with Mental Health First Aid England to acquire tools and techniques around how best to support young people with poor levels of mental health, as well as training as a trainer to deliver this training to other people. 

We are currently engaging young people to be a part of delivering the work we do whether this is as a volunteer or part of a steering group of young people to advise us of what direction to move in based on the needs and wants of local young people. 

We also believe part of our work is pioneering as we aim not to work with young people in isolation. Quite often the behaviour some young people display is a reaction to something from a different time and a different place. An example of this is stresses at home. Families who live in crisis situations sometimes have greater need and in some cases the need goes unmet. To develop a greater understanding of the issues families face we undertake some wider family support where we offer family day trips during the school holiday; we run a community breakfast every fortnight on a Saturday morning and more recently we have set up the People's Pantry which is a community food membership project where we have good to eat food delivered to us which though a membership fee the community can come and shop for once a week. After just 10 months of operation, the Pantry has a membership of 450 people with 200 people visiting it every week and us passing on approximately 13,000 kg of food each week which is good to eat but would have been destined for landfill. This project has allowed us to help more families in need, help signpost them onto other services and has bought new young people to engage with us at the centre. 

Ultimately my personal drive with this and young people is to increase their resilience. The network of support services has notably decreased over the past few years and in my opinion it is likely to continue to decrease. Therefore it is imperative that they work undertaken with communities and especially young people helps them to understand their lives and their position in society and build up the skill of bouncing back in the face of adversity. 

The bigger challenge for me and our organisation is that we cannot continue to grow as we are and rely on those who have the time and passion to undertake this work. When we took over the centre we got an asset worth 1.4 million pounds which is fantastic but funds are needed to do something with it. The majority of our funding is through grants and the majority of this gets spent on building costs, equipment and running the activities. Very little goes on staffing. Funders generally do not like paying out for staff costs but we need to find a way to change this view, especially for our organisation and other organisations like us. At a time when we are taking on a lot of the work that had once been provided by the statutory sector then obtaining funds to staff the continuation of such work should be a fairly simple process - however, the reality couldn't be further away. 

In the meantime our young people still want a pool table to play on, a basket ball to shoot, the chance to go camping, swimming, bike riding and they most certainly have the right to have a space that is safe for them, friendly, non-judgemental and most of all provides fun . This is what this campaign is for and what we hope you will support us to achieve. 


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

A club thank you

A thank you emailed out to those who pledge £10

£25 or more

£25 reward

A personalised thank you card posted out to those pledging £25

£50 or more

£50 Reward

A keepsake item made especially for those who pledge £50

£100 or more

£100 Reward

A personal thank you added to our supporters and sponsors page which will be created on our website and the chance to have your picture on the site.

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