by Roy Peach, Youth Leader
It’s two years ago exactly (almost to the minute) that I was appointed as the Youth Leader at Kennington. It’s amazing to think where the time has gone.
It was a strange appointments process for me, but has had a huge impact on my life. At the time I was just in the process of qualifying as a Youth Worker having taken the unenviable route of Open University study. It wasn’t a bad experience. OU were amazing in terms of supporting me but studying in every spare hour (which was very few) whilst working full-time was a real challenge. As we were told by the vice-chancellor at graduation, ‘people presume study with the Open University is part-time; it’s not. The hours you put in whilst also working is the equivalent of working two full-time jobs’. That’s always stuck with me.
So, two years on, what’s going on? (Oooh, I’m a poet and I didn’t know I could be). Quite a lot really. When I was first invited to look at the space, it was a white box. Today it’s a multi-coloured hub of glorious laughter, learning, and fun. Within two weeks of opening we were full with a waiting list. Three months in, we had received accreditation proving we’re an amazing youth club that has all relevant policies, procedures, and programme requirements in place.
Immediately we welcomed in a new Chair and Treasurer, who remain to this day and do sterling work. We’ve supported lots of young people, offered amazing experiences at the hall on week nights, sleepovers, and trips away, and just last year we welcomed more helpers to the committee with a new Secretary and Fundraising Co-ordinator, whilst others took up further roles and commitments such as Trustees.
Just this year we launched our Youth Cafe for the older years which is already well attended, and plans are formulating for the 2019-2020 year. Parental help is on the increase too which makes life easier for everyone and we are in a really strong position.
As I stood in the hall two years ago, being the Youth Leader at this small village hub felt like a scary new adventure – I didn’t know what to expect. I’d been involved in youth work for 15 years at this point whether that was education or voluntary roles and never had a problem. How was this different? Very quickly I found out, and two years on I look back on what has been an amazing period of my life.
Running KYC has helped me improve my health, it’s helped me regain a lot of my confidence which I had lost, and has developed my skill set. I’d never completed buildings and maintenance reports and access audits before in my life. I’m starting to learn a lot about Health and Safety and building regulations, and whilst it might not be the best part of the job, it’s essential to ensure that we are running a provision that we can be proud of and the young people can benefit from. I’ve become a dab hand with a paint brush, toilet brush, and first aid kit too.
I’ve been asked how far will KYC develop? How big’s the imagination and how much do people want to support it, I suppose?
Thanks to everyone who’s made the last two years fly by!