Very much alive

by Roy Peach, Youth Leader

If anyone should ever question whether youth work is still a ‘thing’ then I strongly suggest you point them in the direction of Kennington Youth Club.

Three years ago our building was closed, it had been for a year, and there was no sign of it reopening. In fact, when I applied for the job it was hinted that if I wasn’t the right person for it, then it was likely it would never reopen.

And so it was that Kennington Youth Club (KYC) was reborn.

Two weeks in we were at full capacity with a waiting list. We physically couldn’t take more into the space. Three months in, we were accredited. Three years on, as a lengthy period of closure beckoned due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had two choices. We either close the doors, bury our heads in the sand, and wait for this to blow over, or we adapt and overcome, seeking new ways to provide youth work.

This cocoon period has proven something. First off, it’s cocoon time, not lockdown, because with a cocoon, something glorious always emerges.

What has happened for KYC is this.

We have offered fortnightly virtual youth club to our current members and we have opened up a wellbeing hotline available to all young people in the village. Doesn’t sound much, does it? But that was initially. Now we’ve found our feet, here’s what’s happening.

We’ve not only offered these services to the young people in the village but we’ve provided food parcels to those in need (vulnerable and the elderly), set up a weekly online quiz to bring in much needed funds, registered for Amazon Smile, arranged a scarecrow competition open to all families in the village, and we’re about to launch competitions for all young people to get involved with that have some great prizes attached.

Last night we held a restaurant themed evening from the comfort of our own homes with our young people on video call, all dressed up, completing food related challenges, having had one of our older volunteers spend their daily exercise delivering parcels to each household – they’d made cakes for each child too! Everyone is pulling together and playing a part, and no matter how big or small that part may be, the dedication to keep services available is outstanding.

As you will have seen, we’ve also been fortunate enough to secure a social media coordinator which is one less task for our team to have to worry about, meaning we can focus much more on ground work, leaving getting the info out to somebody who has more expertise than we have combined.

After three years of wanting to be able to develop the club even further, this period of ‘down time’ is actually allowing us to spend the time needed to review our current provision and what it will look like in the future.

Key lessons for anyone reading
Ask. Simply ask for help. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Be pro-active. If you want it to work, it will work.
Communicate. Shout from the rooftops what you are doing.

It’s an exciting time and we’re really looking forward to what the future may hold, especially as we are aiming to develop our youth voice further, so if somebody tells you youth work is dying, I’d say, come to KYC. Sure, we’re not in the hall, but we are just as alive and kicking as we’ve ever been with a real sense of excitement for what may be just around the corner.