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Youth centres up and down the UK have been hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus and lockdown. In fact, a recent report by the National Youth Agency reported that 2,000 of the 10,000 youth projects in England will struggle to reopen following the loosening of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Local youthwork charity, Young Melksham, has been forced to close all four of their youth clubs since March and had to cease their face-to-face counselling service as lockdown kicked in.
However, the trustees and staff team at Young Melksham remain upbeat and confident about their ongoing detached youth work and their ability to reopen the youth centre once the rules allow.
During the lockdown period, Young Melksham expanded their detached youthwork project and had teams out working with any young people who were out and about when they shouldn’t be.
The charity also launched a new telephone support line for young people who were struggling with dealing with the impacts of the virus.
Since the initial easing of lockdown, Young Melksham have introduced new mobile youth club sessions, restarted face-to-face counselling and run limited summer holiday activities in The Canberra Centre.
According to the chair of trustees, Jon Hubbard, this has been possible thanks to extra grants awarded by Wiltshire Community Foundation (WCF). “Without the support of WCF we would never have been able to afford to continue working with young people during these difficult times,” Jon said. “As a result of their support we have been able to not only continue our work, but also adapt and develop our services.”
Lead Trustee for youth work, Jack Oatley said, “It was horrible the day we decided to close the youth clubs. I’m delighted that we are now able to get back out and reconnect with our young people. It has been a very challenging time over the past few months and I’m so proud of our team who have worked so hard in the past few months.
“Now that the schools are back, we are counting down to when we will be allowed to reopen the centre fully. Unfortunately, it seems that this may not be for a few months yet, so we are putting together plans for a mobile youth club in the park every week and to continue our detached youth work.”
Jon added, “Young people have had a really torrid time over the past few months, with the uncertainty of the exam results, closure of schools and facilities, and the challenges of social distancing. We are anticipating a significant increase in referrals to our Early Help programme in the next few months.
“What I am sure of, the whole team of trustees are determined to reopen a soon as we are safely able to do so. Jack, myself and all the trustees would like to really recognise the fantastic work that our staff team have done over the past months.
“We can’t wait to welcome the young people back into The Canberra Centre, the place feels empty without them!