This week’s project is…Wheatley Hill Youth Club!
Name of project leaders
Kat Menhennet and Nicola Thacker
Describe a typical day/session as a Wheatley Hill volunteer
Volunteers usually meet outside the SCA office at 5:15pm on Wednesdays, and after collecting any equipment needed for the sessions we drive in the SCA car over to Wheatley Hill. On arriving in Wheatley Hill, there is usually at least twenty eager kids ready and waiting outside for us, between the ages of 4 and 16. After setting up, we welcome the kids in at 6, sit them down in a circle, introduce ourselves as volunteers and then set the rules and plans for the evening. Volunteers will then take part in some team games before dividing the children into two groups. There are usually different activities going on in each group and these can be anything from arts and crafts, team games and drama – after this, they will have some free time and they will then swap groups.
The youth club is in the early stages of development and we hope to be able to increase the variety of activities the club runs in the future. For example, in spring we hope to offer sports, when these cold, dark winter evenings are long gone! All activities are decided by the volunteers and young people, so there is a lot of flexibility and they’re always lots of fun. The youth club usually finishes at 7.30pm and volunteers will then arrive back at the DSU for 8pm, hopefully having had an enjoyable, memorable and rewarding evening!
What has been your favourite moment so far with your project?
My favourite moment of the project so far was during our second session. We arrived at the youth club and to our surprise, the children could remember all of our names from the previous week! The best bit, however, was when they told us “there’s another youth club in Wheatley Hill but they never speak or listen to us, just stick us in a room, that’s why we come to this youth club”. It was at this point that I realised how important the youth club was to the young people and how much they appreciated simply having us there, speaking, listening and having fun with them! It really made all of our efforts feel worthwhile, and we were so happy that we could make such a positive impact on the lives of children who have very few opportunities presented to them.
What would you say to someone who wants to join your project?
I would say that being involved as a volunteer at Wheatley Hill youth club may be a challenge, but will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have while at Durham. You are suddenly thrown out of the bubble that is Durham city and will experience first-hand some of the difficulties faced by those living on the breadline in the surrounding communities. You’ll come to realise that, while you may only be able to contribute a few hours of your time, the young people really value any help and time you can give. The youth club is a great chance to help them increase their aspirations for the future, have a safe, comfortable place to socialise and most importantly, have someone to talk to. However, the idea is that you also have fun! If you fancy escaping Durham for a couple of hours a week, having some fun and making a real difference in the lives of young people, please get in touch!
Finally, describe your project in three words…GO!
Wild, exciting, rewarding!
To get involved in Wheatley Hill Youth Club, email Nicola and Kat on firstname.lastname@example.org