We can support young people to face the future thanks to support we’ve received since March

When the future looked bleak, the Government’s Covid Emergency Fund gave us a lifeline - to retain Lead Youth Worker Brad and cover running costs, despite loss of income from the River Festival and room hire. With such uncertainty and fear for the future, it was essential to be able to provide support for our 70 regular members. With lockdown, school closure and loss of social contact it was inevitable that existing issues would be exacerbated and new ones created. 

Through a combination of online 1:1 sessions, real-time quizzes and phone calls, Lead Youth Worker Brad was able to keep in touch and find out how young people had been affected. A highlight was a very carefully managed barbeque evening, made possible through Worcestershire Community Foundation funding for Youth Worker Jordie to return from furlough. She and Brad worked hard to support individuals during lockdown and also volunteered to support families of SEN children through the ‘Here to Help’ scheme.

In August we took full advantage of our setting to offer socially distanced Activity Weeks. The whole team returned from furlough and could really start to make a positive difference to young people seeking support for a whole range of issues, including disengagement from education, exam uncertainty, results confusion and fears for the future. Throughout the weeks staff were on-hand to pick up on any wider concerns and offer 1:1 coaching, supported by Tesco’s Bags of Help.

Armed with sanitiser, PPE and an approved Covid safety plan, we set up pre-booked 1:1 sessions in the Centre, then groups of up to 3 on the decking. As restrictions eased and Centre Manager Abi returned, we make greater use of our outdoor space. Thanks to Eckington Open Gardens Committee and Wychavon District Council lending us gazebos, we could keep going through the heatwave and storms! Finally, we can now run sessions of up to 15 in the building. We could not have done all this without our fantastic cleaners Beth and Bob. Also the core team of Trustees voluntarily spending many hours working to get us ready to re-open: planning and rigorously testing all of the Covid-related procedures, decluttering, disposing, repairing, renovating, jet washing, managing re-decorating, and fundraising.

Everyone enjoyed the outdoor fun and games, particularly watersports provided by Bonkers Activities, and the session run by FROGS, our new Youth Leadership Team

Kate from Click Collective brought out everyone’s creative side with stencilling, including very colourful
personalised t-shirts.

While empty we had scope to deep-clean and re-paint the social area, meeting room and music room. Purple walls and bar stools were requested by youth club attendees!

The music room is now fully re-equipped with a grant from the  Wychavon Community Grants. It is fabulous to see the graffiti boards on the walls, as these were completed in what turned out to be the last youth session before lockdown. Music sessions coming soon!

Pre- Covid, the Friends of Pershore Hospital generously funded a new Healthy Living project. Although cookery lessons are currently on hold, everyone is delighted to see a new, fully functioning cooker, microwave and other kitchen equipment, plus bar stools, all ready for sharing life skills and developing healthier eating habits.

Throughout this whole period, local supermarkets have been very generous. Worcester Waitrose has continued to supply food for youth work sessions. Asda & Tesco’s have provided fresh food through the Fare Share scheme for young people facing ‘holiday hunger’ and, thanks to two volunteers, has been distributed to Pershore families struggling to access shops while caring for family members with additional needs. Does anyone remember our Easter Bunny Terri delivering eggs around town as lockdown started?!

We are maintaining the momentum and looking to the future. Pershore Rotary has funded us to take the first steps in re-furbishing and equipping a redundant room to support online learning, 1:1 personal and career development.

We are looking forward to bringing this tired space to life not only for youth work but also as a a bright room for local groups to hire.
A donation from Pershore Civic Society will help us to create and use this room as a flexible multi-generational space for more of the local community to experience the benefits of Pershore’s Riverside Centre.

Looking to the future for young people in Pershore, although there is great uncertainty about courses, apprenticeships and employment, we can help in very positive ways -whatever an individual’s starting point. Our EU-funded Pathways Scheme. Over the past few months, the first group of 16-24 year-old NEETS (not in employment, education or training) have completed this scheme. All 5 have been coached to create good CVs, gained confidence and focus, developed interview techniques, and then been successful in securing work or college courses. We have funding for up to 15 more places on this scheme. This may be combined with a new 6-month Traineeship Scheme with Worcester County Council, including funded travel from Pershore. We are about to start running the Prince’s Trust Achieve Programme, supported by Wychavon District Council. This accredited personal development programme provides a practical approach to learning for 13-18 year-olds struggling with school or at risk of dropping out. To find out more call the Helpline 07391 974 790.