As the evenings get longer and the sun is finally out, attention in London Youth member youth clubs turns to summer – and the lack of resources for holiday programmes. Despite the fact it comes round every year, it seems a surprise to people each July that there are a whole load of young people who will have nothing to do for six weeks.
The Cabinet Office’s National Citizens Service (NCS) is a great solution to this for 16 and 17 year olds and recognises the value of a summer holiday experience that develops young people’s confidence, character and commitment to social action. We deliver NCS in Hackney, Haringey and Tower Hamlets and see the impact that a summer making friends, taking part in adventurous activities and making a difference in your community has on young people.
But right across London I see younger teenagers and those transitioning to secondary school missing out on developmental summer opportunities that could be run at just a fraction of the cost of NCS.
Through summer programmes like these young people develop confidence and agency, resilience and determination and they strengthen their leadership skills and personal relationships. Being involved in structured but informal learning opportunities during the summer also makes it easier for young people to transition back into school in September – and gives them skills that build their future employment prospects.
For just £60 a head, WAC Arts in Camden could deliver a week long professional accredited arts programme for young people, inclusive of those with and without disabilities and providing pathways onto work experience in the creative industries.
For £150 a head, Knights Youth Centre in Lambeth could take a group of gang involved young people to experience adventure and team work at London Youth’s residential centre Hindleap Warren, building their confidence to do something more positive with their lives.
Even at The Calthorpe Project in Islington, where they run their sports programme as a successful social enterprise, generating revenue from hiring out their football pitch to local businesses to subsidise their youth provision, they are having to charge young people for their sports summer programmes this year, meaning many of those young people who need it most won’t be able to take part.
If these reasons weren’t enough, a lack of structured activities in the holidays means young people are instead left home alone with computer games or – far worse – out on the streets susceptible to anti-social behaviour and gang involvement.
I have spoken to eight youth clubs in the last week who tell me that this year they will not be able to run the summer programmes that they have done in previous summers due to lack of resources.
At London Youth we’re trying to do our bit to help; working in partnership to access pots of money for a small scale arts programme and engaging young people on our Build-it project in Lambeth, where they will bring empty homes back into use with local trades mentors, increasing their employability and giving something back to their communities.
But youth clubs need more support to make this valuable work happen.
- Summer programmes are cheap to run
- They save money on policing and community safety
- They build on existing year round community infrastructure and volunteering
- They prepare young people to be able to benefit from NCS when they are 16
- And they support young people to be the best they can be, whilst improving their prospects in formal education and employment
What will you do to support your local youth club summer programme this summer?