FIFA, Flakes and friends
The room is filled with grime music. The boys chat, some play fight, two are playing FIFA on the X-box and another writes lyrics for his latest song. A group of girls gather and chat amongst themselves. I walk in, overwhelmed by noise, my eyes slowly adjusting to the dim light (the young people prefer it this way - it makes the FIFA screen brighter). Someone yells, “What food you got?” I respond by saying, “Flakes and the usual pint of milk!”
Every Tuesday, I am one of the youth workers at Chelmsley Wood where we deliver an Open Youth Club. We meet in a small, square-shaped room, which is often cramped for the number of young people who attend and is certainly not a spacious church hall with a pool table, a ping pong table and space for running about.
On one hand, I am often surprised that young people want to come to a small room simply to play Fifa, eat Flakes and hang out with their friends. However, on the other hand, there are so many great reasons why I believe this youth club is so important:
- Young people enjoy having safe spaces to play FIFA, eat flakes and be with their friends
- Young people feel responsible when they are provided with places they can call their own
- Young people benefit from spaces where they can tell their stories, ask questions and not feel judged
- Young people can grow from relationships with adults outside of their families, who that will value them, listen to them and be alongside them
- Young people can take part in additional trips and have opportunities to try new things because they belong to the youth club
- Young people are able to discover and develop their skills, gifts and talents
This list could go on and on!
I wonder, where did this happen for you? How did you spend your teenage years? When you were a teenager, where were the places you met with your friends and what did you do? Who were the significant adults that made those spaces available for you? What was especially important about those times in your life?
If you too can see the value in playing FIFA, eating Flakes and hanging out with friends, we would love you to support us. Perhaps you could give your time to help run a youth club. Perhaps you feel that your youth club days are behind you, but you could support us financially? £25 a month would provide those all important Flakes, or 1 hour of a youth worker's time to staff a youth club.