There are more than a hundred POP member projects supporting children and young people across the city. From Scouts and Brownies to sports clubs and wellbeing workshops with a veritable rainbow of projects in between they are all investing, not just in our young people, but in our communities. The commitment and dedication of those involved to sustain these projects and support our children is to be commended and, as a city, we should be extremely grateful to everyone involved. Building resilience in our young people, fostering positive relationships and providing much-needed support is an investment for all of us as families, as communities and as a city.
Examples of some of POP’s members’ initiatives include:
- The Tree Project using yoga and mindfulness to support children and young people’s health and wellbeing.
- Jeremiah’s Journey offers help for young people dealing with bereavement. The Football Boot Bank – the circular economy of football boots.
- Sailing Tectona giving opportunities for disadvantage young people to get out on the water.
- Creative Curiosity South West providing experiences for neurodivergent YP from toddlers to teenagers.
As a city we are also fortunate that the local authority has retained its youth service with a youth club in Efford and full-time youth workers in Efford, Honicknowle and Southway. What’s remarkable in Efford, is that there are teenagers going to the same youth club in the same building as their parents did more than twenty years before them. One of the youth workers, John Davies, says the work they do benefits the whole community:
“Over the years Efford has had a bad reputation, there’s been trouble with the young people and there have been issues but, the reality is that, without the youth club, there is nothing for them to do and nowhere for them to go. Some weeks we’re seeing between 40 and 50 young people and for many of them it’s the only place where they can talk and where they have someone to listen.”
Thursday evenings are the most popular night of the week when between 30 and 40 young people come from all over Plymouth. It’s a great place to hang out, not least, because there’s always something going on… whether that’s karaoke; coding; online gaming or playing football with players from Plymouth Argyle’s Community Trust.
Professional footballers from Argyle are leading on the Premier League KICKS programme for young people in thirteen different locations across the city every week. Just on a Thursday evening there are six sessions taking place including those here in Efford youth club and at Plympton’s Rees Centre.
For those who are more inclined to work with their hands, the Efford youth club has an amazing digital suite complete with Xboxes; Macs and coding machines. Digital Youth Work is now as important a part of the service as football. Rachel Dawe has been employed by Plymouth City Council as an Online Youth Worker with responsibility for all things ‘digital’. It is also her role to run online safety workshops to try and ensure that young people might be ‘safe’ online. Online or on the street, it is a core part of the youth service’s commitment that youth clubs are a ‘safe space’ for people between the ages of 16 and 19, raising awareness and encouraging greater responsibility of matters which also include sexual health and drugs & alcohol.
Outside of the youth club nights there is a wide variety of sports & activities taking place across the city for young people from the age five to twenty-five. Plymouth Street Games provides sessions free-of-charge or at low cost with particular emphasis on encouraging ‘youth leadership’. From boxing in Chaddlewood to cricket in Honicknowle: basketball in Eggbuckland to dance in Stonehouse there is a session taking place somewhere in the city with a focus on fun, enjoyment and social interaction on any night of the week.
4 Me and My Friends
Efford youth club also hosts three different age-related clubs for young people from all over the city on the autistic spectrum called 4 Me and My Friends. A government-funded project, jointly run by the Plymouth Youth Service, City College, Routeways and Friends & Families is now in its second year introducing the young people from the groups to a range of employment opportunities available to them in Plymouth. The young people have been to Poole Farm (farming & education); Horizons (sailing); Blue Sound Diving (diving & photography) and the National Marine Aquarium (marine biology).