It used to be several cowsheds but for the last twenty years the Beckly Centre in Radford Park has been a much-needed safe place for young people and their families. Run by the Plymouth-based charity, Routeways, every Saturday and alternate Thursdays there is a youth club, along with a holiday club, for children between five and eighteen who have complex additional – medical or behavioural – needs. Sitting on the edge of the beautiful grounds of the former Radford Estate, the location of the Beckly Centre enables young people to have fun and enjoy themselves in a unique environment: friendly, caring and supportive.
As Lucy Clarke the service manager for Routeways explains, it can be the first time that some of the young people have felt able to ‘be themselves’:
“It gives them a safe space and the reassurance that they can be whoever they are all in a place that’s understanding of them and without any expectations on them.”
For some of the children that come to the Beckly Centre this can be incredibly empowering and very different to that which they experienced before:
“I imagine it must feel quite isolating but when you come to our sessions they might, for the first time, see other people who are like them.”
Over the last year Routeways has helped more than a hundred families across the city giving children and young people with complex additional needs the chance to socialise with their peers and have time away from home while, at the same time, providing parents and carers some respite:
“Just to know that every Saturday you’ve got three hours,” says Lucy, “where you can go and do your own thing and not have to worry about the young person is a break and gives them some time where they can just breathe.”
For more information about the work of Routeways contact 01752 300700 or visit www.routeways.org.uk