MINEHEAD’S youth club is to reopen with changes aimed at getting more children off the streets.
The club, at Minehead Eye, will be run by experienced youth worker Ché Percival who has working at youth clubs since 1994 and said he loves the job.
It will be aimed at youngsters aged ten to 19 who live in Minehead and will offer more than just somewhere to hang out.
Ché, who is also a DJ, said: “As well as all of the fun things that you’d expect at a youth club, like pool tables, games and music, I also like to do things which are beneficial to the kids.
“We get people in to give talks on issues affecting young people so, for example, healthy eating and living, exercise and anything that might be bothering them.
“It’s really great when you get the younger children in and then they stick with you until they are older because they go through a process.
“Some, when they first start, can be quite shy and we help them with their socialising and when they’re older it’s great to show them how far they’ve come, sometimes without them even realising it.”
The Youth Club will be run on Monday evenings, when the Eye is usually shut, meaning the whole space will be available to young people.
Ché added: “Having somewhere like the Eye to run a youth club is great because everything is there and ready for you.
“There’s a kitchen which means we can hold cookery evenings and we’re even planning on holding a smoothie evening to help promote healthy living.”
Naomi Griffith, director at the Eye, said: “We have had a youth club here before but now it is being held on a night when it’s not open to anyone else means that those coming can do more and feel like the space really belongs to them.”
Ché, 42, was involved with Minehead Youth Club when it started in 1994 before being asked to launch one in Watchet in 1999.
He added: “I had a bit of a troubled upbringing and the youth club made such a difference to me.
"I absolutely love my job and love doing something for the community.
“I think I’m on my third rotation of kids at Watchet now, and some of the older ones who have been with me since 11 have now become volunteers. It makes the job so rewarding.
“I do think there are a lot of clubswith things to do for children, particularly dance and drama, but these can be expensive.
“Everyone can afford to come along to the youth club and we’ll be doing different things each week,” he added.
Ché has plans to take the children on exciting trips to the cinema, swimming, to different skate parks and shopping centres.
He is now working hard to secure funding for a minibus so that the children can be taken on camping trips and to different places.
He added: “When they get to their late teens we make sure to give talks about sexual awareness, house and job hunting and drug and alcohol abuse.
“We want them to enjoy the youth club but also give them advice and support if they need it.”
Work is also starting on a mapping exercise, bringing together organisations in West Somerset which work with younger people to help try and provide more for them in the area.
Naomi said: “The West Somerset Youth Network, which was set up by the county council about a year ago, brings together organisations such as the Eye, other youth club providers and also businesses such as housing providers to see where there might be gaps in what we’re offering and what we can try and do.
“We want to get a strategic picture in place where we can ensure sustainability in the long term and not just for six months to a year. Government cuts have made it harder but there are grants available it’s just about applying for them and using them wisely.”
- Minehead’s Youth Club starts this Monday (January 20) at the Minehead Eye from 6.30pm-8.30pm.