Rhyl Youth Group in North Wales provides a safe place for young people to go in the evening and provides a range of engagement activities, including various sports. Group leader Marie Mitchell tells us more…
“Our club provides a safe, fun place for young people to attend with no judgement. We are different because young people can access our sessions as and when they want. They can come in their school uniform if they want and no one is judging what clothes/shoes they wear or their parents can afford.
There is no other youth group in West Rhyl that is open to anyone over the age of 6/7, which means young people don’t have to travel. It was set up because the local police recognised the benefits it provided when it was in another location and they didn’t want to lose the opportunity for young people in this area. They asked us to extend our sessions to Friday evenings, as we were originally only ran sessions on Wednesdays.
The social issues we aim to tackle are numerous. Poverty is of course something across the board in a lot of areas, but from this comes a lack of opportunity for trips, sporting opportunities – as the leisure centre is the other side of town – challenging behaviour issues, a safe area to play as they are often just wandering round the streets getting into trouble for anti-social behaviour, parental apathy and barriers towards the police.
Our young people benefit because they are involved in the decisions of the group, such as which sport to play, what equipment to buy, which trips to attend – it gives them a voice where they previously had none. They are listened to and their opinions count. Most of our young people just say, for example, they just want to have a kick about rather than a more formal structure. Or they want to play dodgeball, or both, they like to choose what they play rather than being told what they must play. They also attend free of charge, the trips are free and they get food.
Our main aim for the future is to give these young people opportunities to just have fun, engage and be empowered to make choices and be involved in their club. We’re aiming to get bigger premises as we don’t really advertise because of lack of space. Our attendance of around 50 young people each week is purely word of mouth. During wet times or winter we are restricted and it is getting harder to accommodate so many young people. We have also been asked by the police to engage with teens and one of our peer mentors suggested a later session of just age 13-plus as our wide age range may put some teens off. We are working to try and accommodate this at the moment.”