Since 1992, John Lyon’s Charity has awarded over £11million to support the youth clubs and youth facilities in the Beneficial Area. Support has been given as core running costs to ‘keep the lights on’, salary costs to ensure that there are qualified youth workers delivering high quality provision to young people and also as capital investments to maintain the infrastructure of local clubs and ensure that they are fit for purpose and appealing to young people. Over the past 23 years more than 300 youth clubs and youth projects have benefited.
Youth clubs exist in a particularly challenging environment; local authority funding is virtually non-existent, especially for core costs, which forces youth clubs to turn to other sources to secure income in order to remain open. Some local authorities are selling off properties to raise money, which presents a threat to the existence of individual youth clubs which depend on local authority premises to deliver their services. Finding staff with the relevant experience and training is also a problem, particularly for clubs without the funds to pay competitive wages.
With the Charity’s help, however, there are many youth clubs throughout the nine boroughs in the Beneficial Area that are thriving and delivering high quality, innovative youth work to vast numbers of young people.
Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre
Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre was established in 1969. It is located at the heart of the Regent’s Park estate and serves the whole of the West Euston area. After extensive fundraising (including £70,000 from John Lyon’s Charity) a brand new centre was inaugurated in January 2010. The current centre is state-of-the-art and one of the best equipped youth centres in Camden. Since 1994, the Centre has received £176,900 from John Lyon’s Charity towards capital and core costs.
Since its refurbishment, Samuel Lithgow Youth Centre has had a profound impact on the Regent’s Park area, one of the most disadvantaged in Camden. Its main services target disadvantaged young people aged 4-19 through two different youth clubs providing activities five days a week, as well as an after-school club. It also offers supporting activities to lone parents and under 5s, the unemployed, BME groups and women. The youth club has 780 active members and the Centre is always buzzing with youth people attending a variety of activities throughout the day. The Centre has an excellent reputation for the quality of its work and was the first youth club in London to achieve London Youth’s Gold Award for youth work.
The Pirate Castle was founded in a converted whisky store in the 1960s, a time of generous funding by Camden Council towards youth programmes. From their mock-Tudor base, the Castle offers a variety of water-based activities for local children, including trips on their two narrow boats. John Lyon’s Charity has been supporting the Pirate Castle since 1992; our first grant of £10,250 over three years, came at a time when with the Castle was experiencing substantial cuts in their funding from the council.
Since then, the Charity has awarded six grants totalling £308,000 for capital projects and core running costs. The reputation of the Pirate Castle is going from strength to strength and it has consolidated its position in the local community as a provider of adventurous and challenging activities for local young people – both on water and on land. It runs holiday activity sessions, drop-in activities, youth club and kayak club sessions and is increasingly working with local schools to deliver a variety of sessions.
Refugee Youth is a pioneering youth organisation that works with young refugees throughout London. It runs a very successful youth club in Harrow, Mustaqbal, which was set up by a group of young Somali women to fill a gap in current provision. The group is now mixed, with membership from a range of communities. The Club provides a variety of activities including film and debate nights, healthy eating and nutrition and wrestling coaching by the only professional Somali WWE wrestler!
Refugee Youth has also been working with Chalk Hill Youth Forum in Wembley to set up a summer scheme project working with young people who live on the Chalk Hill Estate. Since 2008, John Lyon’s Charity has awarded them grants totalling £74,000.