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Why the youth club mattered to me

July 13th, 2011

My friends and I used to look forward to the day when we would be old enough to go to youth club. Back then it was held in St Barnabus church and I went every week for 2 years.

The reason we liked it so much was because it was a place where everyone mixed. There were no other places in Dulwich where it was possible to do that. Kids from others schools would go to the club and so it was possible to make friends with people that we wouldn’t ordinarily have socialised with. I know that there’s often rivalry between students at different schools, but there wasn’t so much of that in my area, and I think youth club had a lot to do with that.

Youth club was good because it wasn’t as structured as school – everything was run in a very informal and ad hoc way, but there always ended up being something fun going on. The best thing was playing rugby on the field – we used to play girls versus boys. Naturally, the girls always won. Football was fun too.

The people who ran youth club were amazing – really friendly and approachable. I remember that there was a little room where you could talk to them in private if you had any problems or concerns. It was really great to know that we could access that support if we needed it, from people who knew us on a personal level. We saw them as friends rather than authority figures.

Youth club was a big part of my youth. Without it I think we would have just hung out on the streets, causing trouble and getting bored. Everyone assumes that young people these days just want to loiter about or stay at home playing computer games and spending hours on social media sites, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. We’d much prefer to be active, engage in face-to-face interaction and use our time in productive ways, but there just aren’t many spaces in which young people can do this. Youth club addresses a real unmet need, and I hope it continues to thrive for years to come.”

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