Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Catch 22 - Helping Young People Out

Last week I took some great advice from a certain individual and logged on to the Wandsworth Volunteer Bureau. This led to me finding many organisations in and around Wandsworth that I (who has lived in Wandsworth my entire life) had never heard about before. In response to this I gave Catch 22 a call and found out about their work and offered to volunteer with them. The charity helps young people who have found themselves in difficult situations and offers a mentoring scheme which I am going to be apart of once my CRB is cleared. I've never visited a youth centre before and it was rather strange. As you enter theres that Byker Grove feel about it but no actual people anywhere to be seen. Thought this was probably to do with the fact right next door Base was open offering all the mod cons; computers, music rooms and even a 'juice bar'. Saying that the scheme seems brilliant and Lindsey (the trainer) was enthusiastic and clearly committed to providing a safe environment for young people in Wandsworth. We went through a few exercises, talking about what you should and shouldn't do with your mentees. The obvious being don't bring them to your house, don't give them money and some more merky subjects; gifts. I felt a little scare-mongered by the governments policy. If you lend a kid 10p then that can be used against you. Give me a break please. Honestly, its all tick boxing and 50 years ago this would not have been a problem.
So far I'm really impressed but of course I have a small problem. Its something which I have always thought but never had the opportunity or perhaps have always felt I needed to censor. Anyway getting to the point:

As a 21 year old who has lived in Wandsworth her entire life I've only experienced the 'Wandsworth community' once in my life and that was at Brownies. I remember a youth group opening just down the road from my house when I was about 13 but being the girl who went to the posh Catholic girls school I felt I did not have the right to be there. It has always felt for me that youth centres belong to the 'underprivelleged', if you can categorise that? I think this needs to change massively otherwise we will never be able to bridge the gap that continues to grow.
I'm very excited to start mentoring and finally being able to use my degree more constructively.