New Hope Springs Again for Holywell’s Youth
Hope 37 Youth Trust
Hope37 Youth Trust, a Christian Charity, began in September 2006 aiming specifically at reaching socially excluded young people in Holywell, North Wales. Holywell and its surrounding areas have a population of almost 12.500 people, of which approximately 4,500 – one third – are young people aged 12-25.
Holywell Central is one of the 25% most deprived areas in Flintshire and one of the 10% most deprived places in North Wales; in some areas over 50% of children are living in poverty (according to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation). A survey1 carried out by Communities First found that over 70% of the young people in Holywell, say they have no-one to talk to about the issues they face, such as family breakdown, eating disorders, self-harm, depression, low self worth, loneliness, bullying and abuse. Hope37 Youth Trust set out to enable young people to address these problems. They did so by giving young people someone to talk to, showing them that they are loved and valued, and most important of all – that they have Hope. In short, Hope37 has been established in order to provide young people with:
• Support in ethical, spiritual and relational areas enabling them to make wise lifestyle choices
• Provide the opportunity for the building of effective and meaningful relationships
• Provide Support and Advocacy on their behalf
• Provide education, training, encouragement and opportunity for them
• To lovingly challenge their attitudes, assisting development into mature and responsible individuals
Hope37 began by doing detached work in the Town Centre, going out onto the streets, where the young people were and making themselves available to them. Many young people were hanging around in groups engaged in under-age drinking, taking drugs or anti-social behaviour and we wanted to challenge those conducts. This was achieved by taking hot chocolates out to the young people, providing a way in to the groups of young people and enabling us to talk to them and, more importantly, to listen.
This grass-roots project led to the creation of the Hope Shop Drop-In based out of our offices in the town centre. We provided a safe space for young people, off the streets, after school and three evenings per week. It was a place where they could come in and simply be themselves, whilst also having qualified youth workers on hand to listen to them. This project grew to be very successful and eventually led to our moving out into our current premises and establishing the Hope Cafe in the town centre.
Having additionally established some links in Holywell High School, we ran lunchtime drop-in sessions for vulnerable pupils who needed someone to listen to them. Further, we ran clubs for young people interested in exploring Christianity and were responsible for some RE lessons and assemblies. This work also expanded to Flint High.
Hope37 is now seeking to expand and take the work into a new phase. The heart of our proposal for the next phase of Hope37’s advancement is to develop the Hope Cafe into a Social Enterprise Venture. This would increase our effectiveness when working with young people who are disaffected, at risk of exclusion or NEET (not in education, employment or training) by enabling them to develop various skills. This will be accomplished through opportunities to allow them to effectively run the Cafe as a community resource during the day whilst maintaining the youth only drop-in times to the evenings.