Supporting our young people
We believe high quality youth work is a vital ingredient in the promotion of young people’s safety, wellbeing and happiness. We are fully committed to ensuring all young people in Lewisham have access to the right youth services, whatever their needs may be.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for many young people and highlighted systemic inequalities that exist nationally. In Lewisham, we are determined to support our young people in the best way possible, to help them overcome whatever challenges and inequalities they may encounter.
In light of the pandemic’s impact, we are reviewing our approach. Our aim is to continue providing core services open to anyone aged eight to 19 years (or up to 25 years for those with special educational needs and disabilities), while enhancing our more targeted provision where it is most needed.
This is itself a significant challenge, for our resources are very limited and some of our facilities in need of refurbishment. To respond to this, we are exploring new ways of working and raising funds.
In particular, over the course of 2021-2, we will be working with residents and partners to develop a play strategy for our borough to ensure our children and young people have fair access to play areas and equipment, within the context of considerable financial pressures on the Council.
Lewisham Youth Services
Since 2016 our youth provision has been managed by Youth First. We recently agreed to award a new contract to Youth First for four years (with an option to extend by up to two years) at a cost of £1.3m per year. This is a very significant investment in our young people at a time when the Council is facing unprecedented demands on its budget.
Under this new contract, Youth First are required to deliver a needs-led service with two main priorities:
1. A flexible, fun, safe, educational and engaging universal offer at five core sites across the borough:
- Woodpecker Youth Club
- Bellingham Gateway Youth and Community Centre
- TNG Youth and Community Centre
- Honor Oak Youth Club
- Riverside Youth Club (this provision has been temporarily moved to the nearby Deptford Adventure Playground).
2. More targeted provision for vulnerable young people and families through one-to-one support and themed group work.
While we develop our play strategy and explore new ways of working and fundraising, we have awarded a 12-month contract to Youth First to run open-access adventure play sessions, in line with COVID-19 guidance.
We remain fully committed to the importance of safe adventure play. Access to our playgrounds remains free. Our five adventure playgrounds are:
- Honor Oak Adventure Playground
- The Richard MacVicar Adventure Playground, Deptford
- Dumps Adventure Playground
- Ladywell Fields Adventure Playground
- Home Park Adventure Playground.
The historic Riverside Youth Club in Evelyn ward is in desperate need of refurbishment and we are working hard with Youth First and Millwall Community Trust to secure funding to support this. In order to make sure that youth activities are not disrupted by any building works, Youth First have temporarily moved all sessions to the nearby Deptford Adventure Playground.
Opening times for this, and all other youth club and adventure playground sites are on the Youth First website.
The refurbishment is taking longer than anticipated because of challenges that have arisen due to the age of the building. We will provide updated information as soon as we are able to do so.
When fully operational this building will offer a range of sports and extra-curricular activities.