Photo of footballers and staff on football pitch

FEAR//LESS Project, YMCA Downslink Group

FEAR//LESS has delivered 2 interactive community-based exhibitions with the theme of masculinity and mental health, which saw over 700 children, young people, families and professionals visit and engage with the work. The project was planned, delivered and evaluated by a diverse team of over 25 Right Here ‘Project Champions’ – aged 16 – 25 years.

FEAR//LESS hoped to raise awareness around young men’s mental health and wellbeing, through starting conversations around gender, identity, emotional literacy, body image and more and targeting young men who might be less informed and/or less interested in standard engagement methods. The project worked with an extensive range of community partners, schools and colleges and actively engaged with children, young people and their families from a range of communities, including LGBT, BME, and from a range of socio-economic backgrounds and holding different faiths/beliefs.

To encourage conversations with boys and young men, the work was directed into their environments and spaces using creative and innovative methods as agreed by the Project Champions. The exhibitions were hosted in Whitehawk Football Club (reaching older men, as well as families with younger aged children), and Brighton Metropolitan College (reaching the public as well as students at the college). The exhibitions showcased a welcoming and inclusive approach that reflected diversity in artists submitting work, and pieces presented including visual art, spoken word, music and dance. This approach attracted a very diverse audience to attend and engage with the project.

Over 200 forms of feedback were gathered, and they were overwhelmingly positive; the average rating for attendees at the events was 5/5 and 68% of survey respondents said the events had made them ‘think differently’ about these issues. Millions of people heard the FEAR//LESS message through our media work, including the South East BBC news and radio, local newspapers, and social media

Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children work, YMCA Guildford Foyer

YMCA Guildford was registered as a welcome centre for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) just over 3 years ago. Due to a number of cuts from the local authority the welcome centre service was cut. However YMCA Guildford fought very hard to maintain the service and utilise the expertise it had developed to support newly arrived UASC within a supported housing environment.

YMCA Guildford now houses all UASC within the YMCA Guildford Foyer using a range of support tools to help these young people integrate into the building community and wider community. Over the last 2 years over 45 UASC have been supported.

We have managed to use tracking systems to bring families back together, work with solicitors to achieve asylum claims alongside developing independent living skills to prepare these young people for when they achieve this asylum claims.

The positive move on’s and outcomes this group of young people have achieved is astounding, and while it’s down to them as young people it wouldn’t have been achieved without positive partnerships. Each UASC on arrival is enrolled at Brooklands College instantly allowing them to student and experience British Rail to travel to college.

We have also run a number of community building activities for all 34 residents at YMCA Guildford Foyer including the use of a barge owned by the Surrey Care Trust allowing young people to get to know each other in a non-threatening environment.

YMCA Guildford also runs a community café and has developed a program where UASC can come and volunteer as they are unable to work. This has allowed them to develop confidence, acceptance and a purpose alongside being a positive influence in the community and other young people.

Picture of exterior of Weston cafe

Weston Youth Cafe, YMCA Dulverton Group

Weston Youth Cafe is a hub of community activity and a base for the YMCA Weston team. The cafe offers a space for anyone to come inside, have a hot drink, something to eat and use the facilities.

As well as being open to everyone, the cafe provides space for many local groups and clubs for a variety of different people.

A group of children all of whom are home educated use the space once a week to socialise with other home educated children, which offers their parents/carers time for themselves.

The cafe has recently become home to an LGBT group for young adults offering space for young people to come in, talk with others and meet new people, all in a safe environment.

As well as this, the cafe opens its doors to a group of elderly locals who come in every week for a coffee morning. This aims to prevent isolation and loneliness by offering time to talk with other locals of a similar age, our local chaplain and the YMCA team.

Social sessions for adults with disabilities also run, alongside creative workshops for people with mental health issues, such as high anxiety to support them into feeling safe.

The Ups and Downs South West Youth Project also use the cafe as a base and support young people with downs syndrome.

Young carers are also supported at the youth cafe and have the chance to spend some time with other young carers and find support from the team.

The Weston Youth Cafe is for everyone, the projects above are just a handful of events that happen for locals and there are plenty of opportunities for anyone to come in, have a chat and find support, or even just a cup of tea.

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