2nd Jul '20

West Berkshire Youth Hub

We were absolutely thrilled to work with Funding Partner Greenham Trust to launch the West Berkshire Youth Hub in mid-May, to support young people through lockdown.

The West Berkshire Youth Hub is an online, telephone and text based support service which is staffed from 9am to 5pm, with access to out of hours support. Young people and their parents / carers are encouraged to get in touch, to be informed about local activities, such as local youth groups sports clubs, drama, art groups and activity sessions, including volunteering opportunities. They continue to be linked with appropriate, relevant and safe networks for the foreseeable future as restrictions are lifted. While this service doesn’t replace any other emergency service or out of hours team, where appropriate, young people are referred to one of Berkshire Youth’s professional and qualified youth workers as well as other specialist agencies for specific support, while any request of need identified for this level of intervention is referred or reported to appropriate safeguarding teams.


David Seward commented: “At times like this we need to remember to look after the most vulnerable, but in the meantime we must not forget the young people and children that are part of our community and families. The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is so true, but we have removed the village and taken away that choice. We need to find ways to encourage young people to still get together (virtually), to get good safe advice and support, to have fun, laugh and joke. For too long the voice of young people has been unheard, so let’s share what resources we know about, and find support and kindness where we can. Our youth hub is not the solution for good quality face to face youth work, but is a collaboration of resources to get as close as we can.”


Hopefully you will have seen our social media posts about the project, read the report in Newbury Today and heard David talking on local radio about the project and our concerns for young people during this uncertain period.


One of the real joys of the hub has been sharing the good news of fantastic opportunities open to young people. One of these is the Newbury Corn Exchange project ‘Unlocked and Unbolted’, which will collect the thoughts and experiences of young people about the strange times we’re currently living through in order to write a piece to be performed in early September, following all social distancing guidelines. Another is the Ahead of Time Academy, featured on the Young People page of the West Berkshire Youth Hub. Created by 19-year-old Zack Fortag, the Ahead of Time Academy is a new youth charity which aims to help young people with education and opportunities. It offers courses, weekly webinars and blogs, as well as the chance to connect with future employers, fellow young people and numerous events.


We are pleased to report some of our successes – as these mean that the hub is meeting its intended purpose! We have had seven enquiries regarding volunteering (with four already on board doing great work), five young person referrals, over 170 young people engaged with by our youth workers whilst on detached work and over 1000 new visitors to the website.


It is not about statistics, however, as our Youth Worker, Colin, reports: “I am currently working with and assisting two young people who have been referred to us via the West Berkshire Youth Hub. I am working with students with… a lack of self-esteem, social and emotional issues and in more serious cases, mental health problems. The West Berkshire Youth Hub allows individuals to talk to / work with an independent non-biased youth worker where sessions allow open thinking and dialogue, setting targets and goals for that person to make informed choices, paving the way for successful outcomes.”

The service is currently being piloted in West Berkshire, but we are currently in discussions around the possibility of rolling this out across the rest of the county.