Singing the praises of Staple Hill Youth Club
Published on: 03 Mar 2014
A NEW youth centre for Staple Hill has moved a step closer now that councillors have proposed allocating £350,000 to the project.
It is hoped to convert part of the old Staple Hill Primary School into a base for youth workers, provided the funding is agreed by various South Gloucestershire Council committees.
For the past nine years, a team of youth workers has been operating out of a room in a church.
Despite these far from ideal circumstances, Staple Hill Methodist Youth Project (SHMYP) is going from strength to strength, providing a lifeline for many youngsters who want to meet up with pals and feel safe.
Councillors agreed to fund a new youth centre in February and are working alongside SHMYP to explore possibilities, one of which is utilising the old Staple Hill School.
The project, which currently runs out of the Hebron Methodist Church on the High Street and caters for youngsters aged 11-25, can look forward to an even brighter future once they have a purpose built base.
Set up in 2005, the project has developed dramatically, particularly with the introduction of a music project where videos made by young people have received more than 150,000 YouTube hits.
The project work is threefold - a youth club where boys and girls can socialise, detached work where youth workers get out and about to meet young people and a music project offering professional studio equipment.
The project has one full-time youth worker and eight part-time members of staff, made up of males and females so young people feel comfortable if they need to talk confidentially.
The youth club runs from 7-9pm on Mondays and Thursdays and features anything from crafts to cooking and indoor sports like pool and table tennis. Each session attracts around 35 youngsters and costs just 50p.
Detached work takes place on a Wednesday night when staff walk around Staple Hill armed with hot chocolate and biscuits.
Full-time youth worker Rob Sharp, 28, said: “Detached work is the main way young people learn about the project and get to meet us before they come along to a youth club session or music session.
“There aren’t many things which are dedicated towards young people. It’s usually uniformed or sports groups where you have to pay and that can get really expensive.
“We offer an opportunity for young people to socialise at a subsidised rate in a safe and happy environment where they can perhaps learn things as well.”
Not all young people Rob and his team meet on the streets want to come to the sessions but they might benefit from a chat and information and advice about subjects such as sexual health, homelessness or drugs.
The music project was set up several years ago after a group of young people secured funding to turn a small room in the church into a studio complete with vocal booth and professional equipment.
Rob said: “The young people who put together the first funding bid in 2007 went off to college, got qualified and now run the music sessions.
“The sessions are completely free. Young people come along, write lyrics and record songs. They book an hour or two and it’s their time where no-one else will interfere.”
Rob said the sessions, which take place on Tuesday evenings from 6.30-9.30pm, attract a wide range of young people.
He said: “We get some people who are hobbyists and just do it to get out of the cold, others who want to get ready for gigs and those who want to break into the music industry so they can prepare material to take to record labels.
“Some might have had an incident happen in their life and they want to record a track about it. They can take away a CD with a song which expresses how they feel. It can turn a negative experience in a young person’s life into something positive.”
Rob said one girl had experienced a bereavement in her family and recording a track helped her grieve.
“She’d never sang before but was encouraged by the fact there would be no-one there listening to her and judging her,” he said.
“She spent an hour writing some lyrics with the workshop leader around the bereavement and used the favourite song of the person she was grieving for as a backing track. The next session she recorded the song and mixed it and then took away a CD. It wasn’t for anyone else to listen to; it was just for her to have. She told me she had felt numb after the bereavement but the process of recording a song helped her get her feelings out. It helped her through the process of grieving because she was able to explore how she felt about it.”
Rob said the music sessions were having a huge impact on the lives of young people.
“We’ve had people perform at the Tunnels night club and take part in open mic events in and around Bristol. We have also seen a lot of young people go on to study music at college who might not have gone to college. That’s a huge bonus for me.
“No-one yet has been offered a recording contract but fingers crossed they will!”
To find out more about any of the sessions offered by Staple Hill Youth Project visit www.shmyp.moonfruit.com