“I came across Youth Moves about ten years ago, I guess I was about thirteen”, said Jim, a youth worker at Youth Moves, based in Knowle West, South Bristol. “I kept coming across them through youth clubs, local sports clubs, that sort of thing. When I wasn’t at the activities run by Youth Moves, I was – like all the other kids my age – hanging around with my friends, and causing a nuisance for people. Nothing criminal, but, you know, the sort of anti-social behaviour you hear about. But for those few nights a week when we were at Youth Moves, we were ‘off the streets’, learning something useful.”
After a couple of years using their front-line groups and clubs, Jim started volunteering for Youth Moves and, one summer, got the opportunity to do some sports coaching they were running, shadowing their current coach and working with young kids to improve their confidence and skills. By this time, he was about sixteen and was starting to think about his future.
“That was the turning point really”, said Jim. “I was successful at securing an apprenticeship with Youth Moves, as a sports coach, and it opened up the door to youth work. I hadn’t been sure what I wanted to do, and it was hard to get to courses and things from Knowle West because it meant making long bus journeys to the other side of the city. I wanted to stay here, work in my local community.”
Jim is passionate about the area he grew up in, despite its problems, and he’s not the only one. “There are loads of people like me, who love the area and want to stay and make a real difference for the kids growing up here”, said Jim. “I’ll never stop banging the drum for Knowle West. It’s not like what you see on the media. There’s so much good going on.”
But the availability of funding has reduced starkly on the front-line, even during Jim’s time as both a user of youth services and now an integral part of the team.
“I’m 24 now, and there’s so much less help out there than there was even when I was a kid”, said Jim. “Quartet Community Foundation and Bristol Youth & Community Action (BYCA)’s funding makes it viable for us to run some fantastic programmes for local young people. This summer they supported us in running two weeks of sports for local kids, and we worked with around 80 children aged 8-12 years. I ran another supporting 15-16 year olds, training them as volunteers and continuing the cycle. Programmes like ours give young people the step up, and we need more of them.”