Last night (Wednesday) the Whitchurch Youth Project held its Annual General Meeting. Over the last 12 months the Project has enjoyed many successes and a few difficulties, but continues to be a well-run and leading facility for the young people of the town.

We reproduce the Chairman’s report here in full…
(The sub headings are ours)

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WHITCHURCH YOUTH PROJECT ANNUAL REPORT 2012

I returned as Chairman of Whitchurch Youth Project in February this year after a gap following the resignation of Nigel Russell because of pressure of his work on preparations for the London Olympics. This has been a difficult five months and I want to thank all the volunteers, in the club and on the Management Committee, for their loyalty to the Youth Project and for their hard work. In particular I want to thank Nancy Miller who has been a tower of strength since I was authorised to share information with her about a problem that we faced recently.

Close working
From the time of our foundation seven years ago, Whitchurch Youth Project has worked closely with the Police. That has continued as a constructive two-way relationship. The local team, PC Paula Deery and PCSO Ben Howard, and their colleagues at all levels are a source of support and good sense.

Chill2This
The Chill2This Club for 10 to 14 year-olds has continued without interruption and I am pleased that Barry Goddard was ready to step into the role of Club Leader when he was needed. Barry has attended a training course that will lead to a nationally recognised accreditation as a Youth Leader. With the regular volunteers, Barry has introduced a new approach and some new activities for the young members.

Partnership working
Partnership with other local organisations continue, such as:

  • Paper-plate making in collaboration with Whitchurch Arts
  • Costume and Float design for the Carnival and T-shirt painting for the forthcoming torch parade with the Whitchurch Festival Committee
  • Graffiti T-shirts with Summer Streetz
  • Financial support to a young person from Whitchurch Welfare Trust when we have identified a need.

Activities
Apart from club nights at the Gill Nethercott Centre, young members also enjoy outside activities, such as regular trips to swimming pools or ice skating and annual visits to a dedicated youth centre on the Isle of Wight. These visits are enabled by the loan of a mini-bus from Vitacress. Members also take part in various fund raising activities, with the emphasis on “fun”. I am particularly pleased that two former junior members of this club are now working with Barry as adult volunteers. They and many young adults that I meet around Whitchurch are a credit to the club and to the work that has been done in the past seven years. Now we are supported by an outreach Youth Worker from Basingstoke Voluntary Services.

The Bench
I am sorry to say that The Bench, our club and drop-in café for over 14s, has not operated since the original Club Leader, Helena Dolphin, left us a year ago. By the end of her time with us The Bench was attracting up to 25 young people every Friday night at the Parish Hall. Apart from club nights a number of individual events were funded jointly by the club and the participants such as go karting, quad biking, etc.. Helena did an excellent job of creating and running this facility, we were very fortunate to have her, but progress in her full-time career left no time for her to stay with us.

Parish Hall
By the time that we had appointed Paul Slowey to replace Helena, the Parish Hall was closed for refurbishment. The Hall has now been open for more than six months, an excellent community facility crying out to be used by young people but we have so far been unable to ascertain on what terms the Parish Hall Charitable Trust will allow us to hire it. Meanwhile, Paul works as an Assistant Leader with Barry at Chill2This.

More activities
Last year, some of our young members worked with the wildlife trust to build a synthetic otter holt near the Gill Nethercott Centre. Other community environmental activities have included Earth Hour and litter picking. We plan to re-start such activities. We will also organise visits to theatre and ballet. We will resume our support to help young people into the workplace such as help with CVs, interview skills, etc.

Trustees
The Management Committee is entitled to nominate four Trustees of the Whitchurch Youth Centre Trust. Current nominees are Nigel Russell, Nancy Miller and Lesley Rattue, with one vacancy since I was nominated by the Borough Council. I hope that vacancy will be filled by someone with skills and experience that the rest of us lack. The other Trustee is Town Councillor Peter Williams.

Grants and Donations
The Management Committee has been strengthened by the addition of Lesley Rattue, our grants co-ordinator, and we are already seeing a welcome increase in the income that we need to support our activities on behalf of young people. We are registered with the website localgiving.com which enables us to receive gift aid donations. We have recently received grants or donations from, among others:

HCC Children’s Services Integrated Grants
Whitchurch Festival
Kingfisher Housing residents
Four Lanes Trust

Other support
Denyse Coles, as our Secretary, ensures that our decision making and administration is orderly and does so much more to keep Whitchurch Youth Project running and in the public eye. In recent years, Denyse has organised and managed our use of Rotations Charity Shop. We are grateful to all the volunteers who help in the shop; this year we are looking for someone to take over the organising role.

Dennis Hazel works with Barry in the youth club and sits on the Management Committee. This year, at my request, he became vice-chairman so that the work of the committee continues smoothly when I am not available.

Sharing the work
Finally, we need more adult volunteers to help our Club Leaders and to share the work of the Management Committee.

Questions?
Are there any questions or points for discussion arising from this report?

Keith Watts
11 July 2012

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