Essex County Council Youth Service (Townhouse)

Essex County Council Youth Service (Townhouse)

The challenge

AFiUK was determined to find a safe place for the 100+ young people from African families and other ethnic minorities that the organisation has supported since it began in 2015. We needed a venue that would be versatile to be able to offer a range of different activities and flexible in terms of its availability throughout the week. Youth services are a prime function of AFiUK and we knew that a key element of being able to fulfil this aspect of our vision was to find a venue in Colchester. This venue would enable us to improve and deepen our support of local BAME young people and also create a model for other youth activity centres for future AFiUK projects we may establish, as we expand and widen our reach across the UK

The activity

The Townhouse is a well-known youth centre in Colchester town centre, owned by Essex County Council Youth Service. ECC Youth Service seeks to partner with a range of different youth organisations across the county to support specialised or local youth services, particularly where the organisation meets needs that ECC Youth Service does not have the influence or resources to provide itself.

ECC Youth Service were able to offer AFiUK use of the Townhouse free of charge for a three-hour slot each Saturday morning throughout the year, to meet their own statutory duties.

The outcome for AFiUK

AFiUK runs a Youth Club on Saturdays at the Townhouse 11 am – 2 pm, providing young people from African and ethnic minority families with a space to socialise, celebrate, and explore their culture and heritage in a safe environment.

The venue is multi-purpose, with a sports hall for basketball and other activities; a fully equipped kitchen for cooking; therapy rooms, a training room, and it also provides musical instruments via Essex Music Services and art & craft facilities. 

The facility has enabled us to provide a number of specific, as well as general youth-focused programmes. We believe it’s vital that we can hold one-hour initial assessment/interviews when we meet new partners and families, to consider particular areas for development and any barriers faced by each individual they will work with. A programme for each participant is then taken forward to meet the individual(s)’ personal situation and needs.

We also provide one-hour one to one solution-focused coachingand a more tailored programme to address individual needs. This could include career and life coaching from qualified, experienced coaching providers.

The Townhouse also allows us to facilitate employability, confidence and resilience-building workshopsthat are stimulating and relevant to ethnic minority young people’s needs. These are already equipping young people with university and job market awareness/readiness, as well as an increase in their self-belief, self-esteem and self-confidence. 

The outcome for Essex County Council Youth Service

The Youth Service’s motto is Inspire Enable Achieve. The support the team there has given AFiUK is invaluable and has allowed ECC Youth Service to reach BAME young people that they have previously struggled to engage with. By working with AFiUK, they are engaging with experienced, culturally relevant and diverse practitioners to deliver services that are badly needed, well-attended, and well-received. The local African and other minority communities can now access support for their young people through AFiUK, that will reap future benefits for the entire borough of Colchester as a result.