16 April 2024

On Thursday 11th April, YMCA East Surrey brought their new, eye-catching Y Bus – a mobile youth club on wheels – to Redhill town centre.

Stuart Kingsley is the Family Services and Youth Work Manager and Deputy Head of Children and Young People for YMCA East Surrey. He says:

“The Y Bus will take youth workers into the heart of local communities where there is little or no youth provision to build positive relationships with young people. It will provide a focal point for activities, as well as information, advice and guidance on issues such as staying safe, peer pressure and mental wellbeing.”

The bus has a small seating area inside and is fitted with a games console, iPad and TV. With its own generator and kitchen facilities, it will be able to run a microwave and a toaster and provide hot drinks and other refreshments. It is scheduled to make regular stops in Redhill, Merstham, Horley and Tadworth, with venues and times subject to change depending on need.

“We made the decision to buy and refurbish a nearly new van, rather than a new one, and are grateful for the support we’ve received from VW Cowfold,” says Stuart. “With solar panels on the roof, we are looking to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.”

Lewis and Oscar, both 13, are pupils at Merstham Park School. Oscar is new to the YMCA youth club. He enjoys playing ping pong and using the games console.

Lewis says: “I will definitely use the Y Bus! I’m interested in vehicles in general and the YMCA youth club is great. Before I started going there and taking part in all the activities, I used to just go home and sleep.”

YMCA East Surrey currently works closely with the local police to address youth crime in and around the Redhill area. The charity’s Chief Executive, Ian Burks, says:

“Safer Streets funding – secured by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, Surrey Police and Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend – for the Y Bus and youth outreach work not only helps to prevent antisocial behaviour, but also empowers young people to make positive choices, develop a sense of pride and purpose in their community and build a better future for themselves. It’s a great partnership project with matched funding coming from local people who have raised money for the bus by taking part in YMCA Challenge events during 2023.”

Eli Karlicka-Cook is Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s Community Development Worker for Redhill West. She says:

“It is so great to have the Y Bus, which is part of the Safer Redhill programme, now available to come to the community I work so closely with and offer youngsters from Cromwell estate a safe space where they can relax, get some food, play games and chat about just anything. The community has been asking for more youth activities that are enjoyable, accessible and on their doorstep. The Y Bus along with the youth club on Fridays – at the Annex – and Redhill Football Club’s community football sessions are fantastic opportunities for youngsters to positively engage with activities they like.”

For more information about YMCA East Surrey’s various youth services, go to www.ymcaeastsurrey.org.uk or call 01737 779979.