13 September 2022

YMCA East Surrey’s Youth Work team have hosted their first Youth Conference at High Ashurst Outdoor Centre on Box Hill.

Ninety young people from Tadworth, Horley, Merstham, Ashtead, Redhill and Reigate attended the event on 30 August.

YMCA East Surrey Youth Worker, Fiona Oldam, says:

“The idea of the day was to hear the voices of some of the young people who attend our youth clubs. We wanted to know what issues are important to them, what things they have enjoyed at the youth club sessions and how we can take this into account within the youth club setting and wider community.”

“The aim of the Youth Conference was to explore these issues within a fun day where young people could meet other young people from the East Surrey area and work together on challenges which encouraged them to think and communicate with each other.”

The Mayor of Reigate and Banstead Council, Cllr Frank Kelly, delivered an inspiring speech to the attendees and The Community Development Workers of Reigate and Banstead Council assisted at the event, along with Deputy Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson.

Activities included climbing, abseiling, high ropes and team building challenges. Young people shared their stories before finishing the day with a barbecue.

“Abseiling was scary,” says 11-year-old Miley. “I learnt that you’ve just got to go with it!”

“It was extreme because it was adult’s stuff we were doing, not just kid’s stuff,” agreed Harvey, age 12.

YMCA Youth Workers are now collating the information gathered and will be creating youth work sessions that respond to their queries and interests.

YMCA East Surrey’s Youth Clubs are funded by The National Lottery and The Geoff Herrington Foundation, with additional support from Surrey County Council and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.

“It was a great day with a fantastic atmosphere and we thoroughly enjoyed bringing together young people from across our clubs and listening to their voices,” says Fiona Oldam.

“It gave us an opportunity to work with other wider public organisations to ensure that the views of local young people are heard. The young people were keen to take part in the challenges and tell us what issues are important to them and we now hope that we can enable these issues to be addressed.”

Find out more about YMCA East Surrey’s Youth Clubs