28 February 2022

This month, thanks to ongoing support from the National Lottery Community Fund, we were able to take 20 young people on a two-night youth residential trip to Lodge Hill outdoor centre in the South Downs.

“We invited a mixture of young people from across all of our youth clubs,” says YMCA Youth Worker, Fiona Oldam.

“The aim was to build relationships both with the youth workers and the other young people, to provide new experiences and to gain valuable feedback on what is working well in the clubs, what could be done better and potential ideas for the future.”

Many of the young people had missed out on school trips due to the recent pandemic and the residential provided their first experience of staying away from home.

A wellbeing workshop offered mental health advice to the young people, discussing the importance of taking care of themselves and how to ask for help. A ‘Big Brother’ style video room was set up to share views of the residential trip and the YMCA’s Youth services.

Activities, designed to build self-esteem, enhance communication and decision-making abilities and teach leadership skills, included a high zip line, a crate stacking team exercise, rifle shooting and a very popular – and muddy – night hike.

Fiona Oldam says:

“The young people had to face some fears and build trust in themselves and others to achieve each task or activity. Our hope is that we can work further with this newly formed group so that they can act as a Youth Committee to help plan activities for their individual youth clubs, as well as a Youth Conference which will take place in the summer for 100-200 young people.”

Tallulah Mearns is 13 years old and has been attending the Phoenix Youth Centre in Tadworth for almost a year.

“I loved the residential!” she says. “I was really upset when it was over. I’m not confident about meeting new people so I think it was really good for me.”

12-year-old Ellie Coller enjoyed the rifle shooting most of all. She says that the YMCA youth club gives her something to do during the week.

“If I couldn’t go there, I’d probably just end up watching TV with my dog,” she says. “I would definitely want to do it again if there was another residential.”

YMCA Youth Worker, Marlon Williams, says:

“It was a really good experience for the young people involved. Many didn’t know each other, so it pushed them right out of their comfort zones and gave them the opportunity to engage and make new relationships. Coronavirus has caused a lack of continuity in youth work provision, so it was great to get these young people together and give them an experience to remember.”

Find out more about our free YMCA East Surrey Youth Clubs in Horley, Merstham, Redhill, Reigate and Tadworth