Organisation shares young people in rural areas may not have access to clubs if it wasn’t for charities
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A Northants organisation has shared that young people in rural communities may not have access to clubs if it was not for the work of charities.
Clubs for Young People Northamptonshire (CYPN) is the latest organisation to speak out in support of Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s rural needs appeal.
The appeal hopes to bridge the gap experienced by rural communities, which lack access to what might be available in the surrounding urban areas – and CYPN’s work is already achieving this.
CYPN works closely with communities across the county to ensure there are a variety of safe and enjoyable activities for young people aged eight to 19 years old.
The charity was first set up in 1948 and rebranded to CYPN in 1993, with the aim of educating youngsters through leisure activities and helping them develop their physical, social and intellectual capacities.
Gemma Johnston-Smith is the youth and community manager at CYPN and spoke to this newspaper about the benefits of the charity’s work and how they support rural communities.
Having joined the charity six years ago, Gemma has firsthand seen how offering youth work activities and informal education in relaxed settings can help all communities – particularly in rural areas.
When asked what the charity’s most popular projects and clubs are, and which have the biggest impact on young people, Gemma said it depends on the needs of each community.
“For some young people, it’s about having the safe space to develop their skills,” she said. “For others, it’s about project work.
“With the virtual babies project, we go into schools and educate young people on the responsibilities of being a caregiver, parent or babysitter.
“With the driving project it’s about being safer road users. Not just a driver, but a passenger too.”
A grant awarded to CYPN by NCF allowed them to recently establish a fortnightly youth club in Crick, one of the county’s rural areas.
Gemma shared that Crick Parish Council was looking to establish a provision for young people but did not have the budget to do so.
The charity applied for the grant and was awarded a year’s worth of funding. Once the year is up, they will use the success of the project to put in an application for a longer course of funding.
“The number of young people in rural areas is lower, which means there are less opportunities,” said Gemma. “Social clubs and groups don’t exist in rural communities.
“We give them the chance to cook, bake, do arts and crafts, go on nature walks, and encourage them to get involved with community activities and fundraisers.
“They may not have access to these things if it wasn’t for us.”
Gemma says the benefits of the clubs is that young people develop their social skills and maintain contact with friends from the village.
The charity finds that when children finish primary school, many of them go to different schools and lose contact with the support network they have had since the start of education.
The charity even offers one-to-one mentoring for young people.
Gemma described the Community Foundation’s recent focus on rural areas as “really important”.
She said that when it comes to offering projects and clubs, it comes down to numbers and cost per head.
With a lower number of targeted young people in rural communities, the cost per head tends to be higher and is less appealing to those providing grants and funds.
However, Gemma described NCF as “more understanding” and says they have been “really supportive” in providing advice when applying for grants.
Gemma believes the funds raised by the rural needs appeal need to be used in ways “determined by each community”.
“They know the needs,” she added. “It’s about getting the rural communities to share what they need for their area. They need the option to decide.”
What is Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s rural needs appeal?
The aim was to shed light on the issues of rural poverty, food insecurity and limited access to essential services that these residents face on a daily basis.
The hope now is that awareness can be raised to inspire action, and a dedicated funding appeal was launched to make a difference.
The summary of the report reads: “By tackling rural poverty, promoting food security, and improving access to essential services, we can contribute to a more inclusive and resilient Northamptonshire.
“Together, we can bridge the divide and empower rural communities to thrive.”
With a dedicated funding pot, which NCF hopes will reach £200,000, they want to address the urgent needs of these communities by matching the amount raised pound-for-pound.
The impactful initiatives that could be helped include greening a community, empowering young people through youth groups, and improving community hubs – such as village halls, shops and pubs.
This newspaper will continue raising awareness of the challenges faced by rural communities. If your organisation would like to be involved in this coverage, email [email protected].