|Hazz pictured with fellow bloggers: Liz, Penny, Afra and Marissa.|
The New Horizons Youth Centre offers a non-judgemental place for young people where they can eat a meal, do laundry, talk to support workers if they want to and hang out with peers. On the afternoon we visited one young man was doing a magic trick in the lounge area involving a playing card and an orange. The reaction he got was fantastic and would honestly give Dynamo a run for his money !
|A friendly face at reception is vital to reassure young people they are safe.|
We observed the women's group session in progress and noted the empty Haribo and Monster Munch packets on the table as the women took nail varnish bottles out of colourful make up bags. While they painted nails Hazz asked them questions ranging from light hearted to deep and emotional. At one point a woman was talking about wanting to wear a sari then another described how drinking made her feel 'invincible.' It's this approach that makes the women feel safe and it's takes skill and sensitivity to work as effectively as it does. It made me smile when they talked about a future session being Bollywood themed and one of the young women softly enquired, "we can still have Monster Munch right ?" It is so disarming to be reminded that however mature they appear these women are still so childlike.
Later we talk to the young women who facilitated this afternoon's session, *Polly and *Lucy. They are users of the centre and when asked where they'd be if they weren't here Lucy answers that she'd be on the streets or doing drugs. At one point she was coming to New Horizons every day and it was her stabliity in a life where she had none. Now she has a timetable and attends on specific days to give her a chance to develop other interests and she is feeling confident about seeking work. Both talk to us about how the centre staff are more like family to them than their actual families. This is an aspect of the work here that cannot be measured, but clearly is a major contributor to improving the lives of the young people who come here.
|picture cards to help young people communicate when they arrive|
Any young person can access support from New Horizons, especially those who fall through the cracks. The young people who the local authority cannot help or who have moved from elsewhere in the country and therefore are not entitled to housing. They will be supported until the age of 22, but are not entirely cut off at this point. A worker will help them work towards independence from New Horizons so that they are not just left with no support once they turn 22.
In the years I've been fundraising with Team Honk I've been proud knowing that we're raising money for great causes both overseas and in the UK. It's wonderful to see first hand how the UK grants are being used to make such a profound difference to the lives of young people who would otherwise be left in difficult or harmful situations. One thing that really struck a chord with me was that all the young people we met have family relationships that have broken down. They do not have the safety net of support that my children do if anything goes wrong. As we left the centre I looked at the young men and women standing outside smoking just before it closed for the day. To a casual observer they seem just like anyone else. The best thing we can achieve by supporting projects like New Horizon is to instil in these young people the belief that they deserve the same chances as anyone else. I am grateful that New Horizons exists for vulnerable young people and has done for 50 years.
We are raising money again this year to support Red Nose Day and Comic Relief.
If you could donate any money it would be absolutely wonderful.
Thank you: https://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/Swazi