25 February 2019

YMCA Weston-super-Mare works very closely with North Somerset’s Home Education Network and provide three sessions a week.

Damien Erangey, Youth & Community Manager, explains, “We recognise the importance of supporting young people’s social interactions with peers and adults and the need to support young people’s personal growth and development.

The team have embedded activities into their programme that can help empower and develop key social skills for the young people attending.

To feel the true impact of the work, take a look at Sarah’s story, a parent of two girls that both attend the sessions at YMCA.

“The YMCA has proven invaluable to our family.

I have 3 daughters across an 8 year age gap. We are involved with the YMCA on a multi skill level.

My eldest was given a work placement from college at the YMCA in Weston and this has had a huge impact on her. It has given her direction in life and for the first time in over 10 years she has belief in herself to fulfil her career and go to university. This I have no doubt has been down to the youth work team and the opportunities she has seen them provide within our local community.

My 2 other daughters are Home educated and our YMCA provides a back bone to our week.

Both my girls’ aged 13yrs and 10yrs are involved with many of the opportunities that the YMCA provides for our community.

They both attend the youth project on a Friday afternoon which has a vital social and integration function within the home educated community. It is an opportunity for the kids that attend to build relations with peers and adults in a safe respected setting that allows them to feel empowered and listened to.

My youngest suffers with anxiety but I am able to leave her with Damien and his team without hesitation. The youth workers create great bonds and provide activities that wouldn’t be available to us without significant financial cost. Before Christmas they had the school chef in and each week they interacted with artists to produce something creative as well as other activities.

For my middle daughter this Friday session proves to be so important. She is a teenager living with a disability who wants to be just like any other teen. The Friday session offers her an afternoon of socialising like her peers without the need to be exasperating her disability. It provides total inclusivity, and an environment where the teens are involved with the development of the group and listened to. This is providing them with so many skills.

My 13yr old has also been involved with youth council. The youth council was introduced to her by a youth worker and they have supported her throughout her process in becoming vice chair.

The relationships with adults that my girls have formed within the community because of the YMCA have been invaluable in their journey into adulthood and I am very grateful to have such an invaluable resource available to me as a parent, our home education community who are totally supported by the YMCA, and to my girls”.