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CLUB CULTURE Decks Youth Club, Ivy Lane


TOP FIVE FACTS: Membership: 40


Price: Currently Free Meetings: Thursday 6.30-8.30pm Three words to describe the club: Fun, engaging, social


Most popular activity: Basketball E


very Thursday, Decks Youth Centre in Dart- mouth opens its doors to young people aged between 11 and 17. The sessions are run by


the charity Youth Genesis Trust. Operations Man- ager Michelle Taylor says it’s all about looking after the young people: “It’s our aim to provide a safe space for teenagers to meet, chat, play sport, learn new skills and access support, if they need it.” It’s a popular club with up to 40 teenagers turning up, some coming from as far as Stoke Fleming and Kingsbridge. Once here they are offered a cup of tea or coffee and a warm space to relax for two hours. They break off into smaller groups to play badminton, air hockey, pool, table football or just sit on the sofa with their phones and a bag of sweets. The team of volun- teers often arrange group activities like cooking and dodge ball. Michelle says they try and make the activities as engaging as possible: “People come here because they want to, it isn’t school, they’re not obliged to attend. The sort of young people who we see aren’t necessarily the kind of people who are drawn to the more uniformed weekly events like swimming lessons or hockey club. They enjoy the relaxed nature of the sessions here.” It is this less structured approach that helps volunteers get to know the young people. “We have time to chat to them and it’s often through casual


conversation that you can find out if there are any problems at school or at home. We can also help them in other ways


– a couple of years ago one boy showed an


“Teenagers can often be labelled as trouble


makers in a small town like this, but the large majority are just young


people finding their way in life and it’s our job


to find out what makes them tick and take an interest in their futures.”


interest in table tennis, he was so good I couldn’t let his talent go to waste, so I managed to get him into a local club and I think he now plays for a league. Good things do come out of this place!” The volunteers include councillors, people who came to the youth club when they were young- er, even former dentists, basically anyone who’s interested in helping young people and, more importantly, getting to know them. “Teenagers can often be labelled as trouble makers in a small town like this, but the large majority are just young people finding their way in life and it’s our job to find out what makes them tick and take an interest in their futures.” Every now and again the team run


workshops on drugs, alcohol, sexual health and social media, which lead to lively discussions among mem- bers. Youth Genesis also run two Friday night sessions – a sports based hour at the leisure centre for football, badminton and boxing (from 7-8pm), and a drop-in club called The Point at St Clement’s Church Hall (from 8-9pm). At big events such as Regatta and the Music Festival the team take to the streets to support young people who may have had a little too much to drink. They offer advice and hand out bottled water and glow sticks to help them walk home safely. There are some exciting plans to improve the main venue (Decks at Ivy Lane) this year - with the hope of a fresh lick of paint and some more substantial work to bring its popular ‘chill-out room’ back into use.


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