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The rise and fall of Cardiff's Youth Clubs

RADYR YOUTH CLUB 4

Radyr Youth Club ran successfully for nine years until it was forced to shut its doors in 2014

OVER the past few years, many youth clubs in Cardiff have been closed due to spending cuts.

Until 2014, Radyr Youth Club operated three evenings a week at Radyr Comprehensive School. It was set up by the Local Education Authority (LEA), but was one of the unlucky groups that faced closure.

Radyr Community Council are trying to aid the development of a new youth facility in the area, but are struggling to raise funds and find suitable premises for the club to run.

RADYR YOUTH CLUB 3

Radyr Youth Club attracted youngters between the ages of 11-19

The  original club was managed by Clare Barnett. She believes that the youth services are being greatly missed by members of the community, as the club was home to more than 400 members over the nine years that it ran.

She said: “I think the area will miss the Youth Club, the staff and its programme as it was open all day every day five times a week.

“We used to deliver PSE, Lunch Club, Study Support and Counselling between 9am – 3pm. After school we also had activities such as Pool club, five-a-side football, Welsh Club, Senior Youth Forum and Junior Youth Forum.”

It may seem hard to believe that the younger generation still enjoy youth clubs. Maybe that is because they are no longer as we once imagined them.

Today, it will be rare to find youngsters crowding around a scrabble board or getting tangled in Twister. The digital age has taken over and youth workers are aware of its impact.

Clare said: “I believe there is still room for youth clubs in modern society. I now run St Mellons Youth Centre, which is located in a deprived area of Cardiff. We have young people between the ages of 11 and 22 who attend three evenings per week. We work with very challenging young people.

“We carry out a wealth of issue-based work such as that of substance misuse, sexual health, cyber bullying and the dangers of alcohol.

“The needs of young people have changed since the dawn of the internet and new technologies such as social media. It is our challenge as youth workers to move with the times and offer young people the opportunity to engage in activities and experiences that they cannot learn in isolation from a computer.

“Our work now is about communication skills, mentoring, accreditation opportunities, team building, building confidence and encouraging young people to take advantages of all of the opportunities available to them.”

Despite the growing need for these services, some clubs in Cardiff continue to gain success by following more traditional pathways.

Even though the area is packed with students, Cathays Youth Centre is often seen as a central facility. It also attracts youngsters from surrounding areas such as Gabalfa and Whitchurch.

Joel Beswick is the Music Project Co-ordinator at the centre. He said: “We provide a club for young people with learning difficulties which is one of our most popular facilities. There is also a music club where those who play instruments can rehearse and part-take in jamming sessions. We also help young people apply for jobs.”

According to the National Youth Agency, further cuts to youth services are expected to be announced between 2016 and 2017.

As councils face further funding reductions, local authorities will be forced to rely more on the voluntary and community sector to continue providing youth services.

Ararat Church (Photo: John Lord)

Ararat Church, near Whitchurch Common. (Photo: John Lord)

Just last month, Whitchurch Youth Club unexpectedly shut its doors. Even though the YMCA was given a grant to set up a replacement scheme in the Ararat Church the club is unable to operate as many activities as before.

It is hard to predict what will happen to Cardiff’s youth services over the coming months, but one thing we can say is that young people clearly need them.

We are constantly told that our children are too confident online, experimenting with chat-rooms, facing self-esteem issues or are not interacting enough.

These issues are the primary reason for the demand of youth clubs in Cardiff. The support provided by these clubs is vital for young people in the city.