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THE BIG READ: How can we get our kids off their phones and socialising again?

Rev Ian Walters inside the Gosberton Youth Club which closed due to the fact it couldn't get a youth worker. (SG050218-152TW)
Rev Ian Walters inside the Gosberton Youth Club which closed due to the fact it couldn't get a youth worker. (SG050218-152TW)

This is the start of a series of features looking to help get our children off social media and interacting with each other again outside school.

We’ll be looking at different clubs and societies available to youngsters and focusing on what they offer in a bid to help children get off their phones and learn new skills.

I wonder if youth clubs have had their day
Councillor Jane King

We will also look at groups that need help getting started again, in order to provide more for children in our area.

This week, we look at the area’s youth clubs that have been forced to close their doors and why.

Gosberton Youth Club closed its doors around two years ago due to a lack of staff, but trustee Rev Ian Walters says it is not that children do not want the club.

He has had enquiries from parents who would like their children to come along – but the club can’t get a youth worker or volunteers.

He said: “The building has a badminton court, we used to have 5-a-side football and put a bowling mat out; we had darts, crafts and cookery.

“In the older days we even used to go over to the park opposite to do sports.

“We had a few enquiries for (paid) youth worker positions but they never materialised.”

Instead, the building in High Street, which is owned by the Gosberton Youth Club charity, would be standing empty if it were not for the Rainbow Playgroup which uses it on a regular basis.

But Rev Walters said that if a youth worker did come forward then the club could open again.

He said: “We have the funds and can pay for a part-time youth worker.”

Donington Youth Club, held on the site of the Thomas Cowley High School, also closed its doors last year, due to a lack of volunteers.

The club had previously been running for 30 years and had made several appeals for volunteers in its final weeks.

Margaret Wright, chairman of the club’s management committee, said at the time of announcing the closure: “Since the end of 2016, we just haven’t been able to get the volunteers needed to enable the club to be run successfully.

“We’ve done all sorts of things to ask for helpers, but nobody has come forward”.

But South Holland District Councillor Jane King (Independent), who represents Donington, Quadring and Gosberton ward, wonders if youth clubs are just not wanted any more.

She said: “We were talking about the youth club recently and we are wondering if youth clubs have had their day.

“Perhaps it is time to have a look at re-branding.

“Maybe it’s ‘not cool’ to go to a youth club any more.

“The term ‘youth club’ does smack of the ’60s and ’70s so maybe the name needs changing.

“We tried all sorts of things with the Donington club, getting out different equipment, organising talks, trips out and activities.

“We used to go over to the school field and get the basketballs out on the court.

“We even did a Friday for primary school age children which went well for a bit, then numbers went down.

“Maybe it’s about ‘street cred’. I really do not know.

“We literally kept the Donington Youth Club hanging on by its fingernails.”

Sutton Bridge Youth Club is another group that has suffered, but parish council chairman John Grimwood says there is hope on the horizon.

He said: “The youth club has closed but we have had a couple of volunteers come forward since our appeal for help and if we get sufficient staff we will be able to re-open.”

The club had been operating out of the Curlew Centre but that space has now been taken up by another group so the challenge will be to find an alternative venue.

Coun Grimwood said: “We used to have table tennis, New Age Kurling, table football and a big screen and projector up.

“It was just £1 to come along.

“In the winter there is nowhere for kids to go and it is a struggle, so kids just stay at home and go on social media.

“People who would like to help with the youth club would need to be keen and they would need to have a DBS check, but we would pay for that.”

The village also once had a thriving youth club at the Methodist Church.

○ Anyone interested in volunteering for Sutton Bridge Youth Club can call Coun Grimwood on 01406 359018.

○ If you can help at Gosberton Youth Club or you are interested in the youth worker position please call Rev Walters on 01775 840694.

Our report comes on the back of our special feature about the impact of social media on youngsters.

In January this year, we interviewed youngsters, their parents and teachers following a report by Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield.

The report, called ‘Life in Likes,’ looked at the effect of social media on the well-being of 8-12 year olds.

It also claimed that many Year Seven children find social media hard to manage and become over-dependent on ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ for social validation.



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