How to Set Up a Youth Group
Setting up a youth group can be a long and often difficult road, involving more work than you might expect. But at the end of that road is the opportunity to improve the life not only of local youngsters, but also to help to foster a stronger sense of community in your neighbourhood. This article will help you to understand the five steps required to found a youth club.
Making Contact with the CouncilIt’s essential that you establish contact with the local council as soon as possible. They are likely to have a team of people dedicated to community safety and/or young people, who will be able to advise you on every element of starting up a youth club. Make sure you ask them whether they have any literature or guidance that they can give you, whether they might be able to help with funding, and whether they agree with you that there is a genuine need for some sort of club for young people in the area. Should there be other youth clubs in the area, they may be able to put you in touch with other leaders who can assist you in coming up with a workable plan.
A Plan for the ClubThe most important questions you should be asking as you seek to set up a youth group are, “What do young people actually want to do? And what can I do to organise events which appeal to them, but are also well-run, safe, and character-building?” The best way of finding out the answers to these questions is to get out there and ask youths what they would want from such a club. They may well surprise you with their answers, and you will certainly have a more accurate vision for the group after you have done this research.
Finding the Right VenueYouth groups have historically met in community-orientated places such as church halls or local sports centres, but you should be pro-active in researching other venues which may work. It is very important that you organise a space which is focused towards young people; if the kids feel uncomfortable in the venue then they may stop coming. If possible, try to include your prospective attendees in the process of decorating the venue, so that they have a sense of ownership and inclusion from the beginning. However, with venues at a premium in many areas, you may wish to consider sharing a space with another club, in which case you may not have as much freedom to make the venue your own. Finally, you need to consider all the youth in your area, which means ensuring that the venue is accessible for those with limited mobility.
FundingYouth clubs are not easy to organise, and funding is one way in which you can make the task a lot easier. The best way of getting funding is to approach certain organisations which are devoted to helping communities, such as the National Lottery Community Fund. When approaching these organisations, it is important that you clearly set out the aims and objectives of the club, as well as exactly what funding you require, and where the money will go should you receive it. Aim to be clear, professional and organised in your presentation.
Insurance and Legal ConsiderationsThese days there are several legal factors to consider when setting up a club for young people. You will need to ensure the venue is covered by a public liability insurance policy, so that if there are any accidents or mishaps, the venue, you and the club’s members are all covered. This may entail health and safety checks or risk assessment, so be prepared for large amounts of paperwork. You will also need to ensure that all leaders, whether paid or voluntary, have gone through a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure which shows that they are suitable for work with young people. Finally, you will need to establish a Child Protection Policy. Your local council will often be able to assist you in all of these matters.
Once you’ve gone through these organisational measures, it only remains for the club to begin! This is the most exciting part of running a youth club, and it’s important to use the momentum of the first few weeks to establish a routine and to gather ideas for the future from the youth who are attending.Ask them questions about what they want to do, and build the club’s activities around their dreams and desires. It’s also important to establish an atmosphere of discipline and structure, so that the kids know where their boundaries are. The process of setting up a youth club can be arduous, but the benefits definitely outweigh the difficulties – good luck with your new venture!