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‘Juicy Blitz’ project fruitful for young people

11 March 2013

 

In this guest blog, Emma Rigby of the BIG-funded BREAD youth project in Bristol tells us about the young people she works with and how privileged she feels to witness their achievements through time at the group’s Juicy Blitz project.

Walk into Juicy Blitz, a small youth project housed in a juice and smoothie bar on the Lawrence Weston estate during ‘drop in’ and you’ll find a number of teenagers aged 11-21 years.

Often there’s a warm friendly atmosphere. It’s a safe space where young people socialise. Sometimes they are busily engaged in an activity, other times it’s noisy and feels a little hectic.

You observe, in front of you there are young people of all shapes, sizes and ages and it’s not instantly obvious why the project we provide is so important to many of them. An interested visitor might ask what they get from it and often the response is; “I’ve made new friends” or “It keeps us off the streets.” They are simple interventions which make a huge difference to their lives.

Cheque presentation to BREAD youth project

Emma Rigby (far right) celebrates BIG funding with local youngsters

What also isn’t obvious is that the young person standing before you may have had a turbulent home life or have been bullied and that if they weren’t here they’d feel isolated. They may have a parent in prison, be in foster care, or perhaps they’re a young carer. Their ‘home’ is a far from the idyllic, safe, clean space many of us would hope for.

Nor is it obvious that these experiences and difficulties have manifested themselves in a number of ways and behaviours that only become apparent over time. Low self-esteem, anger, a lack of achievement and poor mental health are things that we deal with.

As a youth worker, being with the young people day after day I gain a privileged insight into their lives. With this comes the privilege of witnessing how these young people benefit from their involvement with Juicy Blitz.

We see how the combination of a mutually trusting relationship, positive role models and the opportunity to develop skills and confidence through group work and informal education programmes builds a sense of achievement and self worth.

The most rewarding thing I’m privileged to witness is how eager these young people are to reciprocate – to volunteer, take on positions of responsibility within the project, become young leaders and develop initiatives to help other young people and the wider community.

In my job I can observe the young person standing before me and see what they’ve achieved.

Watch the video embedded in this blog to hear more about drop-in sessions at Juicy Blitz and the impact BIG funding is having on the young people and their community. Does a similar project exist near you? Have you been inspired to do the same?

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