This meeting of the Camberwell Community Action Network had a fairly narrow focus on children and young people - we wanted to hear from organisations and groups who work in the field. What challenges were they facing? How can we work better together?
You’ll hopefully find out the answers to those two questions and many more in the following notes!
Alan – Arco
Hillary Rimmington – Bethwin Road Adventure Playground
Steph – Bethwin Road Adventure Playground
Jo Sadler-Lovett – Blue Elephant Theatre
Ben Messih – South London Gallery
Jack James – South London Gallery
Carmen Lindsay – Camberwell After School Project
Kieron Williams – Cllr for Camberwell Green
Robert Jamieson – Community Southwark
Ian Redding – Community Southwark
After attendees spent a little bit of time introducing themselves and the work that they did the discussion moved on to the difficulties facing young people in the area. It was acknowledged that there is an awful lot of talent (especially in terms of creativity) but that the harsh realities that a lot of young people face drive them down ‘the wrong path’. The fact that gangs deliberately use the glamour of music to recruit young people only exacerbates this problem.
Unsurprisingly the role that art/music plays in violence was raised – both intertwined is a dense subject and it is to be expected that music is considered more emotive when it comes to violence.
The impact of the introduction of Universal Credit was highlighted on families (you can read more about this here) which inevitably has had a wider bearing on people’s health and wellbeing.
In a similar vein this led into a discussion about the type of activities that are available for those with no recourse to public funds. As noted below these activities often provide respite for parents who are not in the position to afford after-school care, along with other cultural pursuits.
It was suggested that in order to be effective, any networks have to be quite local – this was illustrated by the informal example established by BET, BRAP and the Hollington Centre. This has served to help with planning and provision and it was suggested that this example could be widened across Camberwell.
The first meeting of a wider network (which would potentially gather informally once every term) could focus on a mapping session to highlight the opportunities that are available to young people in the area – do young people really know what is out there?
A key part of any network is the ability to share information, therefore it was also suggested that an informal email network could be set up for groups in Camberwell that would sit alongside the meetings. Community Southwark could play a part in orchestrating this as it wouldn’t be too demanding as long as groups and projects were willing to engage.
Southwark council had provided youth provision at the site but this had ceased last year as part of cost-cutting measures. The space is currently available for use and the people who run the centre are keen for people to submit their ideas and suggestions as to what activities could take place.
They are especially keen identify activities that could take place on weekends where there is a current dearth.
We are awaiting clarity on who the best person to approach would be and will be sending out details as soon as we know.
Three clear things were taken away from the meeting and are listed for you below:
1 – There was an appetite to create an informal network of organisations/projects that work with young people in Camberwell. This would include a way in which information could be quickly and easily shared and a commitment to meet informally once a term to discuss emerging networks and improve relationships.
2 – Maps. It would be very useful to know exactly what was out there for young people to do in the area. I’ll be working on this in the coming weeks.
3 – Camberwell Leisure Centre – We know now that there is potential space that needs filling! We need to find out the logistics around that and can then start working on how to fill it.
If you would like to get involved with any of these then please do get in touch. Robert@communitysouthwark.org.
Here’s a little bit more about each of the attendees’ organisations/projects because information = knowledge and knowledge = power!
South London Gallery’s Art Block
Jack and Ben kindly gave us a brief history of SLG’s presence on the Sceaux Garden estate. The Art Block is the third space that SLG have occupied in their ten-year presence on the estate and hope that it is seen as a statement of permanence and commitment to the local community.
The project is funded by the Freelands Foundation and allows them to reach communities with art whilst working with people outside of the gallery context. The space is currently used for all kinds of activities and is open-access provision for children after school (with an emphasis on making stuff). They get around 20 kids per session but are also seeing more children accession the traditional gallery via their ‘Sunday spot programme’.
It has taken a long time to develop trust and a good relationship with residents on the estate but that hard work now seems to be paying off. Half of the staff who work on the programme were themselves children on the estate.
For more information about Art Block please click here or get in touch for Ben or Jack’s contact details.
Blue Elephant Theatre
Simply put, a lot of BET’s outreach work involves trying to provide an artistic opportunity for people who don’t often get it. They reach around 2000 children a year in primary schools though their Creative Minds project and also target secondary schools with their ‘Speaking Out’ initiative. The latter looks to provide an opportunity to normalise and verbalise mental health issues. The project also trains young people themselves to become facilitators.
Not only does this work seek to improve the health and wellbeing of young people, it also provides respite for family members.
Bethwin Road Adventure Playground
Based near Blue Elephant the playground provides open access play facilities five days a week (including on Saturday). Activities include sports, healthy eating, table tennis, pool, gardening, arts and crafts and trips during the holidays.
The club aims to provide children with structure every night of the week and a diverse mix of kids attend.
The playground is one of only a few left in Southwark and is receiving its lowest level of funding in its 30+ year history.
Camberwell After School Project (CASP)
CASP provides a range of after school activities for children from a pool of five local schools in Southwark.
They are currently operating out of two sites but are potentially losing the Jack Hobbs Centre due to being priced out by having to pay market rents, despite being a charity.
Their AGM is taking place on the 24th of November so please do get in touch if you wish to attend.
Arco Academy provides alternative provision for children who have been excluded from school and is based at Camberwell Leisure centre.
If anyone would like more support in getting connected or developing ideas and initiatives please contact a member of our team: firstname.lastname@example.org