Leys Youth Programme started in 1999 as a football club for young people in Blackbird Leys. Now it is an independent charity working with more than 450 young people every year. A grant from Oxfordshire Community Foundation has helped them provide clubs and vital mentoring in areas where educational under-achievement and social exclusion amongst young people are worryingly high.
The Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys housing estates in Oxford are the most deprived areas in Oxfordshire. Many of the young people in these areas suffer from low self-esteem, low expectations, a lack of confidence and underdeveloped social skills, child poverty and, in particular, educational under-achievement. All too often, this disadvantaged start in life leads them to develop problems later, such as antisocial behaviour, crime, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy.
Local pastor Richard Colbrook decided to address these problems head on by founding LYP. Richard comments: “The overriding aim of LYP is to bring hope for the future to young people, some of whom have given up on expecting anything positive out of life.”
Funded from a variety of sources, the programme focuses on activity clubs, which apart from their value as fun and productive ways to spend time, provide a vital mechanism for social interaction and, in particular, for the adult facilitators to counsel and mentor the young people through their challenges. “Through our projects, we build constructive relationships with young people. Starting early, we are able to demonstrate that their expectations in life can be far greater than they often believe.”
LYP received a grant of £5,000 from Oxfordshire Community Foundation, which has funded brand-new basketball, pool and arts clubs. The funding was one of a series of Diamond Grants from our Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire, which was launched during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to provide much-needed cash legacies for the county’s small and struggling charities.
“The overriding aim of LYP is to bring hope for the future to young people, some of whom have given up on expecting anything positive out of life.”
Richard Colbrook, Project Leader
Leys Youth Programme
- Youth club benefiting 450 young people every year, from age 6 to teenage years
- Provides sports and recreation, arts and crafts, and mentoring and counselling for disaffected young people in areas of social deprivation
- Poverty and hardship
- Social exclusion and crime
- Drug misuse
- Early motherhood
- Educational underachievement
- Access to much-needed funding, helping the group become more sustainable
- PR and publicity opportunities through OCF’s marketing and media relationships