Weston Church Youth Project puts fun, family and faith into achieving and engaging

Weston, in Southampton, experiences many of the problems associated with densely populated housing estates, but the Weston Church Youth Project (WCYP) has been improving the lives and developing the potential of young people there since 1992.

Allchurches Trust recently granted £2,500 towards WCYP’s Faith programme, to purchase equipment to develop specific skills required by staff and enhance the programme - funding that would now be available under Allchurches Trust's new Growing Lives grants programme, which makes grants available for structural changes and equipment that help churches and Christian organisations to connect with children and young people.

Libbi Hammond, Director of WCYP, said: “For most of the young people we work with, we are their only connection to the church. Our Faith programme gives them an opportunity to explore, discuss and form beliefs in a space and with people they feel comfortable with.”

The Faith programme is one of four integrated areas of work (the charity’s holistic approach also includes Fun, Achieve and Engage programmes) supporting more than 400 children and young people on Weston estate each year.

Weston is one of the most disadvantaged areas in Southampton, which is itself an area of high need; persistent absence reports from local schools and numbers of pupils receiving free school meals are significantly higher than the national average.

As a long-established and respected part of the community, WCYP works closely with local primary and secondary schools and is the main provider of activities and out-of-school opportunities for young people in Weston.

Along with the Faith programme, WCUP’s Achieve programme supports young people to remain in and benefit from formal education. The charity works with schools to identify persistently absent or under motivated students, then helps those students to improve their attitude, self-esteem and ability to achieve.

The Engage programme includes a range of challenges and commitment-requiring projects to increase young people’s skills, enhance life chances and help their employment prospects.

And the Fun programme delivers what it says on the tin! Regular drop in groups, weekly open access youth clubs, holiday activities, adventure day trips and residential trips; all designed to be fun and accessible and to build the confidence, self-esteem, courage and social skills of children and young people.

Allchurches Trust grants officer, Paul Playford, said: “We are delighted that our recent grant to WCYP will help the charity continue to help Weston’s children and young people enjoy and develop their lives in ways they would not otherwise be able to do, helping them reach their full potential and positively contribute to their community.”

Libbi addded: “We know the Faith programme enables young people to develop a good moral compass; but it also significantly affects their wider family, school and community life. Through exploration and development of an understanding of their own beliefs and those of others, young people discuss lots of big questions openly and in ways they may not have experienced before.”