A resource that’s vital to Berkhamsted’s future generations – the Swan Youth Centre (SYC) – is struggling for funds, and it needs the town to be more involved.
The Swan has lost almost 50% of its funding in recent years and it needs about £45,000 just to maintain the facilities and activity programmes it offers.
Penny Perry, manager of the SYC, says: ‘Recently we have depended more on individuals and the energy of fundraisers.
‘Ideally, we would like townspeople to take more interest. We are looking for the commitment of the community in our young people. These are our kids and we want them to feel part of the town.’
The centre’s staff and volunteers are trained to help on issues that may be too sensitive for young people to talk about to parents or teachers. ‘We look after them sharing social tools, leading to their social development,’ says Penny. ‘We don’t talk directly to their parents, but we can try to help them too by helping their children.’
Members are 11-18 years old. The 11-13 year-olds have a special drop-in night so that activities can be targeted at a younger age group. After reaching 19, some come back as volunteers.
‘Kids see it as a safe place to be, which is theirs,’ Penny says. ‘And there’s a free cup of tea or coffee. They spend money on and run the snack bar, also dip into the free fruit bowl, come up with and cook healthy meal ideas. They contribute by putting on gig nights at the centre. The more people who use it, the more other people will come.’
She concludes: ‘It would be wonderful to have one big sponsor, but I’d love to have a core group that really cares and involves itself and gives a certain amount each month.’ If you can help, please contact Penny on 01442 834349.