We would like to start by just saying ‘wow’, looking back through all the social media posts you can see what we have achieved and ‘wow’ just about covers it.
It all started back in the late summer in 2021, when a few of us realised that the young people of Dartmouth seemed to be getting a raw deal in terms of the activities and spaces available to them. We decided to get together and see if we could make a difference so after a few meetings and endless emails, finally Dartmouth Youth Group was established.
With the founding principles of being as inclusive and open as possible, we decided we would keep all the activities free to those who live in Dartmouth and the surrounding area so not to exclude anyone. This meant we needed to find some upfront funds and with the help of Councillor Jonathan Hawkins, local charities, Dartmouth Town Council and generous private donations we were ready to go.
Youth Leisure Nights at Dartmouth Leisure Centre:
We launched on 14 January 2022 with a roller disco provided by Whiz Kids at Dartmouth Leisure Centre. We were expecting maybe a dozen young people to turn up, but in the end we had about 30. Our Youth Leisure Nights have now become established, with our monthly roller discos on the second Friday of the month regularly attract over 100 young people from Dartmouth and the surrounding area.
Over the first year, we have also provided basketball evenings and Kyle and his team continue to provide a popular Parkour evening on the final Friday of the month. Thanks to our supporters and volunteers, we have been able to keep all the sessions free and plan on different sessions in 2023, so watch this space.
Youth Nights at Ivy Lane:
A youth group is nothing without its own space, so in late 2021 we managed to negotiate the use of Ivy Lane with Dartmouth Town Council, it has long been used as a youth club and it was great to make use of the space again. We were gifted a new pool table, a movie projector, furniture and on 1 March 2022 we had our first night with free games and food in a safe, warm space open to those aged between 11 and 17.
As the year has gone on, we have added a foosball and table tennis table, a new space to hang out and with the help of Dartmouth Rotary have decorated the space to make it more inviting and now regularly have in excess of 30 young people turn up. Our volunteers Donna, Sean and Vanessa spend time in the kitchen making sure everyone can enjoy some hot food with Pam and Sue helping with the craft table providing various projects for young people to master. At the end of the year, we added a more chilled and accessible music session before our youth night, the sessions starting at 5pm and provided by Moor to Sea Music will be continuing throughout 2023.
Summer 2022 on Coronation Park:
In the summer, we decided to make the most of the sunshine and move the Tuesday youth club to Coronation Park and play some outdoor games, have some ice creams and get people running around and enjoying the park and sunshine. These sessions in the park grew to become really popular and with the help of a spectacular British summer we were able to make the most of our time on the park as well as give young people the opportunity to enjoy the River Dart
Our first session on the river was provided by Dartmouth Yacht Club who took 15 young people out sailing on the river in the sunshine. Our next session was provided by The Paddle Shack who took two groups of young people (and some volunteers) out paddleboarding. Our final treat of our time on the park was a trip to Morello’s who provided free waffles and milkshakes, before we headed back to the park to burn off all that sugar.
All these evenings were fuelled by food kindly donated by The Wheelhouse and Dartmouth Arms, so a big thank you to both those businesses. Before the summer ended, Mark and Caleb from the Castle and Dittisham Ferries took 20 of our members on a river trip, out to the mouth of the river and up to Dittisham. It was a wonderful end to the summer and it is truly appreciated that due to the efforts of these individuals and groups we managed to get young people on the river, some of whom hadn’t had the opportunity to do this before.
Other events and the future:
Throughout the year, we have put on other events including a Silent Disco to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. John Derby helped us put on a Scalextric night and fundraiser, with Josh from The Naked Burger providing free food. Finally, for a Christmas treat we took 32 young people on the Train of Lights and then too McDonalds for tea, thanks to Apollo IT for helping fund our first trip outside of Dartmouth.
As you can imagine, during this time friendships have been made, experiences have been had, young people have more places to go. It is great to see the difference in the young people that attend our events, the positive feedback from the parents, the connections they make and the smiles on the faces. Everything we do is free for the young people of Dartmouth and the surrounding area which means we are continuing to remain as inclusive as we possibly can.
We have obviously received a lot of help on the way, so thanks to Dartmouth Caring for your support, Dartmouth Rotary for your donations and in helping secure our Charitable Status and Dartmouth Town Council for granting us our rent money. Also, to the individuals and groups who have donated money and equipment and we are so very grateful.
A special mention to our group of volunteers who have all given generously of their time and efforts to make this all possible, every one of the Trustees, committee members and volunteers deserve the biggest pat on the back for the positive difference they have made.
To the future; due to circumstances beyond our control we will be looking for a new base but we are sure we will find something. More positively we are supporting Dartmouth Academy in their new project to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh Award to its pupils and work has started with Fusion to deliver more Youth Leisure Nights and we have more exciting trips planned, so watch this space.
Liz Moseley & Ben Cooper
Chair Vice Chair