Since October 2013 the Sumac Youth Club have been running daily sessions for 7-15 year olds in Forest Fields. These sessions include, football, cooking, gardening, table tennis, pool, film showings, ice skating, home work club, lazer quest, bike rides, photography, engineering, trips to Stone Bridge city farm, and bowling. With over fifty kids attending these sessions in the last six months, we have started to become more and more organised.
Why do we do it?
Many of the youth, their parents, and other neighbours have asked why we do it?
1) Forest Fields has hardly any regular activities for young people, there are hundreds of under 16’s in Forest Fields but with the exception of the play centre on Russell road there are no spaces for these young people to go to apart from the streets which they have to share with adults and cars.
2) We reckon that every young person should have safe and comfortable spaces for them to spend time with others the same age, spaces where they are given support and encouragement to their specific needs. Each of them should be able to act in the way they feel most comfortable as they work out what is important to them without having other people’s ideas and values forced on them.
3) Some of us grew up in NG7 and can attest to some of the boredom and how easy it is to get into trouble without interesting things to do and a space outside of the family home to feel safe.
4) Class solidarity. Young people are some of the most marginalised and powerless in the country, they’re told what to do, they have little or no access to money and other resources, and they are encouraged to fight amongst each other. It’s important to us that they’re given a chance to learn how similar their situations are to one another, and that the kid who lives around the corner isn’t someone to compete with but someone to work with. We don’t push these ideas at the kids, but aim to give them a space where they can learn to work and share with one another. It’s equally important for us to recognize that we have some power and access to money and resources if only because we’re over 18, and we can use it to help and support those younger than ourselves.
5) It’s a good time. Young people have less issues then adults, they’re more open to new ideas and are more direct in communicating. They like to have fun and have a laugh. They scream, shout, laugh, fight and have a lot of energy.