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READ THE LATEST LEADERSHIP TEAM BLOG - SUNDAY, 17th FEBRUARY, 2019
I should like to take this opportunity to share more about the King’s Arms. The full report Is on the website. King’s Arms Chair persons report 2018
I cannot believe how incredible this project is and would start by asking you to get in touch with us and hear firsthand how much kindness and volunteering has changed the lives of so many local young people.
However, I want to go back over twenty years and tell the story of where we came from. At that time the newspaper headlines were full of gangs of young people causing disturbances in the town centre, particularly on weekends and particularly drunken behaviour and shop windows being broken. I attended a meeting called by the Mayor Councillor John Crowhurst, with all concerned parties present, Police, Traders, EHDC and the Town Council. As a teacher, at the
local Secondary School, I was also invited, I knew all about the poor behaviour. However, instead of CCTV and more PCSO presence, which many suggested, I suggested that they needed something to do! Perhaps a youth club! This struck a chord with many around the table and so the project began. EHDC under Councillor Bob Ayres granter a start up of £5K and a friend Lynn Norris persuaded Winton House trustees to let us hire Wednesday and Friday evening to
hold open sessions. The churches were quick to source volunteers and we had begun, it was not easy and we were often confronted the drunken behaviour of the minority leading to some difficult evenings. Friends with the same vision were keen to join in, Michael Miller and Peter Norris manned Friday evenings, often the most challenging for many years.
Another friend Robin Ashfield took me to see a rundown building just off the Festival Hall car park, it was terrible but it was a space which could be ours full time, Peter Norris and a few more friends convened a steering group and we bought the first lease only to find the floor needed strengthening and new staircase was require along with so much more, thanks David Hall our volunteer surveyor. Now big money was needed and a local Church now called Life
Church Petersfield emptied its bank account and gave £60K. Professional builders did so much work, however, there are many reading this who spent days nailing up stud walls or sanding plaster board. Thanks to our volunteer architect Graham Swann for his brilliant designs. The project became a registered Charity and a Company Limited by guarantee. We opened but volunteers who all had other jobs were no match for the scope of what was unfolding. Step in Bill Pearce who left a successful career to be our first employee and full time centre manager and youth worker.
There are so many people who have given so much to us over the years, individual monthly gifts, trust funds, fundraising not to mention that every year the churches of Petersfield always give us substantial support. Our second Centre Manager was Hannah Turner and we are so grateful for her input. Today we have Caroline Aeschliman at the helm and the work we do is utterly exception, still I expect you know that already. Thank you to hundreds of people in this area who have helped us on this journey and still give generously of their time energy and finance. Most youth works have a shelf life but here at the King’s Arms we have seen continual growth and expansion. Please support us as we seek to change the outcomes of so many lives, enriching the experience of young
carers, children with special needs, those with mental health issues and those who benefit so much from an opportunity to forget work and targets for a moment and just be themselves. Our after-school team provide such a valuable support for so many young people.
We still consider a more permanent home, as the Courtyard building is ours only on repeating short term leases but the work is amazing probably thanks to all the people reading this report. A final reminder that youth work is always ongoing and never finished. In this area we have seen the dramatic increase of mental health issues, whilst others fall prey to drug and alcohol abuse. Our society is seeing a rise in complex needs among our young people which both central and local government are no longer providing services for. As a local charity we are proud to be part of a community response that says we will not let our children down. (John Callaghan )
CHURCH + BREAKFAST
At The Petersfield School
A light breakfast from 10.30 a.m. All-Age Meeting, 11.00 a.m. - 12.00