Fringe Box



YMCA’s Plantation Takes on Significant New Projects

Published on: 21 Aug, 2012
Updated on: 22 Aug, 2012

At a time when many charities are tightening belts and making savings, Plantation, Guildford YMCA’s youth department is expanding its field of operation. 

Staff from Plantation talk to young people in Guildford town centre.

Thanks to Surrey County Council’s decision to outsource the running of its youth centres Plantation, as a member of The Youth Consortium (Surrey and Borders) has taken over the management of three venues in Guildford, Ash and Haslemere. Alongside this there is a further commitment to seek out young people who are at risk of becoming NEET, ie Not in Education, Employment or Training.

Plantation has gained a reputation for delivering high quality, effective youth work. Prince’s Trust Teams now run in Guildford, Egham, Reigate and Crawley. Youth projects manager Sarah O’Brien said: “At Plantation we work hard to fulfil our YMCA’s mission statement to ‘engage with young people, especially those aged between 14 to 25 years of age, through positive relationships and help them move on in their journey of personal and spiritual development’.

“Over the past year we have seen 62 of the 87 young people who took part in our Prince’s Trust Teams move into employment or further education within three months of completing the programme. We are delighted at this success.”

Of course, many young people don’t find their way to Plantation, so under the terms of a new contract with Surrey County Council youth workers are spending time on the streets looking out for young people. A short questionnaire breaks the ice and leads to further conversation about current employment or training and aspirations for the future.

Taking on the task of seeking out these young people who may currently be ‘under the radar’ are Hannah Nicholson and a small team of experienced youth workers. They have taken up the challenge with enthusiasm and have already managed to meet many young people at GuilFest and the Olympic Torch Relay Event.

Hannah said: “We have already made contact with a huge amount of young people on outreach both in Guildford and Ash, and there are new groups starting over the next few weeks. I hope that this work will introduce us to many young people who don’t yet know Plantation. We know that we can help them gain in self confidence, make new friends and get any support they need.”

Young people who engage with Plantation projects and youth workers speak highly of the impact it has on their lives. Raff, 19, first visited Plantation Cafe with a friend early last year. Since then he’s become “one of the family” and is making the most of what Plantation has to offer.

He said: “I started volunteering in the cafe earlier this year. Ideally I want to find use my training as a car mechanic but for now I’m also doing two days a week gardening with Plantation Trading – despite my hay fever!

“Plantation has made a big difference to me. It’s given me work to do while I look for full time employment. And it’s been really helpful to meet with a youth worker one to one. He gives me a chance to talk through things I’m finding difficult, and encourages me to make positive choices for the future.”

Over the coming months new projects will be starting alongside existing ones at the youth centres in Ash, Guildford and Haslemere, spreading the Plantation effect to the benefit of a wider group of young people.

For more information on Plantation projects visit or call 01483 888122.

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