We hope you enjoy browsing our website and seeing some of the things we get up to at Switch youth Services! Opening times: Term time Tuesday to Friday 3.30pm-7.00pm. Non term times Tuesday to Friday 2.00pm-7.00pm – Age range 11-21 years.
Last year we worked with 2753 young people primarily across Maidstone but also county wide (as far as Dartford and Dover). We also develop and run a range of programmes and activities that respond to or pro-actively tackles needs.
SYNOPSIS OF SWITCH
Switch operates an inclusive, open access youth cafe with 5 rooms for young people (11-21) to attend, enjoy, relax, socialise and access support if required. We have a pool table, gaming consoles, a chill out room, an IT Suite and a 1-2-1 mentoring room. We place emphasis on informal education to enhance the personal, social and emotional development of young people and are particularly adept at working with disadvantaged, disengaged and hard to reach young people. The youth café is open 4 days a week from 3.30-7 Tues, Wed, Thurs and 3.30-7 Fri. We have 2 paid staff, 10 adult volunteers and 4 young volunteers. Last year we worked with 2753 young people primarily across Maidstone but also county wide (as far as Dartford and Dover). We also develop and run a range of programmes and activities that respond to or pro-actively tackles needs.
- Crime Diversion and Substance Misuse Programmes – both are 6 week, 12 hours exploring attitudes and beliefs, substance misuse and its impact, choices and consequences, myths around criminal activity, prison life, the law including joint enterprise, and the effect of behaviour on others (victim empathy). These honest and hard-hitting programmes are delivered by our Lead Youth Worker who has had over 40 convictions due to substance misuse but has been in recovery and conviction free for over 14 years. These are delivered in schools, and pupil referral units.
- 1-2-1 Mentoring – young people on the periphery of, or in the youth justice system, are mentored by our Lead Youth Worker which includes our Crime Diversion programme. On average, a young person is mentored for between 4-6 months. Often with referrals from Early Help, and Youth Offending Team.
- Assemblies/Personal Health Social Education (PHSE) Days – discussing and presenting on topics such as knife crime, gang affiliation and County Lines, educating young people so they can make informed choices and understand the signs of potential grooming into criminal and gang related activity.
- Home Education group – we open early for 2 hours each Friday during term time to offer young people the opportunity to engage with pro-social activity that they may miss by not attending main-stream school. Many home-schooled young people do so, due to high levels of anxiety and/or a lack of confidence. The aim is to help reduce said anxiety and build confidence in preparation of joining the work force once schooling is complete.
- Multi-Agency Outreach Programme – working in the most challenging areas for Anti-Social behaviour within Maidstone, primarily the High Street and Brenchley Gardens. Building relationships, entering discussion on behaviour, choices, and consequences, providing a safe space for those that need it. We also refer young people to the café which deliberately remains open until 7pm so that young people can remove themselves from the streets. We are currently preparing to expand this work onto trains in and from London in partnership with the British Transport Police and Southeastern. Within the last year, reported ASB, by young people, has reduced by 30%.
- Youth Volunteering – young people gain valuable work experience working in the café with responsibilities for cash handling, customer service, cleaning, opening, and closing procedures and food preparation. All young volunteers are guided through a Level 2 qualification in Food and Hygiene so that they have a better route into employment once schooling is completed. At the end of the year, we take these young people for a Christmas Meal as a thank you!
- Adult Volunteering – currently 80% of our adult volunteers are all in recovery for Substance Misuse. Once they have demonstrated they have been in recovery for a minimum of 6 months and with suitable DBS checks made, the volunteers, in their words, give back to a community from which they have taken. Never glorifying their past, they are able to offer real life experience that young people respond to. Additionally, we support them with training (level 1 and 2) in a range of areas such as safeguarding, duty of care and working with children. As a result, several volunteers have gone on to find paid employment elsewhere, these roles include Youth Workers x 2, Business Development, Teaching Assistant, and a History Teacher.
- Reward trips- Last year, we decided the young people we were engaging with deserved a reward trip. Therefore, we raised money through a Channel Cycling Challenge and managed to take 15 disadvantaged, hard-to-reach, young people to Thorpe Park. This was something they would never normally get to experience; they were so appreciative and said they had made memories for life. After such a successful outcome, stronger professional relationships with these young people, we have decided that we will have to do it again! This year, with the help of young people, we swam 1000 lengths of Mote Park Swimming Pool (25km). This in itself felt like a little trip for young people, they loved it! We also raised a massive £2,341 to take young people on trips this year. Thank you to everyone who have supported us.
We also work with organisations such as the Police, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council, Early Help, Youth Offending Team, OneMaidstone and a range of youth agencies
Although not facilitated by us, we also host the Street Pastor team who use Switch as a base on a Friday and Saturday evening where they head into town and support people in need that have been utilising the Night-Time Economy!
We are also part of the Town Centre Task Force team at both operational and strategic level, the Local Children’s Partnership group (LCPG) and attend monthly Designated Contextual Safeguarding Meetings (DCSM). While working in isolation at times, we also work with organisations such as the Police, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council, Early Help, Youth Offending Team, OneMaidstone and a range of youth agencies.
Recent recognition has come from Colyer Fergusson Charitable Trust as winners of their 50th Anniversary Awards for Community Impact stating that we are a ‘dynamic and energetic community organisation offering a safe haven for young people where they can access guidance and support from Youth Workers’ along with runners up in the High Street Awards for Maidstone and as finalists at the Kent Charity Awards.
We operate four main funding streams. General fundraising, corporate and personal sponsorship, commissioned projects and grant funding. Some of the organisations that Switch have collaborated with in the recent past include Kent Police Crime Commissioner’s Fund, Violence Reduction Unit, Colyer Fergusson Charitable Trust, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council and Uni Connect.