Young lives are being turned around thanks to funds from Freemasons supporting the efforts of YMCA youth workers.
A team of six youth workers based at The Showroom on Tritton Road in Lincoln work with more than 2,500 young people aged between five and 25 to encourage positive behaviour, saving Police time in dealing with crime and council funds in putting right damage caused.
The work isn’t exclusively Lincoln-based; the team also works on RAF bases and the Lincolnshire coast, in areas of high deprivation.
And although funding for local youth work has been cut by 91% – more than £1.1bn – in recent years, positive outcomes are still being achieved thanks to donations like the £39,600 just given by the Freemasons’ charity the MCF. Says Head of Youth Services Leo Copsey: “‘We’re so grateful for this significant amount of funding from the Masonic Charitable Foundation – it represents and supports the core aims of our youth delivery, the impact of which is recognised by schools and local authorities. With a grant of this size, we can reach an additional 400 young people through our interventions.”
But it pays dividends, says Leo. Opening The Showroom for young people for a couple of hours every weeknight after school and before they eat an evening meal reduces the window of opportunity for them to get involved in mischief and anti-social behaviour in areas where fierce pride in their own postcode areas can generate a gang culture and violence. Opening hours will be extended in February to include 10am to 4pm on Saturdays.
The positive outcomes achieved are significant. As Leo explained: “Undoing ten or more years of bad or absent parenting takes a lot of work. One young man used to be arrested two or three times a week because a night in the cells was better than being at home, and he was in school less than ten minutes a day. He’s now in a different school, attending much more regularly, and hasn’t been arrested for a long time. The YMCA supported him in making that change, and it’s the kind of change your funding helps to deliver.”
At The Showroom there are traditional youth club activities alongside sports and the ‘softer’ activities like photography, art, and music. Monday sessions and our bespoke support packages are all free, and the young people attending do so out of choice.
PGM Dave Wheeler said: “Our donation to activities at The Showroom clearly has a huge positive impact, but charity isn’t just about giving money. Lots of Freemasons ask what they can do for the communities in which we live. Getting involved with initiatives like the work done by the dedicated YMCA professionals at The Showroom would be a great place to start.”