Empowering Young People

A charity which empowers young people to take ownership of their activities and strategy has thanked the Steve Morgan Foundation for believing in their vision.

Youth Shedz, based in Denbigh, is the brainchild of Scott Jenkinson, who himself has recovered from difficult times in life thanks to education, and has received a three-year grant of £65,000 from the Foundation to help continue its development.

There are already five Youth Shedz in existence, with the ultimate ambition to build up a network of similar venues across Wales.

Scott takes up the story.

“I was a heroin addict for 18 years, in and out of prison,” he says.

“Education has played a massive part in my life and particularly having role models, which have been a big part of my recovery since coming out of rehab in 2008.

“I became a teacher and started working with ex-offenders and in the area of substance misuse.

“I was invited to work with a group of people in a homeless prevention unit in Grwp Cynefin and set them a task of coming up with a solution for anti-social behaviour.

“From the model that we stumbled upon, and developed, we created the idea of the Youth Shedz – by young people, for young people.

“It is a charity which is run from the ground up rather than a top-down organisational approach.

“So often something is put on for young people and they are expected to turn up, but here it is up to the young people themselves to take ownership and develop the model themselves.

“What they have achieved already has blown us away to be honest, we never expected to be where we are now.

“The ultimate vision is that there will be a Youth Shed is every town!

“We can’t do it on our own, and are now looking at a partnership approach with different organisations to support the continuing development of Youth Shedz.

“With the ones already set up, there are 11 principles to follow, and all the young people follow those principles.

“We now have a Board of Trustees, and this support from the Steve Morgan Foundation is going to make such a huge difference to the charity.”

Youth Shedz allow young people to lead and take part in a variety of different activities, and to learn new skills and qualifications in a safe environment.

The funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation will enable Youth Shedz to continue on its journey.

“We went through the whole application process with Jane from the Steve Morgan Foundation, and secured a three-year grant,” added Scott.

“I can’t tell you what a difference that has made, and it also helped us push for other funding from organisations like Bangor University.

“The young people can see that someone like Steve Morgan and the Foundation believe in them, and the boost that give them can be life-changing.

“We never wanted to ‘sell out’ by going to other organisations when we needed funding where they may want to take control and we would lose the heart and soul of what Youth Shedz is about.

“The Steve Morgan Foundation were never like that – they like the vision and what we are proposing and were more than happy to support us based on that model.”

The funding means Scott, a self-employed teacher, is able to put far more time into Youth Shedz and continue to help guide the young people when required.

“I see a mirror image of my own journey in the Youth Shedz,” he says.

“I look back, and when I left rehab I got my first flat next door to the workshop of Alex Webster, a furniture restorer from the Salvage Hunters TV programme, who has gone on to become one of my friends.

“Alex is someone I look up to and respect, and he is now helping us and working with the young people and being a positive force.

“People can come to the workshop and make things and also talk things through when they need to.

“It is all about helping the young people discover their dreams and aspirations, but doing it on their own terms where they are key in deciding what they want to do.”

*Visit www.youthshedz.comto find out more.

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