With the support of Benefact Trust funding, Relational Hub will be able to support the development and launch of a further 15 community youth projects in partnership with local churches, over the next three years.
Relational Hub was developed as a result of CEO Andy Gill’s personal experience. As a young person, being a carer for his parents during his teenage years, Andy received the support and opportunities he needed in this challenging time through local church youth workers. This experience ignited his passion for youth work, in supporting other young people through the challenges that life throws at them.
In 2005, in the face of significant cuts to statutory youth services, Andy launched The Leatherhead Youth Project which grew into a thriving local charity reaching hundreds of young people per year. Its operational principles are the foundation of how Relational Hub supports churches to set up and run impactful youth projects, targeting the most vulnerable young people.
Andy Gill, Founder and CEO, said: “We believe that ‘the church’ is uniquely placed to positively respond to the significant challenges faced by young people across the UK, many of which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and a year of restricted living and lockdowns.
“Churches often understand the needs of local young people but lack the expertise, knowledge and funding to run effective community youth work projects. We are passionate about partnering with churches, helping them to deliver projects that are sustainable, well run and have a big impact on the lives of local young people, especially those most in need.”
Relational Hub currently supports partner organisations who deliver over 4,000 hours of open access youth work to over 1,000 young people per year.
Relational Hub is currently conducting a research project alongside The Youthscape Centre for Research and their partners, interviewing and surveying young people to better understand how Christian-led community youth work impacts their lives.
Jake Tucker, Manager of Thirst Youth Café, said: “Because of Relational Hub’s support over the past 18 months, we have significantly increased our positive impact by raising additional funds, growing our team and by using Relational Hub’s range of tools, expertise and encouragement. Without the ongoing support we would certainly not be where we are today”
A young person from Bell Tower Youth Drop-In, commented: “I like the Bell Tower because it is fun and I can see my friends. If it wasn’t here, I don’t know what I would do as I would have nowhere to go. I help on the Young Leaders Programme where I volunteer to set up, keep things clean, and serve drinks and snacks to other young people.”
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, added: “Covid-19 has had a serious impact on young people’s mental health and increased feelings of isolation and loneliness.
“We’re delighted that our funding can support Relational Hub to empower more churches to be a part of the solution, reaching out to vulnerable young people in the most challenging of times.
“An increase in church-led youth projects will help young people reconnect with their peers, gain new experiences and skills, and open up about how they’re feeling in a safe and friendly environment.”