Several months ago we got together with SoLO, Gro-Organic and Urban Heard – with the support of the Colebridge Trust – to put together a bid for funding to work with young people after local youth centres had closed and workers had been made redundant and all us four organisations wanted to come together to do something for these older children and teenagers – many of whom were coming to the playground because there was nowhere else to go. Well the great news is that the bid to the Youth Investment Fund (which is jointly funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Big Lottery Fund, using money raised by National Lottery players) has been successful! This means that over the next three years we have now secured salaries for most of the playground staff and we have gained a half time youth development worker (welcome Penny!) and a half-time admin worker (welcome Bethany!) as well as several sessional youth workers (recruiting these at the moment!).
The partnership with SoLO, Urban Heard and Gro-Organic has now been christened Y.A.S. (Youth Adventure Synergy) and we will be working closely together to develop programmes of work at the playground which will give young people – disabled and non-disabled – in North Solihull the opportunity to get involved in horticulture, building, marketing, paid work, event management, social action or they can just come and be kids; build fires, chop wood or fly through the sky with the playground’s undeniably unique swings, platforms and climbing frames. Young people still need to play, let off steam and have fun!
Who’d have thought a year ago we would be in this position?! It’s amazing what we can all do when the community and community-rooted organisations work together – congratulations North Solihull!
We also now have a licence with Solihull Council for the use of the playground land which will next year become a lease, so that means MAPA is now responsible for bills and all repair and maintenance (so fund-raising still goes on!).