Over the Easter holidays we visited a holiday club run by ATF Southend to see the great work they are doing to support families on the Kursaal estate.
ATF (Achieve Thrive Flourish) work with young people and their families to build stronger prouder communities and help young people develop into resilient, confident individuals. They work closely with schools in South Essex to build relationships with the local community, to start to understand the needs and issues facing those in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
We attended an afternoon Easter session at Centre Place, Kursaal and were immediately met with a sea of forty happy faces as one of the ATF coaches showed the room of children a very messy science experiment! The laughter, enjoyment and interest from children and their parents was very clear to see – with everyone wanting a go!
The holiday club, part funded by the VVU, supports families on the estate by giving them somewhere safe, free and fun to take their children, meet other families and try out activities. The more regular community sessions also support families with education, employment and financial advice. They also help with specific issues such as support with SEND, mental health concerns and counselling.
When we visited, the team had hired go-karts and the children were taking turns to go round a track on the neighbouring playground. By holding sessions outside, AFT hope more people on the estate are encouraged to pop down and see what all the noise is about (!) and then join in. Thus, building a strong sense of community and helping people make connections with other families on the estate.
We spent time chatting to the families and to some of the coaches and apprentices that help ATF deliver a comprehensive programme of work across South Essex. Many of the coaches and volunteers within the ATF family are young people and individuals who have struggled but through ATF have been given a second chance, supported to improve their mental health, self esteem and confidence.
One of the apprentices Connor, spoke about how the support ATF has given him. ATFs belief and trust in him has helped him stay engaged and motivated. He turned his back on the people who were negatively influencing his life and now wants to do the same to help other younger children.
The Easter sessions ran across the two-week holiday providing somewhere for families to go each day, with activities that the community would enjoy or had asked for.
ATF believe in creating hope for every child and young person who they work with. With hope comes aspiration which drives motivation, ambition and confidence and engaged community minded young people – many of whom we met on our visit.