As the year draws to a close we take a moment to reflect on the last 12-months and the incredible journey we’ve been on. A quick run of the statistics reports reveals that 2022 has been another year of continued growth and development for Blackpool’s leading children’s charity. We celebrate 30,608 attendances (2021: 19,914) and a minimum of 1,140 individual children and young people (2021: 850) who have engaged with our services throughout the year.
Now, just before we embark on the next step of our quest, let’s take a look at our favourite moments of 2022 in no particular order.
Our Grand Union Canal Residential
In January and February 2022 a group of young people took full responsibility for the planning and delivery of a 7-day canal residential. They produced their own risk assessments and kit lists; they planned a menu and completed all their own shopping; and they crewed the boats for 8 days undertaking all manner of tasks including driving, locking, cleaning and cooking.
The environment we create is not a simulation, it’s reality. Each boat’s crew is given a budget of £2,000 which they must work within to hire the boat, fund the catering costs and keep themselves entertained! The young people are provided with amble opportunity to make choices and practice life-skills in a safe and supervised environment.
EmpowHER – Girls in the Lead
Our EmpowHER Programme was launched in February 2022 in partnership with UK Youth. This programme has been planned and delivered entirely by young women and their female Youth Workers.
Since its launch the young women and girls have learnt about different sanitary products, buts also campaigned for their free availability in schools; they have planned a ‘technology free’ trip to Ingleton Waterfalls Trail; participated in a residential experience to PGL; enjoyed fine-dining at one of Manchester’s top restaurants, The Cosy Club; and, most recently, marched in the ‘Reclaim the Night’ protest in partnership with Empowerment Charity.
Work with Asylum Seekers
In March 2022 we were approached by Blackpool Council to see if we could offer any support to the Asylum Seekers living at the Metropole Hotel on Central Promenade.
Although there was some controversy around their stay, we wished to remain politically-neutral and placed our focus on the fact that, irrespective of opinion, these children and their families were incredibly vulnerable and had suffered some unimaginable traumas. Our priority was to try and bring some joy to their lives during their stay in our town.
We spent almost 6-months providing 3-hours of positive activity each day for more than 100 children. It was a really enlightening experience for our staff team who had to overcome various cultural and language barriers, but we formed some really lovely relationships with this group and we were all saddened when the project came to an end.
Urban Arts Project
As part of the 80,000 contact hours we’ve provided during 2022 for children and young people across Blackpool we delivered an ‘Urban Arts’ project in partnership with our friends Skool of Street (Feat. House of Wingz!) during the Easter Holidays in April. This project gave young people freedom of expression. They co-produced a dance routine, learnt skateboarding skills and created some wonderful graffiti art which is now on display at their Bloomfield Youth Centre.
On your bike!
As a charity we are committed to unlocking the barriers that prevent young people from participating. As such, everything we provide is completely free-of-charge but we also ensure that all equipment is provided. That’s why we own our own fleet of bikes and qualified cycling instructors who can ensure our groups can enjoy the sport safely.
Naturally, we’re The Boathouse Youth, so we don’t just go for a little ride along the promenade – we take young people away, get them sleeping in hammocks overnight and help them develop the skills to cook breakfast on an open fire. Why? Because providing young people with the opportunity to practice the skills they’re learning in different environments is how we create permanent change in their lives.
This year was the first full-year of our Pathway Programme, which launched in April 2021. The Pathway Programme works with children and young people who have additional needs and disabilities and was formed following the closure of Blackpool charity Aspired Futures.
We are incredibly proud of the fact that thanks to continued support from our major donors and funding from The National Lottery Community Fund that we are in a position to make the reasonable adjustments necessary to enable young people with additional needs to participate in our magic. We are now able to offer personal care services and one-to-one support.
This programme delivers 5 session each week for children with varying levels of abilities and follows a progressive scheme designed to enable the members to transition into our Universal Programme. Almost every offer available to other children is provided to those working on this programme. It was a very special moment this year when the children joined us on our Summer Camp in August.
Holiday Activity & Food Programme
The HAF Programme is a national government funded scheme that The Boathouse Youth delivers on behalf of Blackpool Council. This programme has been a great success and we are now able to offer between 350 – 400 places per day during peak times.
We operate the programme across 5-7 different sites depending on demand and our wide-variety of activities keeps things interesting for the children and young people involved. Every single child benefits from a minimum of 4hrs positive activity and receives a free, healthy meal as part of the package. Ultimately, we’re trying to enable the participants to remain in a structured routine and reduce the increased pressure on households during what can often be a difficult time. The engagement with our service also means we can identify any additional issues that might arise during school-closures.
It’s the biggest gig of the year! Our Summer Camp took place throughout the majority of August, at Bibby’s Farm Scout Activity Centre in Chorley. This year we topped last year’s figures by providing this experience for around 180 children and young people Aged 10 – 16.
The participants spend 5-days on site and during that time they engaged with a series of adventurous activities (such as crate staking, canoeing and rock climbing), headed-out on some great day trips (such as The Crocky Trail and Alton Towers), and spent their nights sleeping in tents or hammocks depending on their preference.
The youngsters are also actively involved in keeping the site well-maintained. Their jobs including collecting and preparing wood for the fire, washing-up and helping to prepare meals.
This year the camp was supported by some of Platinum Patrons included Key Retirement Group, FCMS, Tandem Bank and Perch Group. Thank you so much for everything you continue to do for us.
Be Inspired Business Awards
We are officially the Highly Commended Community Business of the Year 2022 according to the judges of the Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.
Young Leadership Academy
In September 2022 we launched our Young Leadership Academy in partnership with the National Youth Agency.
We have a history of ‘growing our own’ at The Boathouse Youth. We place great emphasis on our Youth Workers having lived experience of the challenges that growing up in Blackpool can bring so that they understand some of the complexities facing our current members.
This group of 14-16 year olds are approaching the end of their journey with The Boathouse Youth as young people and beginning their transition into Young Leadership and then Adult Leadership. During this programme the group will learn First Aid, Health & Safety and Food Hygiene. They will also complete a Level 2 Award in Youth Work Principles which is the gateway to them beginning their degree in Youth & Community Work and becoming JNC Qualified Youth Workers.
Children & Young People Now Awards
The Boathouse Youth was one of five finalists (from around 250 nominations) in the Youth Work Category (sponsored by the National Youth Agency) at the Children & Young People Now Awards. The ceremony was held at The Hurlingham Club down in London. It was a real privilege for us to be in attendance and represent Blackpool on a national platform such as this.
Our annual Christmas Dinner is a great opportunity for young people, volunteers, staff and local businesses to come together and celebrate Christmas.
More than 70 children and young people prepared and enjoyed a full turkey roast with all the trimming during mid-December. Every single item of food, drink and decoration was donated by local businesses – with a special thank you going to Booths Supermarkets who were the main sponsor.