This week we enjoyed a presentation from Sarah Turner, co-leader of Kidz Klub, a charity which for over 24 years has supported disadvantaged and marginalised children and families across Leeds.
Sarah explained to us that Kidz Club grew out of the experience of the owners of a property in Osmondthorpe. Whilst renovating the property, they saw that it was a magnet for children who had nowhere else to play. They contacted youth leaders and local churches, the churches pooled resources, and a charity was set up. The charity is Christian but open to all. They developed an eye-catching logo featuring a big red heart, and began to collect children for outings in their own double decker bus, and to visit them in their homes.
From the outset the ethos was not to impose top-down solutions, but to experience life in the communities they serve, to work alongside children and families, and to support them in their own decisions about their needs.
The achievements of the charity are impressive. They have a network of ‘hub clubs’, small clubs within walking distance of the children, where weekly meetings of ‘minis, midis and maxis’ take place back to back. They have a ‘central Club’ where a double decker bus collects parents and children for an hour of songs, games and other fun, sometimes involving custard pies. They teach the older children core skills in teamwork and communication.
They make home visits, delivering colouring sheets, chatting and listening to any concerns. They sometimes mentor children before the school day, taking them out for breakfast.
They have ‘world changer’ parties where the children are encouraged to suggest their own projects to benefit the community, eg litter picking, which involved local councillors. The children have successfully lobbied for a playground to be built in a local park, with pop-up exercise classes.
The Council has asked the charity to take on play streets work in priority areas. Poignantly, these have occasionally been set up in areas recently scarred by a violent crime, which provides some emotional support to traumatised communities.
The Charity has developed its family support work in response to requests for help. This involves supporting the parents to work through debt challenges, to deal with foodbanks, or even to flee domestic violence. Support has particularly been needed during lockdown, where issues arose around the effects of isolation.
Over the last 24 years, Kidz Klub has reached 26,000 children, making over 600,000 home visits. They were recently nominated for a BBC Makes a Difference Award to honour the commitment of their volunteers.
The charity relies on grants and charitable donations. It is able to maintain a staff team of 22, with many more volunteers including retired professionals, many from the communities they serve, including those who have grown up with Kidz Klub and want to stay and become young leaders.
Although too modest to say so, Sarah must count as one of the charity’s greatest assets. Still youthful and vivacious after 22 years service to the charity, living in the inner city communities she serves, her passion for the children remains undimmed. She spoke several times of giving the children love, and of the joy she felt working with colleagues united in their love of the children. She told us that the Charity’s tee shirt with a big heart on it was there to symbolise that ‘At the heart of Kidz Klub is love, seeing children who often feel overlooked because of the situation in their own community or in their home circumstances; getting alongside them to see where they’re at, and to love them.’
Kidz Klub is lucky to benefit from such commitment.
Get in touch with Roundhay Rotary Club:
0113 266 6203