The Swan’s Role:
Somewhere to go. Something to do. Someone to listen
Like many other youth projects around the country, The Swan works to support young people, by providing an environment in which their personalities and life skills can be developed, enabling them to become productive contributing individuals of society. It has a preventative role. By providing young people with support, it aims to bring with it broader benefits for society such as reducing unemployment, improving the take-up of education, reducing substance abuse, cutting crime and anti-social behaviour.
Unique in Berkhamsted
Open daily for drop-ins
Unlike many other projects, The Swan is open every weekday during term-time and at some times during the school holidays. It provides a wide range of activities, both structured and informal or a place just to meet friends and relax. It is open to everyone between the ages of 11 and 18 from Berkhamsted and the surrounding area. There is no other place like it in Berkhamsted for young people.
Aims and Values
- Involve Young People by giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility by including them in decision-making and project delivery. For instance, we have developed a Formal Member Volunteer Programme where young people are encouraged to help run the Centre and receive support and encouragement in their volunteering. Their hours are monitored and they receive a certificate in recognition of their contribution.
- Provide support and information to help young people to make informed choices about issues that concern them regarding drugs, alcohol and relationships and the sexual health project enables members to sign up for the C-Card (National Condom Distribution Scheme) and Chlamydia screening.
- Encourage creative learning through arts, music and citizenship and try out new activities such as drama, skate boarding and video making. Members have the opportunity to gain a sense of achievement when completing something they would not otherwise normally experience, e.g. performing in a band to an audience for the first time or helping to update and maintain the Swan’s website.
- Offer training opportunities in workshops such as Drugs Awareness, Careers, First Aid and Young Youth Worker courses. Members are encouraged to develop organisational and budgeting skills and experience working as a team when helping to plan and deliver the different activities.
- Undertake outreach work in local schools and community groups, and at the local skate park and football pitch to engage with the more hard to reach members of the community. We also have good links with the local Housing Foyer for homeless young people and encourage them to use our Centre and all the services we offer.
The Swan Project participates in the local community by doing such things as taking a marquee at the Berko Fest, where its bands often play, and by helping The Rotary collect funds at Christmas.
The Berkhamsted Youth Town Council (BYTC) is based at The Swan but hold their monthly meetings at Berkhamsted Council Chambers located at The Civic Centre on Wednesdays. It provides a voice for all young people in Berkhamsted and the surrounding villages. Members attend local schools and are elected by their peers.
Keeping Active. Skilling Up. Getting Creative.
Music plays a big part in life at The Swan, and we organise gig nights once a month, and encourage Members to play in bands and in public, for example at The Berko Fest. We have trips out and a yearly Swan Getaway (a five-day residential trip) all at affordable costs so that young people from low-income families are not excluded. See our Events page for the latest gigs.
Members learn about the value and importance of exercise and are offered opportunities to participate in sporting events such as five-a-side football, yoga, dance and trips to skate parks.
Our Swan Skater members deliver skate coaching sessions to younger members of the community in holiday times at the local skate park. The Swan Skaters are a group of young people who are passionate about skateboarding and want to help manage and maintain the skate park for the use of all local young people. They meet on a monthly basis and help plan and deliver skate caching sessions in the holidays for children from 8-12. By passing on their skills, the Swan Skaters help to break down the barriers between the different age groups that attend the park. See our Events page for Swan Skaters.
The charity was originally established with the aim of puchasing The Swan Inn in Berkhamsted which, at the time, was a 16th century coaching inn in danger of becoming derelict and to develop it for the benefit of the young people of Berkhamsted.
The Inn was acquired with financial support of the National Lotteries Charities Board. Although the charity owns the building most of it is leased to the Aldwyck Housing Association and the downstairs is managed by The Swan Youth Project to provide a recreational facility for the young people of the area.