A group at the very heart of its community, Croxteth Gems Community Association has been supporting young people and families for almost 50 years.
Junior and Senior Club Co-ordinator for Croxteth Gems Jean Hannah says, “We strive to meet belongingness needs, because they’re not always met at home. So we like to create like a family sort of ethos here, where everybody’s encouraged to look after each other. Because what you do find is when those belongingness needs are not met by a family, kids are more likely to make their own families with the kids on the street corners and that’s where if they’re left unsupervised it can all go dreadfully wrong,” she continues.
Providing a safe and supervised space for young people in the area, the Gems club also supports parents with the many different responsibilities of their roles. Providing meals and snacks for the children who use the services helps parents who are struggling financially, but the group also share their skills so that parents can not only learn to cook nutritious meals but also have the opportunity to seek support and advice.
As Jean explains, “Through those sessions, and then once they’ve done the cooking, we can sit down and have a chat. It just basically gives them an opportunity to raise issues that affect them and affect the kids. And they’re surrounded by not just ourselves, who’ve got key skills, but grandparents who’ve got their own way of how they deal with things and they’ve got a wealth of experience that they’re more than happy to pass on.”
With funding secured for the next three years through a Reaching Communities grant, the Gems are looking to support more families to experience new opportunities to build stronger relationships with each other. The group not only organise day trips to attractions and interests for the children and their families, but have recently expanded the opportunity to visit new places into a holiday programme with short breaks for the children. This is being rolled out further to allow parents and children time to bond and experience new things together.
Jean explains, “The aim has always been around children and young people, providing opportunities and new experiences for the kids, but they’re also about empowering the local community to do things for themselves.”