South Street Kids: giving kids space to share their emotions

The after-school and Saturday club where kids can learn new practical and creative skills – and so find the space they need to be themselves. A vital service in Ipswich that’s completely free thanks to funds raised through The Health Lottery.

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Music, stop motion animation and cookery are just a few of the things on offer to the kids from Handford Hall Primary School when they join Creative Club, run by Ipswich Community Media. 

And on Saturday mornings they can head to Eastern Angles Centre for South Street Kids, a project that gives seven to twelve year olds a safe space, a voice and creative activities that build their resilience.  

“Creative Club and South Street Kids are incredibly successful in improving the emotional well-being of kids,” says project lead Alicia Durbin. “They’re a safe space to speak and a place where you’re treated like an adult. 

“Music is a powerful tool for young people to start talking about emotions and what’s going on, so the young people feel safe to talk to us in our groups and they know they’ve got each other outside of that.” 

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South Street Kids started out as a radio station in 2015, but now if you step through the doors on a Saturday morning you’ll find a whole range of activities going on, with a diverse mix of kids from different communities including Romanian, Portuguese, Roma, Lithuanian and English – and there are many more on the waiting list.

Handford Hall’s deputy headteacher, Helen Caston, chooses pupils who will benefit most from Creative Club, and, like South Street Kids, it’s free.

“We’ve looked at children who have personal challenges, issues with social skills or reduced confidence to give them experience of wider opportunities and develop the confidence and resilience to be able to speak out if they need to,” says Helen.   

“With Creative Club, they’re well aware they’re involved in something special, so they feel proud and it increases the mutual respect between the pupils and their teachers. One of the little boys I’ve chosen this time is the eldest of a very big family and he doesn’t usually get a chance to stay for after-school clubs or do anything on his own because he’s always helping out with his little brothers and sisters. 

“Now he can have that special time. He has very significant learning needs and a hearing difficulty and he’s moved schools, but now he’s got a real sense of belonging and is making great progress academically, socially and emotionally.”

Alicia often sees changes in pupils in the term that they attend Creative Club. “Some haven’t really been exposed to music and you hear them sing for the first time and they have these gorgeous voices. Once you give a young person that confidence, they start to glow.

“We often find in that first session they’re like little mice and by the end you can’t shut them up, which is exactly how it should be!” says Alicia.

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“One girl who’d experienced a bereavement at home was very reluctant to come to school, but she’d come in on the day that we had Creative Club. In the final session, you could see her enjoying herself, being quite flamboyant and looking happy, which is so important.”

But it’s only down to funding raised through The Health Lottery that the clubs can keep going. “We wouldn’t be able to come into the schools and support young people without it. We just wouldn’t have the funds, particularly with South Street Kids, where we can bring in outside organisations and collaborate to support young people to improve their mental health and social wellbeing,” says Alicia. 

Helen agrees: “I’m massively grateful to Creative Club and South Street Kids because we can’t offer that kind of support in this school. For our children, you’re giving them the opportunity to do things they wouldn’t be able to without that funding. 

“Thanks to players of The Health Lottery, they have these extracurricular creative experiences that enrich their lives. It’s something they’re excited by – it inspires them and adds to their resilience and confidence. We care about our children very much, but we have to focus on reading and writing, so this extra support is so valuable.”

South Street Kids

The current society benefitting from funds raised is YNW Health CIC T/A HL Yorkshire and Humber

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