SWAY- facebook page South Wight Youth

Island charity SWAY is developing, growing and still working its magic in the South Wight area, on the Isle of Wight.

Following nation-wide cuts to local authorities five year’s ago, the community of St. Mary’s and Brighstone Methodist churches came together and magicked up SWAY, which to date, is the only youth organisation in the southern area of the Island.

The charity works with young people aged between eleven and eighteen, covering the areas from Niton to Brook, it operates with an “open access” policy during the term-time -with things happening four times a week. During the holidays the young people have the chance to go on adventures in a group, recently they have gone fishing, bowling and swimming.

Scroll for photos and an interview.

The charity’s work is continuing to develop, not only with the young people in their communities but also their families. Jenny Burke is SWAY’s family worker and for two and a half years now has been working part-time alongside Andy, to personally help those who are struggling.

Andy Dorning the project leader told Isle of Wight Radio:

“I think it’s really important for young people to have a sense of community where they live, it’s also important there’s an organisation that’s able to sign post them and their families so they can gather support.”

This weekend (24-25 August) seventeen young people with 6 volunteers are travelling to the Lake District, to take on the physical and mental challenges of nature, by climbing mountains.

For most, this is a completely new experience but they are taking on the task, in a safe environment, surrounded by adults who want them to full-fill their potential and discover how to make the right choices. Previously, they have camped out but this year they are staying in a bunkhouse, so they can have somewhere comfortable to sleep.

Volunteers are recruited from the local area and SWAY are always looking.

From September, they are being recruited for one evening a week, which usually revolves around a theme, the children often play games or have some down-time.

SWAY would like helpers who are not necessarily experienced in working with young people but are keen to encourage them to fulfil their potential and someone who wants to give something back to their community. 

But why is SWAY different?

  1. Informal.
  2. No fee.
  3. Low-key.
  4. Somewhere to gather and socialise within your local community.
  5. A neutral, safe space.
  6. Film-nights, game nights.

From September, SWAY will open its doors in places such as:

  1. Brighstone School.
  2.  Shorwell Village Hall.
  3. Chale Hut.
  4. The Exchange.
  5. Churches.

SWAY is also working on getting access to a new and exciting building in Chale, which would give the young people even more opportunities to learn new skills.

Those who attend the evenings will have the opportunity to meet others throughout the year at SWAY organised events like bonfire nights, camping in Wales or Corf or even day-long expeditions to the mainland. 

Chair of Trustees Peter Johnson told Isle of Wight Radio:

“Youngsters can so often be isolated, face to face contact and negotiating is a really important skill… We work with youngsters in a consecutive linear way, we work with them over a length of time and get alongside them to build a rapport with them… we have seen various youngsters who might have otherwise made poor decisions, make better decisions and begin to fulfil some of their potential -we see in them, because of their commitment to us and our commitment to them… we have seen positive change not only with youngsters but with their families too…”

SWAY’s team currently consists of- Andy Dorning- project leader, Jenny Burke- family worker, and joining this year will be two boy gap year workers, working with people across the entire SWAY area. The team is also looking for a new trainee youth worker to join in September.

The charity currently operates from The Exchange, New Road, Brighstone.

The Exchange – Brighstone Parish Council
The Exchange – Brighstone Parish Council

The South Wight Area Youth Partnership was initially given a grant from the Isle of Wight Council, which stopped, now 50% of donations come from local sources, and via events like this year’s West West Wight Tennis Tournament which raised £2,800 and the Duck Race which raised £1,400.

Isle of Wight Radio’s Iona Stewart-Richardson has been speaking to the team.

You can find more on their facebook page here.