Based within a small fishing port in the town of Brixham, Devon, Y.E.S (Youth Enquiry Service) Brixham is grounded in a beautiful location which struggles because of its geographical position and areas of deprivation. There is a local need for creative initiatives to help residents to thrive, especially young people facing unemployment and insufficient affordable accommodation.
Luckily since 1996, Y.E.S Brixham, has been striving to address these issues through information, support, volunteering opportunities and activities which empower young people to feel a valued member of their local community. The aim is that young people will build up transferable skills which they can take into education, training and employment. There is also a host of activities and services available which improve individual wellbeing and community cohesion including: gardening on the community allotment, music workshops, yoga workshops, shower and clothes washing facilities, chill out spaces, and a café to meet friends, a charity shop and a vintage furniture shop owned by Y.E.S. to work or volunteer in.
The staff at Y.E.S. have created an environment which is welcoming to all. When someone new enters the centre, we offer them a cup of tea and have a chat about their hobbies. We don’t ask for paperwork or ask them what their problem is, but instead focus on finding out what interests can motivate the person to reconnect with others and grow their confidence.”
Aware of the plight of many young people, who through no fault of their own, found themselves homeless in Brixham and struggling to save up a deposit to rent somewhere, Y.E.S have concentrated efforts on meeting the local need for affordable homes by turning two derelict buildings in Brixham into six affordable flats for young people, with more to come after the redevelopment of the Threshers site.
How did they do it?
Y.E.S Brixham started out in a garage behind Brixham’s old Post Office 20 years ago, as an advice, guidance and counselling service for young people, Y.E.S worked closely with the statutory Youth Services until 2011, when support was withdrawn. Since then staff and trustees have worked to transform it into a sustainable community business. All of the trustees and staff at Y.E.S are local people, and all of the programmes and activities are also led by local people. Many of the trustees and staff started out as young volunteers.
Making a difference to real people
Turning someone’s life around doesn’t happen overnight, and that’s why Y.E.S dedicate themselves to helping individuals in the long haul. In some cases, YES have supported clients for 11 years, from a point of youth offending to a happy and positive outcome for each individual, helping young people secure jobs, homes, friends and family. Below is a testimonial which shows the caring nature of YES:
“There’s no doubt that Y.E.S has saved lives throughout its existence, whether through its housing scheme or by giving a shoulder to cry on. For me it’s always been something more than physical help and support. I’ve always known that it’s a safe place. A place I can go to and feel welcome any time of the day or year, and somewhere I can help people as well as be helped. It’s a fantastic platform for the sharing of skills, knowledge and experience – and there’s no place I’d rather sit down for tea and a chat when things are getting a bit tough at home or at school/work…Y.E.S has been one of the very few constants in my short life – a constant that has meant I always have somewhere to go. A place that celebrates the differences in people, not the similarities. A place that makes everyone feel special, and feeds on love and compassion, rather than money and greed”
– Harry, user of YES Brixham