Swanage teenagers get new youth club and gym sessions

New opportunities for young people in Swanage in Dorset are being offered, after it was felt that the community could do more for teenagers.

A new youth club for 14 to 18 year olds based at the Swanage Town and Herston football club in Day’s Park is to start on Sunday 21st April 2024, while gym sessions for school year 8s to 16 year olds at Swanage Bay View holiday park have already been launched.

Swanage football club

Swanage Town and Herston FC will be the base for the new youth club

Positively contribute to wellbeing

The catalyst for these ideas was a community meeting in June 2023 about policing, crime, and anti-social behaviour in Swanage.

While only a very small minority of young people cause trouble in Swanage, it was discussed that more could be done to actively engage all teenagers and positively contribute to their wellbeing.

It was realised that while young people who are interested in organised sport or drama and dancing are well catered for, there was a gap in the provision for those who just wanted to meet up and socialise on a casual basis.

Now the plans have come to fruition with the football club offering its clubhouse as a meeting place for the new youth group.

Supported by a grant from Dorset Council and the Purbeck youth team, a pool table, games console and a table football have been purchased to spruce up the premises and provide things to do.

Swanage youth club at football club

A brand new pool table was paid for by a grant from Dorset Council

Berno Vierbergen at Swanage Football Club

Youth worker Berno Vierbergen, who is also part of The Wave Youth team in Swanage, tries his hand at table football

“Fun and social”

Youth worker Berno Vierbergen, who has set the scheme up said:

“The aim is to provide a great place to spend time with friends. There’s games to play, soft drinks and a tuck shop available, and although there isn’t a football focus to the club, we do have the 4G pitch to use if we wish.

“When I came along to the football club last summer to help Jon Gregory – the club’s director of youth – with the youth camps, I realised there’s a real social element to the club, which helps the teams to bond.

“I also found out that while the younger age football teams are doing really well, there’s no youth team above the under 15s team, so there’s a big gap between the youth squads and the adult teams.

“What we’re trying to do now is to combine the club’s ability to make things fun and social, while also providing a youth group for the 14 to 18 year olds. It’s a tough age group to please but the football clubhouse is a good place to be – very relaxed and easy to get to.”

Swanage football club

A new games console is being purchased to go with the big screen

Nick Spetch at Swanage youth club at football club

Nick Spetch from Swanage Town and Herston football club is backing the new youth club, as well as driving the redevelopment of the club’s sports hall

“Helping to create a pathway”

There are DBS checked volunteers who will oversee the youth group and it will meet every Sunday afternoon from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Young people can just turn up but they will have to get a parent or guardian to sign a consent form.

Nick Spetch from Swanage Town and Herston football club added:

“The club is part of the Swanage community and we want to do all we can to help provide facilities to youngsters.

“By offering the clubhouse as a venue for the youth club, we hope we are helping to create a pathway from the youth sides through to the adult teams.

“You don’t have to play football, just come along and enjoy the social side of the club.”

Swanage Bay View gym
Su Evans

Swanage Bay View gym is usually only available to over 16s

Youth Gym for teenagers

The second new opportunity is at Swanage Bay View holiday park, where sessions in the gym are being offered to young people from school year 8, which is 12 to 13 years, up to 16 year olds. This is also being backed by a Dorset Council grant.

Usually, like most places, you have to be 16 to access the purpose built gym and use the equipment but now there’s space in the timetable for younger people to come along.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are two youth gym sessions, the first from 4 pm to 5 pm and the second from 5 pm to 6 pm on both days. Teenagers are welcome to do one session or two. Each session costs £3.

Swanage Bay View gym
Su Evans

The youth gym sessions are overseen by fully qualified and DBS checked staff

“Space to unwind, free from phones”

Swanage resident Su Evans is a personal trainer and often runs classes at the holiday park, so proposed the idea to the team. She said:

“While I’m a personal trainer, I’m also a youth worker at the Swanage Youth Club based at Herston village hall which caters for children from school year 6 to school year 10, so this is me combining my two interests.

“Fortunately Swanage Bay View was keen to run with the idea and it has taken off from there. It’s mainly term time but we’ve run a few sessions over the Easter holidays by popular demand.

“The idea is to come along and try out the equipment including the machines and the boxing bag. We’ll show you how to get the best out of the equipment if you want some advice but if you want to spend the whole session on a cycle machine, that’s fine too.

“Basically it’s a space to unwind, free from phones. Doing exercise makes you feel better – giving you a healthy body and healthy mind.

“Hopefully by providing these positive lifestyle skills to young people, we are giving them good habits that they’ll continue into the future.”

Police meeting in Swanage

The community meeting in June 2023 about policing, crime and anti social behaviour in Swanage

“This is good news”

The community meeting in June 2023 held at the Swanage Methodist Church was attended by the Dorset police and crime commissioner David Sidwick, local police inspector Ged Want and Swanage councillors, as well as hundreds of local residents who voiced their concern over the perceived increase in crime.

It was organised by local residents Linda Welsh and David Hollister. Linda, pleased that new provision for young people was now being offered as a direct consequence of the meeting, said:

“This is good news and I’m fully supportive of the new ideas. It’s excellent and just the type of thing that should be provided for older children. I wish them every success!”

Further information

  • Youth Club at Swanage Town and Herston FC, Day’s Park is on Sunday afternoons 3 pm to 5 pm starting from Sunday 21st April 2024. To find out more contact Berno Vierbergen via email youthministerswanage@gmail.com or just turn up on a Sunday, however a parent or guardian will need to sign a consent form
  • Youth Gym at Swanage Bay View, Panorama Road, is on Tuesdays 4 pm to 5 pm and 5 pm to 6 pm and Thursdays 4 pm to 5 pm and 5 pm to 6 pm, mainly during term time. Each session is £3 and there’s no need to book but a registration form must be completed by a parent or guardian. Next session is Tuesday 16th April 2024

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