Youth Work Week, an annual celebration of Youth Work in the UK and which has received significant funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, aims to raise awareness of the broad range of activities and services available to young people.
Jane Hutt attended the ‘Educate a Child, Liberate a Nation’ project’s launch at Butetown Youth Pavilion, and spent time talking with the staff and young people who will spend the next year raising money to pay for vital improvements to a school in West Africa.
The project, called Coal Coast to Gold Coast, is being coordinated by community education officer Steve Khaireh, who works at the centre full time and has worked with young people for 22 years.
Under Steve’s guidance, the Butetown youngsters will work The Coal Coast to The Gold Coast for three years. The project aims to renovate six classroom buildings, a toilet, store room and office in a run down school in Sierra Leone.
The money for the renovations will be raised through a variety of fundraising activities over the next few months, including a sponsored football tournament, bag packing weekend at local supermarkets, cooking workshop and a Christmas quiz.
At the end of the year, a group of young people from the centre will visit the school based in Makeni Bombali in the northern province of Sierra Leone with Steve and help with the renovations.
Seventy per cent of Sierra Leone’s population live in poverty stricken conditions, lacking basic, everyday needs such as food, money, shelter, health facilities, safe drinking and schools.
The Coal Coast to Gold Coast project was adopted by Butetown Youth Pavilion, situated in one of the most deprived areas in south Wales, because many of the attendees’ grandparents and great grandparents were born in Sierra Leone and came to Wales to find work when coal mining was a booming industry.
Steve, who is also involved in many other youth activities in Cardiff, including football teams and a teenage health club, said:
Since we started discussing Coal Coast to Gold Coast I have been impressed with the young people’s enthusiasm and commitment. Butetown itself is one of the most deprived wards in Cardiff.
The project has given the young people a focus and has made them appreciate just how lucky they are in comparison. And the fact that they are going to get the chance to visit Freetown at the end of the project has really given them a goal to work towards.
Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Jane Hutt, visited the pavilion at the start of Youth Work Week to lend her support to the project.
The Minister said:
I think the Butetown Youth Pavilion’s involvement in Coal Coast to Gold Coast is wonderful and I am fully supportive.
“There are over 20,000 youth workers in Wales and the work people like Steve do is invaluable. The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to ensuring the development of youth workers continues as the work they do in their local communities is vitally important.
4 November 2008