Growing up with Urban Hope

15 October 2014

Joel writes…

That’s me aged about five or six on the green at the Almorah Road Community Centre where Ben first started bringing together children and young people to play football and hang out together. So I've been coming to Urban Hope since before it was called Urban Hope, and now I'm doing a placement here as a student youth worker.

As a child, it gave me an opportunity to get out of the house, meet other young kids from the area, develop my love of football, and spend time with people I’d never have known otherwise. It was totally different – and a lot more fun than what was on offer at home. My standout memory is a residential I went on when I was 16. I crawled through cold, wet mud, did zip lining, tight rope walking and much more. It was a completely new experience and got me enjoying the outdoors.

Being part of Urban Hope enabled me to find a voice that was often disregarded and oppressed, especially at home. It gave me a family in a place that felt like a home away from home – somewhere I could just be.

I don’t feel like I ever left Urban Hope; it’s in my heart no matter where I go or what I do. But being a youth worker here now makes me really happy – it is such a massive part of the community. I’m enjoying developing relationships with young people I’ve never spoken to, and learning about social issues that I was unaware of but that are happening on the streets where I live.

I’m looking forward to being a role model to young people who are growing up in the same area as I have and giving them the opportunities that I was offered here. I’d like to be able to pass my passion for sport onto them so they can use it to help them through some of issues they face. I want them to know that there is hope no matter what their social situation is, and that good things come with hard work and determination.

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