The Youth Café has now been open for approx. 5 years. Unfortunately the Youth Café’s funding from KCC stopped in November 2016. There are financial challenges to keeping the Youth Provision open. Grants from both Cllr Mrs Crabtree and Cllr Parry have assisted with revenue costs. The Round Table provided a grant which enabled the purchase of a new pool table (3 in 1 table) and table tennis equipment. Sevenoaks School donated funds to enable purchase of a new iPad.
On Tuesday evenings the youth café is open for children with special needs sponsored by the West Kent Housing. This evening not only provides them with somewhere safe and comfortable to go, but also provides them with the confidence in the venue to attend at other times and integrate with the other young people, which has proved to be immensely popular.
The House in the Basement Youth Café known as HitB is managed by Gail Grieves and supported by three casual staff and volunteers from Sevenoaks Youth Trust. One of the casual staff was a previous café member.
Open Mic Nights (OMN) recommenced on a monthly basis and were a great success, especially with food being provided by Wagamama at each event. This will continue during 2018. It is encouraging to see young performers gaining confidence at this event, many of whom then go on to perform at Live on the Vine or the Christmas Lights Switch On Event.
Hire income is important to the sustainability of the youth café. During 2017 the Breast Cancer Support Group opened using the youth café every Tuesday morning. The support group is funded by the Province of West Kent Freemason who also funded a mini refurbishment. We have purchased a new 3 in 1 games table, new sofas, chairs and computer chairs and the café looks much smarter for it. In general the young people have been quite respectful in the “no shoe” rule for the sofas. The Lewis Project also continue to hire the café Monday evenings and more recently We Teach Music are using the café on Thursday evenings to run a rock school in return for supporting our OMN’s.
HiTB has been involved with Live on the Vine hosting a stall selling refreshments. We also supported Pink Week this year holding a “Bra Pong” and “play your cards right” stall to raise awareness of HiTB whilst supporting the charity event. In August three young people assisted local artist Graham Upton in completing a street art mural on the side wall of HiTB, a competition was held for the final design and this was won by Felicity Pitchford who was assisted on the day by Ben Worden and Freya Logan.
In October HiTB held a Halloween party where Pumpkins were carved and apple bobbing took place some people came in fancy dress and a good time was had by all.
In December, Sevenoaks Town Council granted HiTB some monies to hold a Christmas party, this was held on the 23rd December with Prizes for games kindly. The theme was old fashioned party games and these included pass the parcel and the name game. Each person who attended received a small gift and enjoyed the free food that had been prepared. The Stag also donated some free Pantomime tickets and 16 young people enjoyed an afternoon at the theatre in early January.
The Neighbourhood scheme has continued. Also a new incentive with Tesco’s called food share has proved more successful and we regularly benefit from cakes and bread and occasionally fruit. The number of hot meals being served has doubled.