PUBLISHED: 00:16 22 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:56 20 February 2013
Close House is, a youth project in Hereford, where staff and volunteers pride themselves on "being there" for young people, whatever their needs. Lynn Johnson, chair of trustees, explains how the charity is founded ...
It is tempting to identify one particular young person with a dramatic story involving Close House and it would be easy to do this many times over, but I think what really matters is our ability to build and sustain relationships with young people. We believe this is unique and we value it above all.
It doesnt matter who you are, what problems you have, how many other people have let you down or how long you need us, we will still welcome and support you. We have a track record of sticking with young people for seven years, through thick and thin. Many young people use our facilities for a short time, purely for enjoyment; others experience dramatic changes in their life experiences and attitudes. Still others spend time with us, grow in maturity, move away to college or university, come back to Hereford and return as supporters and volunteers.
The Close House drop-in centre in Hereford city is the hub of our activity. It is open from midday to 5pm on Mondays to Thursdays for young people aged 13 to 24 and on Saturday afternoons for 11-16s. We also hold a weekly group for young people with mental health difficulties and host a group for young people experiencing bereavement or terminal illness in the family. Weekly youth groups are also held in Whitecross, Aylestone and Tupsley for 11-16s.
Our formal aims are to help young people in Herefordshire especially, but not exclusively, through their leisure time activities so as to develop their physical, mental and spiritual capacities that they may grow to full, mature individuals and members of society.
We aim to break the cycle of negative experience and behaviour that some young people face, to help them find hope and aspiration, to equip them to attain their potential and to enable them to control the direction their own lives take.
We welcome all young people although in practice we find that we attract a high proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with chaotic home lives. Many of the young people using Close House are vulnerable, disadvantaged or socially excluded. We work with a large number of young people who experience homelessness, mental health issues, substance misuse, have minor criminal records, are not in education, training or employment or who have suffered abusive childhoods. Our staff and volunteers specialise in working with these young people. Through the relationships that develop, people become willing to make their needs known and the necessary support can be sought.
The benefits for individuals vary greatly. For some Close House provides a creative outlet for fears, anger or frustration through song-writing, art, music or talking and diverts destructive behaviour that could have a negative impact on the local community. For others it introduces them to new interests that lead on to training, education or job opportunities. Confidence building is an important effect too. Above all, the young people that come to Close House know that they will have fun and we will always be there for them.
We have a loyal bunch of supporters who are committed to making monthly donations, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. This gives us the vital foundation on which everything is built. We have also been successful in bidding for grants and trust funding to support us. While this will always form part of our total income, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, so we now have to focus on new ways to cover our costs. We are planning to establish a group of people, who will meet to enjoy regular social gatherings, generate ideas for raising money and then organise them and run them together.
2012 also sees the launch of a drive to increase the number of regular donors and, with this in mind, we would welcome opportunities to come to talk to clubs, societies and groups to tell them about the work of Close House.
Donations can be given by texting to 70070. Texting CLHS125 will donate 5, CLHS1210 will donate 10 etc. The full amount will be paid to Close House. Anyone who shops online can raise money for Close House at no cost to themselves by visiting