A growing club (part II)

Nylesh supervising football at Wanstead Youth ClubNylesh supervising football at Wanstead Youth Club

In the second of a series of articles charting the development of Wanstead Youth Club, club volunteer Nylesh Vaghela explains how and why he got involved with the project.

I am a volunteer youth worker, and have over 30 years of experience running the Frenford Badminton Club and helping with the running of their youth club, too. Through doing this, I have only ever worked with young people who do not have additional needs or disabilities.

My involvement with Wanstead Youth Club came about following a winter skills trip to Scotland with the Essex Boys and Girls Clubs (EBGC) in February 2017, when Martin Solder (county director of EBGC) asked if I would be interested in helping out with a new project that involved setting up a new inclusive youth club; a club where children with additional needs and disabilities can go and have their own space to develop and make new friends and not just with children who may have similar needs to them, but one that encourages social mixing of all young people which allows them to join in, in all that the club offers.

What a great idea, was my initial thought, a place for young people to mix in a safe environment whilst also developing myself as a youth worker, working with a wider range of young people.

I thought it would also be a great opportunity to get my daughter, Puja, who has learning difficulties, involved in the project and also involve my wife, Rita, who is a special educational needs assistant at our local primary school. She would be able to apply her skills and knowledge as well, adding to the youth club's offering.

What I have witnessed over at Wanstead Youth Club is that although at first the children were very reserved and shy, they have really learnt from each other and have now become friends. They are all different but actually enjoy being part of a group that allows them to play fun games and sports and take part in various activities, such as word searches, bracelet making and art. It's amazing to see all the young people learning from each other and integrating into the youth club's activities. I have seen their confidence grow. They now engage in conversations and share their jokes, smiling and enjoying their time at the club.

I can see that this project, with the help from EBGC, is an excellent move forwards to not just giving the children a safe environment to get involved in various sports and activities, but to get everyone involved, whilst helping them gain knowledge around integration and each other's abilities.

My family and I enjoy volunteering with the club and hope it will continue to serve the young people for years to come.

Wanstead Youth Club is open to 10- to 25-year-olds and runs every Thursday from 6pm to 8pm at Wanstead Youth Centre, 144 Elmcroft Avenue. For more information, call 01245 264 783 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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