Set up in 2008 with the aim of combating a high level of anti-social behaviour in the Harefield area of Southampton, Kickz plays a vital role in the local community. By providing positive activities for disengaged youth, the club aims to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour, improve the relationship between young people and the police, and create routes towards education and employment. Supported by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation, Kickz provides young people with invaluable skills, experience, opportunities and support to make good choices and empower themselves in the future. The club is supported by a passionate and enthusiastic team committed to providing a platform for disadvantaged young people in the area, and it's clear that Kickz has had a lasting positive impact on youth in the Harefield area.
Kickz works to transform the lives of young people on many different levels. Sessions are divided into football coaching and dance workshops and conclude with an educational workshop, ranging from CV writing to preventing knife crime. Kickz also offers boxing, music, with a fashion, hair and beauty and free running to come. The club also offers 1:1 pastoral sessions, for example on family breakdown and self esteem issues.
There is a strong relationship of mutual respect between coaches and participants, which is significantly helping to improve the negative image of authority amongst young people in the area. An overarching aim is to give youth in the area more positive labels. Making young people aware that the coaches have an invested interest in their potential is an important part of that. Instead of succumbing to negative perceptions of youth, Kickz works with the ethos that ‘it is never too late to be what you might have been’. A youth forum consisting of 12 young members of Kickz was recently set up, that allows young people to take a leading role in providing feedback and ideas for the sessions, and also a chance to air any issues, ensuring that the club continues to engage with the direct needs of young people.
One of the most important parts of Kickz is the social aspect. The club is extremely popular with young people, averaging 60-70 people a session, and the opportunity to socialise in a positive environment, through sport and other constructive activities helps young people to avoid anti-social behaviour. As Derek, a 17 year old participant states: ‘it helps to keep people off the streets’. Kickz is also fulfilling an important role in breaking down the territorial boundaries that exist between different parts of the city.
Through all of the above, the club is clearly helping to transform the lives of young people in the area. Several of the participant’s personal stories reflect this. Andy Powell,18, who has been attending Kickz since 2008 has struggled with controlling his temper and had exhibited anti social behaviour in the past. Andy has made significant progress in his confidence and behaviour and is now a committed Kickz Ambassador. In Andy’s own words, the club has provided him with ‘A lot of opportunities for education’ and he would recommend it to his friends as ‘A fun and friendly place to come, which keeps you off the streets and out of trouble’. Sammy, also 18, has been attending dance workshops for three years and is now an advocate for the programme in Harefield. The opportunities that Kickz have provided, have helped her develop the self confidence to pursue avenues for her future that she admits she ‘would never have thought of before I came to Kickz’. Sammy also expressed her ambition to continue her involvement with Kickz as a dance teacher in the future.
Youth Inclusion Officer Dave Caicedo notes that when the children reach 19 and become too old to attend there is a gap in service provision, and Kickz would like to expand to fill this void. Those involved with Kickz have achieved a lot through the sessions. Some of the participants are now completing BTECs or apprenticeship work and others have found employment or are thinking of attending university. Kickz has provided them with invaluable skills, experience, opportunities and support to make good choices and empower themselves in the future. The club is supported by a passionate and enthusiastic team committed to providing a platform for disadvantaged young people in the area and it is clear that Kickz has had a lasting positive impact on youth in the Harefield area.
To find out more about Kickz and other projects run by the Saints Foundation click here.