Inclusive youth club at Filwood

Left to right: Wecil Youth Lead Katie Hanchard-Goodwin and volunteer Reyan Arafat with Anastasia and Margarita Solovjova.

An inclusive youth club is now running weekly in Filwood – offering activities for both disabled and non-disabled young people.

Run by West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL) and funded by Children in Need – the club for 13 – 19s moved from Inns Court Community Centre in January and has just increased its hours.

Activities include board games and making classes as well as the chance to learn to cook and then eat together as a group. This is one of three groups in Bristol which aim to “promote socialising, confidence, self-esteem and the building of relationships between young people.”

On an April evening some members were busy playing Connect Four and drawing with parents and WECIL workers – while a table tennis game was in full swing.

WECIL Youth Lead Katie Hanchard-Goodwin explains: “It gives them the opportunity to socialise and move towards independence…

“A lot of the young people here are non-verbal so it gives their parents a break and it’s an opportunity to work on things like communication…

“We have had siblings that have attended and parents can and do stay – it is something the family can do together…”

Now with the lighter evenings Katie hopes the group will be also be able to play ball games on the central green in their first summer at the centre.

Katherine Summerhayes from Knowle West has been bringing her son Liam (16) who has autism and epilepsy for the past four months.

She says: “He likes mixing, playing different games and loves cooking. It’s a bit of a break for the whole family and Liam gets the independence mixing with other people. They’ve closed his other youth club, so I think more groups in the area would be a good thing…”

Margarita Solovjova who was attending with her 12-year-old daughter Anastaja also lives locally.

She says: “She started coming after Christmas and she likes cooking and eating with the group and singing – and enjoys being here.”

The Inclusive Youth Club runs every Thursday at Filwood Community Centre from 7-9pm. To join contact Matt Peal 07795 446317,or just turn up to register.