Charity really must start at home and with the seemingly constant and disturbing news relating to our younger generation’s struggles with the likes of mental health, addictions, gangs and bullying, it’s incredibly important for us, as a hub of the local Liss community, to help support a local charity that succeeds in supporting the young people within our local community.
An introduction to Crossover
Crossover is the trading name of Liss Youth Centre and is a charity that was set up in May 2006 by a team of Liss residents, working with the local Churches and the Parish Council. The Crossover was set up following the realisation that our young generation, with little to occupy them, was causing issues in the village, leading to an increase in youth crime. The Crossover team set out to make a change for the better and, 13 years on, they have made a huge impact.
Crossover is a youth centre, whose aim is to provide a safe environment for all our local, young people. From 9-19-year olds, or for those with additional needs, up to the age of 25, all are welcome. Sessions run throughout the week, free of charge, at the youth centre offering a range of crafts, cookery and learning/playing musical instruments. In addition to providing activities and a safe place, the team also deliver targeted work to resolve issues relative to the needs of those in the centre including alcohol awareness, information on substance misuse, healthy relationships, anger management, social media and sexual health. The youth centre is open throughout the year, with holiday sessions providing fun activities and free lunches, which have been identified as a need for low-income families.
In addition to supporting young people, this charity also provides vital support to parents in need of guidance and advice or who may have been referred by other agencies including local schools, GPs and social services. Through the monies it raises to keep this charity running, Crossover is fortunate to have an in-house counsellor to provide free counselling to young people, which is an invaluable asset enabling early intervention and support to young people who are on the CAMHS waiting list. Support is offered to all communities including LGBTQ+, ethnic minorities and refugees, young people with learning difficulties, young carers and young parents. By offering a non-judgemental, supportive approach, young people can visit the youth centre, feel safe and be themselves. The team have found that by offering stability and a consistent approach they have seen young people develop from being shy, unhappy and unsure to being overall more confident and happy with themselves and their place in the community.
Crossover employs four part-time members of staff, which is the charity’s biggest expense and has approximately 17 committed volunteers. As you can imagine, the youth centre is always in need of more volunteers as the sessions grow in popularity, which is a sign they’re doing something right! The charity takes pride in the continual training support given to all of its staff and volunteer bank to ensure they are well-equipped and confident in supporting the young people with the challenges that continue to present themselves. All staff, trustees and volunteers are DBS checked and attend both Safeguarding training and Prevent training, which are vital to all who work at Crossover.
The youth centre, through the support it receives, is able to offer a range of experiences including ice skating and kayaking, which many may not have the opportunity otherwise. They arrange day trips to take part in team-building activities to build their skills in communicating and teamwork. They have even established a weekly tennis class in the local recreation ground, attended by those as young as 6 and up to the age of 19… siblings and families are encouraged to join in and enjoy this active sport. Through nurturing and education, these young adults are really showing signs of newfound strengths, confidence and maturity.
How does this vital charity raise its funds?
Crossover is a registered charity and exists purely on grants and donations to maintain the running all of these services effectively and free to the young people who attend. During recent years, funds have been gratefully received from the National Council of Social Concern, Hampshire County Council, East Hants District Council, Liss Parish Council, Radian, Round Table, Police and Crime Commissioner, Geoff Herrington Foundation, The George Street Trust, Hines Trust, the Masons, local churches and many local businesses and villagers of Liss Village and this support has enabled the team to continue trading for 13 years and counting. The need for funding though is a constant challenge, especially when the government are having to stringently cut grants to make their budgets work.
Last year (2018), the office of The Police and Crime Commissioner provided a grant of £5,000 as a 50% contribution towards taking on what is known as “detached work”, the team are delighted that this has been replicated for another year to help support them throughout 2019/20. Detached work allows the charity to send two qualified youth workers into the local village to meet with young people at the places where they congregate in the evenings. Crossover understands about “county lines” and are very aware that Liss Village, with the mainline station and the A3 trunk road from London, becoming a potential target for urban drug dealers. It is incredibly important to meet with young people of the village, even if they do not attend Crossover, to form relationships and trust, to assist them in making good life choices. The charity is proud to be supporting the police in this project and the positive results are evident.
Although it is a continuing challenge for the Trustees to run Crossover, the rewards of seeing young people mature and prosper are amazing. In 2017, the charity’s success was recognised when they won the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Village of the Year ‘Inspiring Places’ Award for their work in supporting local young people and the positive effects it has had on the local community.