Crowthorne HopeZone has been operating out of the Baptist Church on the High Street since October 2009. It originated from the HOPE 08 National Initiative and following consultation with Thames Valley Police it became clear to those involved that there was a lack of provision for young people aged 10-18 in the village of Crowthorne. These youngsters were simply looking for somewhere to meet and out of this simple need came the vision for the HopeZone Project - that we, as a practical demonstration of God's love for the young people of our community, provide a suitable space for them to meet, in warmth, safety and security.
Crowthorne HopeZone is an independent charity and all the volunteers who enable it to run are members of churches of ‘Churches Together in Crowthorne'.
The main focus of activity for HopeZone is currently a Wednesday afternoon drop-in from 3-6 pm for secondary school children, and the initiative has been successful. There are some optional activities, such as craft or cooking, organised during the afternoon but the young people can just use it as a time to chat with their friends, do homework, watch DVDs, play games etc. We also provide a small tuck shop.
The sessions are open to all young people in our community, regardless of faith, creed or race. We do not intend to impose our views on anyone who comes in although, if asked why we do what we do, we are more than happy to explain the faith basis behind what we do. We have the support of a number of local schools and, at their invitation, our Hope Zone Manager is currently working with Year 6 pupils during the lunchtime period, providing activities and discussion, all led by the pupils in the playground environment.
Following on from the success of the current set-up, we have extended our activity to Year 6 pupils on Monday afternoons from 3.30 pm until 5.00 pm, also at the Baptist Church, and this session is called "Zone 6". We will offer a different activity each week, for example, craft, cooking, DVD, games, etc. Alternatively, the young people can use it as a time to chat with their friends. We also provide a tuck shop with "penny" sweets and drinks.
Initial responses from parents and children has been extremely encouraging, with up to 25 pupils from Crowthorne CofE, Oaklands, Wildmoor Heath and Hatch Ride attending. Connections are being made with families as parents are welcome to stay and get involved in games or simply chat to staff.
Please continue to pray for the staff and young people involved in both Hope Zone and Zone 6; and, for St John’s, please contact Anna Pearce if you would like to find out more, or even get involved!
HopeZone Youth Worker