Hitting the ground running
05 December 2018 | North West England
The community youth club that helps keep kids of the street.
It is an inspirational example of when people help people, everyone benefits. Majid Dar is the co-founder of Community on Solid Ground - a youth club put together by a group of volunteers to get kids off the streets. He helped found the organisation almost 10 years ago to empower a positive approach to young people in the area.
A decade on, Majid, the operations director of CSG, has helped do so much more than that.
“The area where we are, in Whalley Range, South Manchester, is quite challenged,” he says. “There aren’t many opportunities for employment, and often kids find themselves falling into the wrong crowd or on the wrong path. We wanted a way of engaging with young people.”
So back in 2009, Majid and a few others, volunteered and set up a youth club in a local church hall, between 6pm and 10pm on a Saturday night.
“It was a pool table, snacks and things,” says Majid. “But it offered the youngsters a safe place to be on a Saturday night, instead of hanging about the streets, and possibly getting into trouble.”
Fast forward 10 years, and the organisation has grown to having 450 young people attend one of its many programmes or youth clubs. Now, Majid and a couple of others have a paid role, but it’s still mainly run by volunteers.
“We’ve expanded, have various football projects, still have the youth clubs,” says father of three, Majid. “We have two age groups, 6-12 and 13-19. Kids from other wards also come to us, and it shows the youngsters that there’s no reason to think there has to be conflict. Too often, there’s anti-social behaviour, gang related crime, rivalry… we open our doors to everyone, and those who come see that.”
Majid, 43, says the children will often talk to them about issues they might be having too.
“We offer mentoring projects and at each session, we speak to two or three in an impact assessment, about school, home life, behaviour, anything, and then after they’ve been with us a three to six months, we chat again to see if things have improved,” he says. “We can help with writing CVs and some even come back and volunteer for us, which is giving them life experiences. We just wanted to give something back to the community, and let the youngsters see that there is hope.”