New wellness space triples numbers of girls visiting Derby Youth Centre

Published on Wednesday, 9 March 2022 at 2:34:29 PM

Derby youth worker Bekah spends her afternoons refereeing basketball games, fetching ping pong balls gone awry and watching heated battles on video games.  


Just before Christmas, it occurred to her and fellow youth worker Zoe, that most of the activities on offer at the centre were very boy-oriented; sports, video games or competitions of some sort.  


“All our kids like sports and sports are an easy bet, particularly to burn off some energy. But the boys have big personalities and they take up so much space and we were constantly hearing from the girls ‘they won’t let us play, or they won’t give us a turn on the game.” 


Bekah and Zoe realised that the Derby girls needed their own space to hang-out. Clearing out a large, over-crowded room that had previously been used for storage, the youth workers installed a large TV, some comfy couches, art supplies, fairy lights and carpeting. Then, they asked the girls how they wanted to use it. 


“The girls said they wanted an inclusive space where girls of all ages were welcome – but no boys allowed!” Bekah laughs. 


“We asked what they wanted to do and it was very nails, skincare, haircare and make up – a lot of grooming basically.” 


Bekah says the girls like the “bonding” aspect of performing grooming rituals together and relish quiet afternoons of conversation and self-care.  


Because the room is so kitted out with supplies, a female youth worker is always present, and Bekah says this has allowed them to build relationships with the girls in a relaxed, informal manner.  


Sanitary supplies are also on hand, and various agencies are occasionally invited in to talk to the young women, including the smoking cessation team and female youth liaisons from Derby police. 

Since the space started operating before Christmas, the youth team estimate the number of girls attending afternoon programmes at the centre has tripled. 


“The girls have really come together and you see them hanging out and being quite a tight team,” says Bekah. 


“We’ve been getting more girls coming regularly, they’re very engaged and even protective of this space.” 


Next on the agenda is bringing in professional hair and make-up experts to give the girls lessons on how to use the products they so enjoy playing around with, as well as some tie-dye sessions. 


“Our goal is to make these girls feel confident in themselves and proud of who they are,” says Bekah.


“And I think having a dedicated space of their own is making a huge difference towards achieving that goal.” 


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