Parents and community members team up in England to help children
A youth club in Leeds, England has given dozens of children from an underserved community a place to belong – and the club is thriving thanks to JustServe.
JustServe.org is a platform where non-profit, community, faith-based, and government organizations can post listings and projects. Volunteers sign up for these opportunities based on their location.
The Hawksworth Community Youth Club began four years ago when Robert and Sam Esterine saw that children in their neighborhood needed a safe place to participate in activities and be with their peers.
“We found that many young people [and] families suffered from neglect – food neglect – and had nowhere to go,” Robert Esterine said in an article on ChurchofJesusChrist.org for the 11th anniversary of JustServe.
The couple posted their needs for the club on JustServe and connected with members of a local Latter-day Saint congregation. Sam Esterine said they have known nothing but love, support and kindness since then.
Church members offered their church as a meeting place for the youth club. But Robert Esterine said at first some parents and children were reluctant to go into a church building.
Leeds, England Stake President James M. Whitehead said some church members were also not sure the experiment would work.
But the Esterines were convinced that the youth club could help the children and they rallied the parents of the community.
“We went out and campaigned in the community and said, ‘We are welcome, you are welcome. We are all brothers and sisters. Let’s all work together. Come, try before you buy! “said Sam Esterine.
Since then, all the children have gone to youth club meetings and the news has spread to other young people. Some 160 children attend each week and the waiting list is growing.
The parents are delighted.
“They are happy to see that the children are settled, they communicate better, less frustrated. They know their children are safe. They are at no risk in the community of being bullied or falling prey to drug dealers and people in the community who would use them for illegal acts,” said Sam Esterine.
Children learn good manners, morals and respect. Older children run a buddy system to help new and younger children. JustServe volunteers coordinate learning activities and games. Community members and parents donate healthy snacks.
Bernard Clarke, First Councilor of the Bishopric of Leeds 1st Ward, sees the impact the partnership is having in his area.
“It’s not about the kids anymore. The Leeds community program is also about parents – they get involved,” he said.