18 Nov 2013

Macaroni Woods

For those of you who read this regularly you will know I work for a charity called XLP and this weekend I took a group of young people from one of the estates I work on away. 

We went to a place called Macaroni Woods in Gloucestershire and had a winner of a time. It's a residential home in the middle of woodland which is pretty epic. The house has a number of bedrooms as well as a games room, huge living room and great kitchen where we let the kids show us their culinary skills. 

So the whole aim of the weekend was to give these kids a chance to get out of London and to try something new. We took 10 young people from Deptford. Most of them hadn't been out of London in the last year, 2 hadn't ever been outside of London. 1 hadn't ever learnt to ride a bike, 5 had never been ice-skating, 8 and never seen a live pig and 10 had never seen a live turkey. So it was a weekend of new experiences. 

(Emily from my team holding a chick)
We spent a lot of time outside enjoying the woodland, cycling around on bikes that the place had and around a campfire.  

What struck me most about the weekend was having conversations with the kids and understanding a bit more about what life is like growing up on the estate. I think I have totally taken for granted that I grew up in privilege. 

One guy I was talking to told me that he knew his friends were bad influences on him and could get him into trouble, but what was he going to do. He sees them every day on his estate - if he doesn't talk to them he'll get beaten up or worse. He told me that the best he could do was to stay on the edge and not get involved in any of the more serious stuff. 

It was an eye opener for me. So much of the time we have simplistic answers - If you have bad friends, ditch them and make new ones. Some people aren't that lucky. That isn't an option for them. However, in the midst of huge challenges that guy is at college studying hard with a career in mind. There is hope. 

Macaroni Woods was an adventure and I'm returning in March with another group of kids so I'll let you know how that goes too. 

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