The Pimlico Foundation: Sporting outreach into the estates of Pimlico
The Pimlico Foundation is a Christian charity formed in January 2015. It aims is to create positive futures for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds living in Pimlico. Our desire is to provide positive communities in which young people can flourish on every level – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Created and supported by three local churches including St James the Less, St Michael’s, Chester Square and Westminster Chapel, and with advice and financial support from Scripture Union, the Foundation employed Mark Liburd in February 2016. Providing him with a blank page, he was tasked to develop how the Foundation could best connect with young people in the local area especially those young people on the five Pimlico estates.
Rebranding the outward youth face of foundation to make it more relevant for the young people, Outbreak was born. This reflected our desire to create an outbreak of hope and love in the community.
After months of liaising with the locals on what the young people in the local community needed and wanted, the same message was coming through, “We need a holiday club, as everything is too expensive around here for our children”. Outbreak’s first activity was to provide a two-week holiday club in the summer. Supported by volunteers from local churches, the club successfully attracted 26 children who were engaged in a Spirit-filled holiday club, with a range of activities including football, boxing, cooking, dance and much more. It saw people from all backgrounds including other faiths, signing up to a holiday club with Christian content. The parents were incredibly enthusiastic especially with the weekly charge of £30: this was affordable and really helped the single parents manage the cost whilst giving their children vital activities during the holidays.
After this initial success, we continued to try to connect with young people but the volume of work and safeguarding considerations hampered what we could achieve. To help solve this problem the Foundation took a risk and employed a second worker Ian Mullens. This enabled our work to really take off.
As trained youth workers, we were able to develop an outreach strategy to engage the children in the local estate by playing football and other games. Ian came up with a creative way to help engage more children from the local schools, after-school – hot chocolate!
We set up a hot drinks cart in the estate we gave out hot chocolate for free. At first, the children and parents were sceptical, however, as local children had already got to know us previously while playing sports on the estate we had built up some trust and that first week saw around 30 children engaged. From this point, these kids consistently turned up at the same time and place every week without fail, sun, rain or snow.
Two and half years later this small start has grown massively. Not only do the young people come but so do their parents: Every Thursday in the middle of an estate we witness over 120 people (sometimes up to 180 people including 150 children and young people). The parents drink hot chocolate, eat chat and laugh while their children make friends and play 4 Square, Volleyball, Badminton, Tennis, and Swing Ball. It is a sight to behold as this new community includes locals from all socio-economic backgrounds, faiths, ages and genders. It has regenerated a part of the estate that had been lost to the fear of criminal activity. The locals have reclaimed this space for themselves and their children.
Today, Outbreak still only has two full-time workers but we run seven projects in the Pimlico community: Hot Chocolate Outreach, Football Club, a schools mentoring program, Holiday Club, After School Club, and a Youth Club. We are also venturing into starting a community mentoring program that asks volunteers from the community to commit one hour a week, for a year, to a child in school or exclusion. Everyone needs someone.
A significant highlight this year was being invited by the local council to their awards ceremony for community organisations. At the end of an inspirational evening, The Pimlico Foundation was recognised with a ‘Highly Commended – Outstanding Organisation’ award. Not bad for an organisation that started with a simple Christ-centred vision, a blank piece of paper, one youth worker, some sports activities and two years of support and investment from three churches. Reaching out in faith and transforming our local community doesn’t have to be complicated.
The future is exciting and with a network of friends, partners and God’s blessings we pray we can do even more.
Mark Liburd is the Senior Youth Worker at The Pimlico Foundation based at St James The Less, Pimlico.
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