xl Club, Prince's Trust, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire
Prince's Trust XL clubs operate across the UK and, in the main, are team-based programmes of personal development for young people aged 14-16. To date UK-wide, xl has helped over 58,000 individuals with currently over 1000 clubs in about 590 schools and centres across the UK.
The club members are often facing difficulties at school, some running the risk of exclusion. They meet for at least three hours a week and, guided by an xl club adviser, members are encouraged to work together to achieve goals relating to their education, training and future lives. The informal activities are based on six main curriculum areas: personal, interpersonal and team skills, citizenship and community awareness, a community-based project, a residential activity, entrepreneurship and enterprise and preparation for work or training.
In Kilmarnock Academy, the school link adviser facilitates the xl group as part of ‘citizenship and community awareness' and has established a link with a sheltered complex run by Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association - Mill Court - comprising 29 flats. The Association provides and manages a range of specialist, affordable housing, mainly for frail older people.
Over a number of months the pupils visited the tenants and carried out a range of jobs and domestic tasks including shopping, emptying bins, changing beds, tidying up and general housework and, of course, sitting down and talking together over tea and biscuits. This gave them an opportunity to develop their skills in an unfamiliar environment. The xl pupils also made up and delivered Christmas meal parcels and later featured in a film about youth volunteering in East Ayrshire called ‘Capture Us'.
Both teenagers and residents derive immense benefits from the programme. The young people gain insights and understanding of people they might never meet in the normal run of things. The residents enjoy the young company and the help, and look forward to the visits as ‘a breath of fresh air'.
One resident said, ‘They always say young people are bad nowadays, but I say, thank you, thank you, well done, good on you!'
The trust and the links between the school and Mill Court have been strengthened and will be built on in the future, with increased contact and joint activity between residents and xl Club members.
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