Prestwood Youth & Community Action Group (PYCAG), is a voluntary organisation and registered Charity (No 1068031) and a member of Action4Youth.
PYCAG was formed in 1996 in response to young people saying there was no-where for them to go in Prestwood.
A steering group of young people and adults from the community was formed to canvass for a Youth Centre. Grants from The National Lottery and Buckinghamshire County, Chiltern District and Great Missenden Parish Councils enabled PYCAG to acquire a small prefabricated building which was opened on 18 July 1997.
1997 – 2011
Buckinghamshire County Council’s Youth Service provided qualified youth workers to run 2 evenings a week for young people aged 13 –19 years. This complemented the provision provided by the Scouts, Guides and Prestwood Colts FC.
The Steering group became the Management Committee, responsible for the maintenance and running of the Centre.
Wave upon wave of financial cutbacks made it difficult for the County Council to maintain staffing levels and, as a consequence, the Centre was closed for long periods of time and became the focus for graffiti, vandalism and break-ins.
In 2010, the County Council announced that it was withdrawing from universal provision of Youth Service Opportunities. This affected 29 communities, including Prestwood.
In 2011 the Management Committee took up the challenge of providing youth opportunities and activities in addition to managing and maintaining the Centre as a valuable community resource.
2011 – 2014
In taking up the challenge, the Management Committee resolved to broaden the range of young people by working with 8 -16 year olds. Starting with “The Gathering” (8 -11 year olds), this was quickly followed by an Intermediate Group for 11 -13 year age group. In January 2014 a pilot project was launched to cater for the needs of 13 -16 year olds. Signs are that this will flourish into a permanent element of PYCAG’s provision for young people. Other projects on the way have included a diversion project for those young adults left by the County’s withdrawal from universal youth work provision and a “Grow our own Leaders” scheme in which members aged 13+ were given basic training and support as they took on Junior Leader roles within our younger clubs.
Allied to this have been two other elements: staffing and funding. We have been fortunate to recruit 8 voluntary youth workers from the Prestwood community and a further 3 from neighbouring areas. Four of these volunteers are young people who, having come-up through the membership, are keen to give something back to PYCAG.
Funding is a constant headache. In 2011 Buckinghamshire County Council awarded PYCAG a £9,000 transition grant, half of which was used hiring Street Dreams to continue the work with a group of 16+ year olds that had been started by the County’s Youth Service before their withdrawal.
“The [PYCAG / Street Dreams] Project has successfully reached a group of hard to reach young people who were engaging in ASB within the local community and would not engage with the Police or any other youth organisation….[this project] helped to build confidence within the group and encourage them to look at their behaviour and address their issues (substance abuse, petty crime and difficulty in securing employment.)” Thames Valley Police
Subsequently, the Management Committee has raised £27,000 to fund its work with young people. Funders have included Chiltern District & Great Missenden Parish Councils; The Missenden Local Area Forum, Paradigm Housing Community Engagement Fund; Buckinghamshire Youth Bank; St Peter and St Paul’s Church; GLL; Great Missenden Parish Revite Group (GMPRG); Prestwood Events Group (PEG) & Prestwood 10K Run.
However, funding is getting increasingly difficult to obtain, particularly for the maintenance of the Centre and its running costs.
The Centre catered for young people two nights a week – Mondays and Thursdays – with one-off events during school holiday periods (sports days, visits by the Outdoor Education Team’s mobile climbing wall and an August holiday programme). During 2013 we attracted 39 regular members and it is anticipated that this will increase with the addition of our Monday night club.
We are also the home for two Adult Learning Art Groups, an Over 50’s Activities Group and a Mother & Baby Group.
“I firmly believe each young person has a positive role to play within the local community. PYCAG encourages the facilitation of this through its club sessions with a variety of activities.” Christine Davy
PYCAG opened a drop-in Youth cafe facility for 11-16 year olds on a Friday evening, combining the Monday Club attendees with the Thursday Club catering for 7-11 year olds. The Friday evening drop-in Youth Cafe changed to a Monday evening 7-9pm in 2015-2016 led by Dave Rollins of AVY4C and latterly, Youth Cafe.
Unfortunately, due to trained-up volunteers moving on and others not coming forward, the Thursday Club was unable to open for the January 2017 term. The Monday Youth Cafe, however, continues to prosper under the direction of Dave Rollins and Colin Veysey with additional female helpers.
From 1 April 2017, the maintenance and running of the Prestwood Youth & Community Centre has been taken over by Great Missenden Parish Council, the owners of both the building and the land, and enquiries for hire of the venue should be made with GMPC on 01494 864792. The building has been renamed Prestwood Community Centre.
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