Youth workers at the Kenilworth Centre bolstered by Rotary grant

Youth workers Munjit Rai and Molly O'Herlihy speaking to youngsters
Youth workers Munjit Rai and Molly O'Herlihy speaking to youngsters

A grant of £2,500 has been given to the Kenilworth Centre by the Kenilworth Rotary Club, funding the services of the detached youth workers at the centre for a year.

The news comes after young people who use the centre have spoken up in support of the work the youth workers do in the town’s streets and parks.

I find my work with young people exciting and exhilarating.

Munjit Rai, detached youth worker

Several young people who have dealt with the centre’s youth workers were asked a variety of questions about how the workers have helped them.

A 17-year-old said he first became aware of the youth workers three years ago, and over that time they had give him great advice on the dangers of drugs, weapons and alcohol.

When asked about what would happen if the workers were not around, many young people said they would have no one to talk to about sensitive issues and would not receive good advice, with one youngster claiming there would be riots if the workers went away.

Munjit Rai, who has worked as a youth worker at the centre for two years, explained that building a rapport with youngsters over time was important in helping them solve their problems.

He said: “We’ve got a good relationship with young people - when they remember your name you can engage with them a lot better.

“It’s about treating young people on a level playing field.”

“I’m just here to make sure young people have a voice, and I find my work exciting and exhilarating.”

The detached workers speak to young people about a lot of issues, including sexual health, dealing with cyberbullying, and the dangers of illegal drugs.

A typical shift out on Kenilworth’s streets involves heading over to Castle Farm in Fishponds Road to speak to youngsters there, after which they move on to the skate park where the teenagers often have slightly different problems.

From there, the workers head onwards to Abbey Fields, another common spot where young people often congregate.

Mr Rai has dealt with a variety of issues over the years, from a girl who passed out after drinking a bottle of fake vodka to calming over 125 kids down after some climbed onto a roof in the Black Pad after they had finished their exams.

He added: “Confidentiality is very important - young people can come to us knowing that we can be trusted.”

John Whitehouse, chair of trustees at the centre, said: “The Rotary Club has had a good relationship with the centre from the beginning.

“Just expecting young people to come through the door is not how it works - you need to get people out there.

“Munj is just the right sort of individual to command respect from young people.”

Jane Poulter, a trustee of the centre, said: “The provision for supporting our young people has greatly reduced over the years with many of the council support services being cut.

“The centre’s team of trained youth workers provide a confidential, non-judgmental listening ear.

“It’s important that people are aware of the support that’s out there.”

Andy Norman, the centre’s manager, said: “It’s an essential service for the youth of Kenilworth.”