The Young Future of Croydon

By - Tuesday 10th December, 2013

Chris Gaisie reports on the Reachin’ Higher awards, which took place last Thursday

It’s not often you’ll see people dressed up, enjoying a swanky three-course meal in a Hilton Hotel, all in honour of Croydon’s “youth”. On Thursday 5th December that’s exactly what happened – young people, parents, volunteers and charity partners all gathered together at Reachin’ Higher’s first ever Young People’s Awards. ‘KG tha Comedian’ hosted the charity’s evening of entertainment, inspiring stories and most importantly, young achievers. It’s no secret that the media often paint a fairly negative picture of teenagers, but last week saw them being celebrated. So what sets apart these particular teens?

If you were to rewind back ten or so years, what you’d find is a small, rather unassuming youth group, meeting together in the living room of founders Mark and Sherise Hobbs. What they probably didn’t know then, is that their living room would soon become far too small for the influx of young people who would find a place to be heard alongside their peers. Fast forward back to present day and Reachin’ Higher has become a multi-faceted youth charity, working alongside partners such as Tearfund, Kick London and The Rank Foundation just to name a few. All of these were present at the awards evening. The occasion was a chance for everyone to see just how far a young person can go when they’ve been invested in.

19 year old Kathryn, winner of the Futures Award, is one such person who has consistently been involved in Reachin’ Higher’s creative arts workshops. Not stopping there, the attendees were told of her eagerness to get involved in leadership roles – particularly during the charity’s summer scheme in 2013. Through Reachin’ Higher, she has also been recognised by the Jack Petchey Foundation and is now enrolled on their Young Leaders/Achievers program. It’s great testament to both her and Reachin’ Higher, whose ethos is to “challenge young people to be leaders of their own lives”. This challenge, whether it be through creative arts, sport, mentoring, overseas volunteering or the many other focuses of the charity, is what underpins all their activities.

Given the opportunity to develop and the space to try new things, Croydon’s young people can be something to be proud of. This was echoed by Croydon Central MP, Gavin Barwell, who also attended the evening. He remarked, “Life doesn’t owe you anything except a fair shot. People doing my kind of job have to try to make sure that you still get a fair crack at the whip, but ultimately it’s also down to what you do”. The sentiment seems to be shared by Reachin’ Higher’s volunteers and youth workers, many of whom were members of the youth group themselves at one point. It’s clear the challenge to become leaders has certainly been undertaken by many.

All in all the evening was a success and offered a great glimpse of all the happenings at Reachin’ Higher throughout the year. It showed us that despite the general consensus, young people aren’t all that bad. In fact, young people can be amazing, inspiring and as human as the rest of us. Here’s to the next one!

For more information on Reaching Higher, visit their website here.

Chris Gaisie

Chris Gaisie

Having recently finished his degree studying Philosophy and Film at UEA, Chris decided to head back to home-sweet-home, Croydon. Currently a youth worker in Croydon, he spends his days doing everything from mentoring to teaching how to rap. Music is one of his biggest passions and he can often be found performing for a crowd.

More Posts - Website