Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

RSPCA Mallydams Wood show off their SPARK award.

SPARK sets out its stall

Working with young people in a voluntary or community group? Specialist help and advice is available from SPARK, who invite interested parties to see what they have to offer this week. Chris Connelley reports.

Whilst the all-purpose neighbourhood youth clubs of the post-war years have diminished visibility and are now few in number, a casualty of spending cuts, targeted provision and changing times, it is probably fair to say that the last few years have seen an explosion in overall provision for young people.

This takes many forms, from sports and environmental projects, after-school and homework clubs through to uniformed groups like the Scouts and Guides, which continue to grow as new generations embrace their established traditions.

Crucially, many schemes now operate in the voluntary sector, and most rely heavily on volunteers to keep going, says SPARK communications coordinator Lisa Coupal.

In addition to the everyday business of providing young people with really positive experiences, groups now need to grapple with the other big change over the last two decades, namely the increase in administration and regulation, as even small and informal projects need to satisfy safeguarding and quality concerns.

The good news is that help is at hand from SPARK, which specialises in providing support to voluntary and community groups working with young people aged up to 19 in East Sussex. The organisation already has 140 member groups across Lewes, Wealden, Eastbourne, Hastings and Rother.

SPARK is free to join and provides

  • Access to free training in key areas such as child protection, food hygiene and first aid
  • Funding and networking opportunities for members
  • Advice on setting up and running your group
  • Help with promoting events and achievements through its website and social media.

SPARK are here in town on Wednesday 20 November from 5pm to 7pm at Sussex Coast College, Station Plaza, TN34 1BA, Hastings, where they will be hosting an informal meeting for existing and potential providers. They will be looking at how groups can help each other and offering helpful support and resources. Light refreshments will be provided.

One local group which has already benefited from SPARK’s support is RSPCA Mallydams Wood, which received the junior award for Environmental Achievement at the SPARK Awards this year for their Hastings Wild Things project. This supports parents, their pre-school children and young people from Hastings and Rother in enjoying nature in a relaxed, informal setting.

Prior notification is not necessary, but to have an idea of numbers, SPARK would like to hear from those planning to attend the meeting via

To find out more, see the SPARK website.

That SPARK effect!

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Posted 15:02 Monday, Nov 18, 2013 In: Grassroots

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