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30 October 2018

Our October Member Spotlight highlights the work of Snow-Camp youth charity. Snow-Camp offers a  unique programme of snowsports, education and vocational opportunities to support, empower and bring together inner-city young people in London. We speak to Anna Kent, the communications manager, about Snow-Camp’s current projects, future plans and their passion for youth work.  

Q: What programmes do you run at Snow-Camp?

A: We use sport to engage and inspire young people in London to overcome the limitations imposed by social issues. Through an accredited Programme Journey we bring young people together from divided communities to break down territorial bias, often found in gang culture, and to support those in ethnic minority neighbourhoods. Through our Programme Journey we show young people that with hard work and determination (2 key elements of learning how to ski or snowboard), they can achieve great things.

Q: How many young people do you work with?

A: We work with up to 300 young people in London each year.

Q: How did you get into youth work?

A: Snow-Camp was founded by Dan Charlish in 2003. Working as a youth worker in Stockwell, London at the time. Dan overheard his youth group saying, whilst playing a snowboarding X-Box game, that this was the closest they were ever going to get to the mountains and snowsports.

A snowboarder himself, Dan knew that a few days on the slopes could be the mechanism to spur these young people into a positive mindset. Just weeks later he had secured funding to take the first 13 young people on a week-long programme to France. Since that life-changing week, Dan with a passionate staff team has driven the charity forward to support around 300 young people in London each year. 

Q: How does London inspire you?

A: We believe that London is one of the main sporting cities in the world. London has a history of hosting major sporting events and we have world-class venues. We’re constantly inspired by how much Londoners love sport too, especially when they’re given the opportunity to try something new like snowsports.

Talking to young people from across London we often hear how much they are attracted to the idea of snowsports but feel totally unable to take part. The excitement that it develops in them is what inspires us to use snowsports as a youth development tool.

Q: What is best about doing what you do?

A: Everyone who joins Snow-Camp is a beginner and the levels of progression mean that all young people can develop, learn and have fun on our programmes on a level playing field. To see London young people coming together from different boroughs and estates on our programmes is incredibly inspiring.

“Everyone had the same view that they were there to learn to ski or snowboard and to get on with everyone else. No-one had the mentality that you’re from here or I’m from there. All the barriers that you usually have around your area were broken down. Everyone was there to learn and have fun.” Snow-Camp young person

Q: What is worst about doing what you do?

A: In January 2018 we conducted a nationwide study with YouGov that showed that 71% of young people feel they need more support from society to enable them to achieve their potential and 76% stated that there is a clear link between a lack of positive opportunities and an increased risk of young people falling into crime and antisocial behaviour. With 3 out of 4 young people feeling like there are not the right opportunities for them to succeed, these shocking figures show there is more vital work to be done.

Q: What’s been most exciting this year?

A: We launched our #Switch180 campaign in February 2018 to highlight the critical importance of supporting our young people. The campaign shows that we must do more as a society to provide the right opportunities for young people today. To see the impact the campaign has had nationally has been incredible. We received national and local press coverage, donor engagement increased by 91% and our individual supporter base increased by 28%. 

Q: What’s your next big project?

A: In the spring of this year we were incredibly proud to achieve our London Youth Silver Quality Mark. Snow-Camp was also honoured to be included as part of the BBC Get Inspired series and we were finalists for the London Sport Awards, Children and Young People Now Awards and Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Promoting Opportunity. We’re also shortlisted at the 2018 Charity Times Awards.

As our new programme year gets underway, we are also looking forward to celebrating our 15th Anniversary Year with a ball at LSO St Lukes. We’re also working hard to obtain our London Youth Gold Quality Mark!

Q:  What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer young Londoners?

A: To live with an open heart and an open mind and to not judge others based on where they’re from, their background or ethnicity but instead become a source of support to one another. We live in a time where young people need to come together, to create connections, not divisions.

Q: Anything else you’d like to mention?

A: If you’d like to find out more about our work, please check out our website.

You can follow Snow-Camp on TwitterInstagram or on Facebook.

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