We are catching up with a really good friend, and over-see-er of The Island, Nigel, as we have some questions we wanted to ask about the charity, as we fully support it and want to create as much awareness to the local community as possible.
A: The Island is a registered children’s charity in York providing “islands of space and time” for vulnerable children and young people between the ages of 8 to 18; building their confidence, resilience, self-esteem and unlocking potential through positive mentoring relationships and other unique programmes. We also run youth groups for children and young people waiting to be matched (we have many children waiting for a volunteer mentor) so that they feel welcomed and supported from day one. We have a School Based Mentoring Programme providing mentoring in Primary Schools across York. Our Girls Groups and Boys Groups support young girls and boys through a 20 session programme that focuses on different themes each week, such as, trust, respect, body image, relationships and social media. Thanks to a very generous private donation, The Island is also able to offer a coastal getaway for our children, young people, their families and carers – allowing families to reconnect, relax and enjoy each other’s company away from their daily environment. The Island is also able to provide food distribution each week to the families of the children and young people. I am the Manager of Mentoring Services and oversee the charity, but spend most of my time networking and importantly securing funding to run all these programmes.
A: The Island was formed in 2007, however, did not really start delivering these vital services until the following year in 2008. So 11 years now.
A: The Island was actually the idea of Bob Purrington who then worked for the Youth Services and saw there was a need for early intervention in the lives of children and young people to guide them in more positive pathways. In 2008 there were only 2 mentoring relationships and has now grown to over 60 mentoring relationships as well as all the other services already mentioned.
A: There are so many as for each child and young person, The Island (their volunteer mentor) has made such a difference in their lives. One young person that especially comes to mind summed up the impact on his life in these words “I’ve seen things I shouldn’t have seen and heard things a child should never hear. Thanks to The Island I’m no longer a prisoner; the chains have been broken; I can talk to my Mum now.” Another young person reflecting on their experience said “Without The Island I would definitely be ‘off the rails’, involved in crime, anti-social behaviour. . . possibly dead. Thanks to The Island my life has been transformed. I still meet my mentor for a coffee from time to time.”
A: Each year at Christmas we receive many donations of toys, gifts and festive food. So these are made into hampers and on Christmas morning together with my children we go around York delivering these to families. We then go back for lunch, hopefully a little more grateful for all we have been blessed with. Since starting this now each member of the team also deliver hampers as well which is very kind of them.
A: If anyone is interested in finding out more they can visit our website: www.theislandyork.org or call us on 01904 628449. On the website there is all the information about our programmes and volunteering opportunities and application forms. We’d love to her from anyone who might be interested and initially might want to just talk through what is involved.