‘Grassing or Grooming’ project, a picture of two young men.
From soul singers to successful rappers and LIPA tutors, the community has congregated around the Methodist Centre to enable young people to pick-up new talents and crucially, practice them.
Formed in 1967, it is a youth club steeped in history and very much in-tune with its previous owner’s values of Christian compassion. Based in Toxteth, the Centre is a sparkling hive of sport, culture, and art – which is why the MVRP used its new fund to make Monday night sessions there, even more creative.
Typical of its tutors is vocalist Barbara Phillips who became a professional singer at the age of just sixteen and is a member of the Liverpool City Region Music Board. She has even composed two musicals. Said Barbara: “I grew up in this area, joined a choir and was fortunate enough to have contacts in the music industry through my family. I ended up doing the music for soap opera “Brookside” and even worked with Ken Dodd! Music can teach young people skills but might also be a factor in getting them into a good school.”
Along with LIPA tutor Jez, Barbara teaches ukulele, keyboards, guitar and singing; and has worked on fun ways to make sure the young people get a sound grounding in music theory. Affording your own instrument to practice with, can be a major barrier, which is why The Methodist Centre loans them out to students.
That same quality and empathy is also visible in the studio – where young artists have been producing music and spoken word – and in the sports hall, where proper professional drills are taught to improve footballing skills.
Inclusivity, encouragement and most importantly positivity, is evident everywhere you visit in the Beaconsfield Street site. The Centre’s legacy, says Manager Spencer Joel, ensures that young people attend from the local community – and beyond. “We believe it is all about catching them young and meeting the need” he said, “we have run very successful programmes on knife-crime and engaged with young people with autism and particularly ADHD. We give young people the skills to help them move on to better lives. For us, it is mainly about socialisation, being able to talk to them one-to-one about things like their experiences of aggression, and the consequences of violence.
We are filling a big hole but judging by the numbers, it seems to be working and the young people see us as a second home.”