SMASH works with youngsters facing difficulties at home, in school and their social environment through no fault of their own. They are teamed up with a volunteer ‘mentor’ for a year, who provides encouragement, support and guidance.

The partnership will see youngsters aged between 13yr – 19yrs enjoy fun, free weekly sports sessions ice skating or trampolining along gym, fitness or games training at The Link Centre, which is run as a social enterprise. It is hoped that the activities will enrich the relationship between mentor and young person and encourage those involved in the project to develop their confidence, improve their social skills and make new friends.

Better staff will also deliver talks and advice on careers in leisure to those nearing employment age. Targeted at young people reaching the end of their GCSE’s the management team at The Link will host bi-annual careers days, offering the potential for youngsters to join the leisure operator’s apprenticeship scheme.

Commenting on the new initiative, Paul Dodd, General Manager at Better’s Link Centre said: “We’ve worked with SMASH on an ‘ad hoc’ basis over the past 18 months and are aware of the fantastic and valuable work the charity does for local youngsters. We wanted to do more to help and I’m confident that the new sessions we’re putting on, will provide some really valuable, enjoyable recreation time for mentors and the young people they support.  We also hope that in the longer-term we will be able to provide career opportunities for some of the SMASH youngsters we have got to know.”

Zoe Ashworth, Building Bridges Case Manager at the SMASH Youth Project added: “We’re very grateful to the team at Better’s Link Centre for their time, the opportunity to use their facilities and their ongoing support. They are enabling young people to enjoy activities that we could not otherwise fund and the careers advice and opportunities for school leavers will be really invaluable for many of those looking for a first foothold in employment.”

April 2017 saw staff from The Link Centre host a free, one-off team building day for SMASH; enabling newly trained volunteers to meet and interact with young people awaiting a mentor.

SMASH is currently recruiting new volunteers for its mentoring programme. For further information or to download an application pack visit: Visit www.smashyouthproject.co.uk