Nomad Continues to Build on Services for Young People and Families in Need

Established in 1996 as a response to some issues of anti-social behaviour on Henley streets, NOMAD  Youth & Community Project has developed into a project that provides a wide range of services for children, young people and families today.

This week at the charity’s AGM, guests heard about the work that the charity has been doing over the last year which includes mentoring referred students who are getting into trouble in school, bike maintenance workshops, life-skills programmes, community fun days and providing 1:1 support for parents who are finding their relationship with their children challenging. Over the last year the charity has made 4711 interventions.

Tim Prior, Manager at Nomad said, “Our work is targeted towards those who are disadvantaged through economic and/or complex social issues. If you are on a low income and live in a wealthy town like Henley you are doubly disadvantaged, but we also have a broad range of social issues – with many young people suffering from low self-esteem and confidence, exhibiting anti-social behaviour, getting caught up in substance misuse, having relationship issues and making other poor life choices – these cross the class divide.”

The charity organised two residential trips to an olive farm in the South of France this year for 18 young people where they work on the farm in the morning and in the afternoon go on lots of adventurous activities including canyoning, scuba-diving and abseiling.  One of the young people impressed the olive farm owner so much he invited him back for six weeks to help with the harvest. Guests were shown a video of one of the trips at the AGM along with a video interview with a Mum of six children (5 months to 19) who said, “I would be absolutely lost without Nomad.  You don’t get that support anywhere else.”

Over last year the Nomad Henley Food Bank has delivered 218 emergency food parcels which benefited 287 adults and 261 children. They also delivery 120 Christmas food parcels.  The food bank which was located in the loft up until recently has moved to a much more accessible room on the second floor which previously was a sensory room.  Chair of Nomad, Roger Cole said, “Instead of now dreading that person turning up at 5.30pm on a Friday when everyone has gone home and I’ve got to go up the ladder to the loft, I’m much more cheery when this happens.”

Roger announced that they had welcomed two new Youth Support Workers; Angela Face and Jaco Brewer to the team after Joe Millar moved back to the North of England. Roger spoke about the sad loss of David Prior (Tim’s father) who died of cancer.  He said, “It has rocked us here. We had a celebration of his life and this place was packed. It was amazing seeing all the people who were affected by Dave’s life. He was a Dad to Nomad and we miss him greatly.”

Tim went on to talk about the charity going forward. He said, “There has been increasing emphasis on our work with the 16+ age group this last year. Making the transition from school to the next phase of their life is daunting and scary for many YP. Doubly so if they have failed at school and come from low income families. Opportunities can seem very limited. Depression and hopelessness can kick in very easily.

As a small local project, we are committed to making a difference where we can. We don’t claim to have all the answers and we certainly aren’t perfect. As workers we try to lend an empathetic ear, show practical help and support, set realistic goals and demonstrate kindness.”

Chris Ward, spoke about the fundraising which has included bike rides, walks and a donation from his new business Wellbeing Henley app.

Clive Wilkinson, Trustee of Thamesfield Youth Association who make a large donation to Nomad every year said, Nomad is the largest beneficiary of £200,000 worth of grants to local causes. He said: “They get real, tangible results and do make a difference to young people’s lives. Without them I really think the young people of Henley would be in a very precarious situation.”

Cynthia Hall, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, said: “I can’t believe I’ve lived in Henley for 25 years and I’m very new to Nomad.  I’ve added lots of knowledge during the evening. What I’ve heard is that it is the most wonderful place. I’ve been struck by the youth workers patience and way they work with the young people in an unthreatening and non judgemental way. Groups like Nomad are needed and they need the support of people around them.”