The King’s Arms is a charity set up by Christians in Petersfield that was launched in September 2001 in order to meet the needs of the local young people and to be a valuable resource to the community. The King’s Arms is the biggest resource of its kind in the area and has successfully attracted thousands of young people since it first opened its doors. Since 2010 we have expanded the targeted work we do across East Hampshire and from 2018 we are developing youth work provision in Alton. While visiting the centre, our local MP, Damian Hinds, said ‘The King’s Arms is a jewel in the crown of Petersfield.’
Our purpose is to provide an environment for young people where they are encouraged to live their daily lives to the best of their abilities. We work alongside young people to enable them to reach their full purpose and potential in life. We offer a friendly listening ear, help and advice and provide opportunities for learning new skills and trying new things as well as offering a safe place of refuge.
The Kings Arms also strives to encourage the local community to take part of the responsibility for the care of their young people, through either financial support of our charity or by giving time or resources to the project. It also offers its services when possible to be an influence and support generally in young people’s work. We have attracted support from schools, councils, police, local businesses and churches and community members who have recognised the good work that is done and the need for this resource in our town, which is based on sustainability and resilience that has been built up over the many years of service to the community.
The aims of the Kings Arms are to facilitate young people:
- To have a safe and fun space to meet
- To have opportunities to talk and discover meaning in life
- To feel positive about themselves
- To feel valued as individuals
- To feel part of a community to which they contribute
- To be supported to make wise, informed decisions
- To be supported to become good citizens
Overall, our work usually falls into one of the following three areas. Open Access provides a safe space for young people at after school clubs and at age-specific club nights, works with a local secondary school to offer relationship and sex education, and drugs and alcohol education, as well as offering an annual club for young people transitioning between primary and secondary school. The Mentoring and Inclusion area of work offers a mentoring service to local schools, as well as courses on self-esteem, anxiety, identity and anger management. It also works alongside young people who are on the edge of exclusion. Our Targeted area of work includes club nights for young people with special needs and various forms of work with young carers. There are 9 members of staff and about 40 volunteers who support the work at the Kings Arms.
Our impact cannot be measured through statistical analysis alone, as the benefit of our work is as much to do with our daily, dependable presence with and acceptance of young people as it is the specific, timely interventions in their lives. We consistently see positive responses and changes for the young people we work with, as they recognise themselves in the following selection of quotes from them about the project:
‘I get to be myself.’; ‘I have made more friends.’; ‘KA helps me think through the choices I make.’; ‘I have become less depressed.’; ‘I have become more happy, independent, and confident.’; ‘I enjoy it because it gives me something to do instead of just sitting at home on my own’.