Written by Jill Mann from Together for Peace
I had a meeting at ARK last night and arrived early to see how the young people & Ray had found (and/or survived!) their first evening of ‘youthful TLC’. I was greeted with beaming smiles, enthusiasm and a cafe that looked clean and in order. I could tell it had gone well. I asked two of the lads how they had found it, what they’d enjoyed most and what they’d learnt. They described how well Ray spoke with them and explained cafe tasks to them. They told me that they now knew all the stages of washing up properly and one of them stated that he wanted a paid job in a cafe when he was older so this was good experience for him. They seemed like naturals behind the counter and they clearly had enjoyed the first shift. As they were leaving their words were ‘when are we working again?’, Ray replied ‘next Wednesday’ and he shook their hands. The lads seemed to like their new roles, responsibilities and aprons. I then spoke with a couple of the youth workers from CATCH and they described their delight on entering the cafe and seeing an array of young people, all sat politely round the tables, drinking tea, hot chocolate and eating cake and toast. This isn’t the picture of Harehills youth that is often painted. Knowing that our young people have a safe space like this to go to and thrive within feels very important in the times we’re currently living in.