20 year anniversary.
Back in April 2002, we opened our very first session of Streetwise. This was based in the hall of a Lytham Church
One of the main reasons for us setting up the group was that we were seeing a change in our own teenage children. They were becoming less active and less sociable and were starting to stay in their rooms obsessing over sonic the hedgehog and super mario.
The first sessions of Streetwise were more keep fit and self defence based training. This ran on a Monday night. It started with our children’s friends and grew steadily. Over the next few years through Gerry’s work as specialist learning mentor at Blackpool and Fylde College and Harbour House, he integrated the young adults with the youth of Streetwise and began to do more music and media based workshops. This found a common ground between all of them. They started writing their own songs and recording them.
In 2008 a collaboration from the youth produced an award winning song and video which they devised and performed entirely by themselves. This won the Princess Diana Award for Anti Bullying. The song is called Who are U 2 Judge ME. This powerful video has been and is still being used as a tool for antibullying workshops in schools and colleges across the country.
Shortly after this accolade, the youth got the taste for record producing and wrote some other amazing and meaningful songs. Bright Lights which is song about gambling, and Drugs 2 Decision are to name but two.......then this generation grew up.
So in 2009 Streetwise took a change in direction and rebooted as a generic Youth Club. We started opening from Lytham on a Friday night. It was a club where children could make friends, play, have fun and do activities. We had the use of a minibus so with having nephews and Nieces living in Warton with not a lot to do we decided to start picking up the young people in Warton and take them to the club in Lytham FREE OF CHARGE. This was extremely successful
From this, we started doing other activities during the week such as Streetdance and Boxfit. We wanted children who didn’t necessarily get the opportunity to try different hobbies or groups to benefit from such experiences by collecting them and taking them home and subsidizing classes. We were able to train a keen group of Street dancers who the majority had had no dance experience, into a pretty good crew. They were in the Finals of Fylde's Got Talent on a couple of occasions and got the chance to perform in front of over 500 people, they were asked to dance at many charity events which built teamwork and self-esteem enabling them to experience Happy Memories
2009 was also the first Year of our TIME TO SHINE SHOWS.
The ethos behind these shows was to allow all the children in the club to show off their talent, whatever it was, from reading a poem, telling Jokes, singing, playing instruments, etc. And for all those who were too shy to perform they had roles behind the scenes such as operating the lighting and sound to running the dressing rooms. These shows were highly successful and amazing times were had by all.
Unfortunately in March 2012 we unable to use the hall at Lytham, so we found temporary accommodation at Freckleton Village Hall. We were there for 5 years. So we continued to pick up the children in Warton and bring them to Freckleton instead. The numbers began to grow immediately as we had a new influx of Children from the new area.
During these years we have won the Pride of Fylde Award on two occasions and got awarded the first prize from the Swallowdale trust
In 2013 we devised a program called Unique. This event was to inspire and educate young teenage girls tackling issues on self-esteem, self-care, bullying, body image, and aspirations.
The Unique event consisted of various workshops and interactive drama groups along with side guest speakers. We invited the majority of the Blackpool and Fylde schools to each bring a group of girls to our venue during the day. In the evening we had a fashion show, boyband, dancers and a disco. Throughout the whole day, we catered for 259 Teenage girls. Since this, we have run similar programmes
After our move to Freckleton, there were times that we nearly called it a day as we couldn’t have rehearsals for shows and were limited to what we could do. We had been running the club for over 10 years. And had other personal projects going on too. But something inside us kept telling us we couldn’t let these children down.
One Friday night, on June 2016 a gentleman walked through the door. He represented a charity from the Duke of Lancaster Benevolent Fund which was offering grants for replacement equipment etc I had explained what we do and what we were about. We decided our next purchase had to be a new minibus. I got chatting to this gentleman about my real dream of having our own centre. I told him that I had been trying to get the derelict army welfare centre in Warton but after 6 years of trying, I still was no further. This man wrote down the details and said ‘leave it with me …I'll see what I can do.
A couple of months later I got the amazing news that the MOD was prepared to let Streetwise take over the building.
We finally got the keys in the last week of November 2017 and had secured enough funding to do the basic renovations to get the centre open asap. In just ten weeks we restored, recycled, renovated and cleaned this amazing space. All the furniture within the building has been donated. Over the years, Streetwise had already accumulated music and media equipment which has been in storage for such a time as this.
After three weeks of opening, we had over 100 children turn up to the Friday Night Youth club.
Since we have opened our own youth based community centre we have been able to offer a wide range of positive activities. Over our first year of operating, we have run weekly Boxfit, Streetdance, Football skills and Youth club groups. We have a Family and Tots group which is free admission and a free lunch is provided. This is to encourage mums, dads or guardians to come and build relationships within the community. French classes, Cycling Proficiency, and Savvy Sats Classes have also taken place
During the Summer Holidays and School holidays throughout the year we have been able to offer a free holiday clubs at the centre and other satellite clubs which we run in neighbouring towns.
We have our own fully equipped music room and recording studio, Games rooms, and Performing Arts Hall
We have recently embarked on creating our own Forestry School in the ¾ acres of surrounding land which we own
We are proud to announce that we won Fylde Borough Council Community Centre of The year 2017 , Pride of Fylde on two occasions and BIBA Finalists 2019 and Gerry and I was fortunate enough to be invited to Buckingham Palace Garden Party where we had the opportunity to speak to the Duke of Kent about our work at Streetwise
Over the last few years, Streetwise has branched out into delivering positive classes and workshops into the local schools. We have also opened Youth clubs in surrounding areas and have been commissioned by the local parish and town councils to run activities and outreach programmes for youth in the local areas
In 2018 our daughter opened EGG Performing Arts and Well Being School which runs on a weekly basis . This has had an amazing impact and become a great provision.
I am sure you will all agree that there seems to be such an increase in pressure on children and young adults today. The way society has evolved has created so many more social problems and stress for them. Streetwise wants to be able to help by forming relationships, giving opportunities and experiences and most importantly Creating Happy Memories
Our vision is to have this centre opened 24 /7 providing activities and be a safe-haven for children and young adults which will help them as they grow
Over the last nineteen years, we have relied on the help of volunteers. We have self-funded and occasionally received small grants.
To sum it up, in a nutshell, we want to help all local underprivileged and disadvantaged children to experience different activities and skills which then we can nurture into a gift or talent at no monetary cost to them. Thus creating their Happy Memory which will always last forever
Elaine Gregoire x