A long, long time ago...

Back in 1998 St Mary’s Church took on its now long-standing youth worker Malcolm Kydd and he brought some big ideas with him. He bought the abandoned Midland Bank and began renovating it into a workable youth club that opened in 1999 for drop-in sessions 3 days a week. With help of volunteers and year out staff the drop-in expanded, bringing in young people from all around the local area. The Village Youth Project and ‘The Bank’ were born and well established and have been going from strength to strength ever since.

In 2001 we ran our first whole project residential to Barcaple, Scotland.

In 2002, John Harper joined the team as a full time community youth worker, focusing on running courses on things like rock climbing and with more help from volunteers and the creation of the young leader programme (that later became The Melt), The Bank grew again.

Taking off...

Cat Farrell and Helen Mason joined the team in 2004 as year out staff becoming Youth Development Workers when their initial years ended and John Harper moved on to other things. With these two came an increase in clubs including Treading the Boards (TTB, our musical theatre group), Elite (our dance group), Gripped (rock-climbing), Breakout (kayak and canoeing), Gospel Choir, food club and LCA (Lights, Camera, Action).

2007 saw the edition of Inga Lanigan (to take charge of administration) and Jane Crompton (to run the Motivate programme). As their year contract ended Inga stayed on to become another long standing member of the team. 2007 was also the year of Forge, our Year Out scheme focusing on running clubs. Gary Kendrick was one of the first Forge Team members and is now our Media Manager.

The Unique shop opened in 2010 with the help of volunteers and a new face in Year Out worker, Rachael Gillies. This year also saw our annual residential making the move from Barcaple to Whitaugh Park as well as the exciting move of TTB performances from the Woodchurch School hall to the Little Theatre in Birkenhead.

In 2011 we began running the chaplaincy at Woodchurch High School with Helen Mason taking the lead in Woodchurch to develop the Christian ethos of the school. At this time we also began to concentrate our efforts into expanding our most popular clubs like School of Rock, TTB and Unique Club and reducing our less popular clubs in order to cope with the changes in our staff and a reduction in funding.

In 2013, the Unique shop moved from its shop front across the road into what used to be the computer room in The Bank. This meant we had a central area for all of The Village Youth Projects staff and were utilising all of the space The Bank’s building gave us.

As the project grew we once again moved our annual residential from Whitaugh Park to Quinta in 2014, meaning we were only 45 minutes away and could cater for a wider variety of interests and abilities.

These days...

2015 and 2016 were definitely years of change. As Helen moved on to other things, Cat took over her role in Woodchurch and Freya Mumford came in to run the Unique shop in 2015. Malcolm then took over the chaplaincy the following year as Cat moved back to focus on all things at The Bank. 2016 was also an exciting time for TTB as we split into two casts (juniors and seniors) in the hope of maintaining fairness and giving the younger members a chance for bigger roles as numbers carried on increasing.

2017 is also set to be an exciting year. Cat is going on maternity leave and we welcome Rachel Hsuan to the team to cover her hours. Whatever happens this year it promises to be as exciting and eventful as the past 19 years!