YMCA Hooray for Homework Club – “The best place in the world”

Tucked away on the Bellamy Estate in Mansfield East is Y5. A YMCA community centre and internet cafe for local people. Hooray for Homework Club runs every week day from 3.30pm – 5.30pm. Kersti Fourcin – PR & Comms – discusses why it is so important to Mansfield and the community.

When we arrive, Jayne- a Youth Worker with YMCA for 4 years – and Val – a Transitional Worker with YMCA for 2 years, are busy making final preparations for Hooray for Homework Club. Cake ingredients are being laid out in the kitchen, the Xbox is being wired up, loom bands arranged, computers set up, fabric pens and cushions assembled amongst other activities. There isn’t a lot of space but Val and Jayne make sure that the place is teaming with inspiration and creative tasks to keep the kids busy. “It’s hard work,” says Jayne, who has been a leader at the club for nearly 5 years, “but it’s worth it. The place will be buzzing soon.” Jayne is passionate about Hooray for Homework Club and providing a safe learning environment for local children. “There isn’t anything else for them. They come here for help with their homework but to develop social skills and good relationships as well.”

At 3.30pm the first children arrive, bounding up to Jayne and Val to tell them about their days. One demonstrates his new loom band creation, another shows off her favourite doll. The children scatter themselves around the room; Y5 is alive. 2 of the older children, now in year 5 at the local primary school, tell me they’ve been coming to Hooray for Homework Club nearly every term day since they were 6. “We really like it. It’s better than just going home.” They discuss a piece of homework together, demonstrating that it’s not just the leaders that help the children at Hooray for Homework Club. They help each other.

By the cushions, Aisha is working with a group of girls who also tell me that they come to the club most days. Aisha’s mum thinks Hooray for Homework Club is “really good for kids on the estate…Aisha loves it. She’s always been creative but Val moves her on and makes her think.” Val echoes this, “she’s such a creative child. She used to find it hard to concentrate. Now she produces some wonderful work with us.” Aisha tells me that she thinks the club is “the best place in the world… especially when Val’s here!”

The 5 computers at the club were paid for by funding from the National Lottery. They are invaluably helpful with the children’s homework, as well as helping the children to develop new skills and teach other how to play educational games. It’s great that there’s a space for children to get help with their work as well as try out creative activities they might not usually get the chance to.

Mel Rooney, who has been running Hooray for Homework Club for 5 years, says that it is about “shifting the work perception at an early stage. We might not know the answer to everything, but it’s about setting up a safe environment with a focus on team work and learning.” Some children, who are now too old for the club, have started coming back to help out. “We’re giving them that work experience too. They need a purpose.” Says Jayne.

It’s very evident that Hooray for Homework Club is incredibly important to the children here. It’s important to the community too. The children look forward to the club every day and are inspired by Val and Jayne. It would be hard not to be inspired by such passionate role models.

Find out more about Hooray for Homework Club on our website. Support our work here. Vote for Hooray for Homework club in the National Lottery Awards.