The Salmon Youth Centre In Bermondsey

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Registered address
43 Old Jamaica Road,
SE16 4TE

0207 237 3788

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Case study: Zara


She describes herself as a “big daddy’s little girl”, likes using the word “dude”, is addicted to rock climbing, and was Salmon’s first mini-volunteer ever! Even though she might seem to be a very normal young person, according to her she absolutely is not: “I am not normal… I am just me; I am my own style!”

She lives only two minutes away from the centre, so whenever she is not in school or at home, you can find Zara at the Salmon Youth Centre. She first visited Salmon when she was five and never left: “I can still see myself walking into the old building for the first time. It was amazing, there was so much to do!”

Zara, as she describes it herself, “got obsessed with this place,” so it did not come as a surprise when at the age of thirteen she became a young volunteer: “I knew I was too young to become a volunteer, but I kept begging and begging. I wanted something to do, and to show my parents I was growing up and being more reliable. I had changed from a little annoying brat of five to a thirteen year old girl being able to deal with responsibility!”

She loves being a volunteer and helps out in a variety of club sessions: “Being a young volunteer is just amazing to me. I like to help out, and I have fun at the same time! It is nice to see some of the young people who are in trouble come to talk to me first, because I am closer to their age.”

Even though she hears a lot of stories about problems in Bermondsey, Zara doesn’t have any difficulties growing up in this area. She is happy in life and has a good relationship with her family. But according to her, Salmon is not just there for people with problems: “Salmon is open to anyone: people with problems, people without problems, for people to hang around, to learn, to achieve…”

Of course, Zara has struggled in life as well: “When I was in year 8, I went with this wrong crowd. We were all listening to rock music. They always used to call me the ‘emo’ or the ‘weird rock and roll girl’. I hated it. At that time I thought that everyone was against me and there was no point to life. Workers at Salmon helped me to resolve these issues. I ran away from that crowd and made new friends. Yes, I know that throughout life I am going to get labelled more often, but I no longer care… I am just me; I am my own style.”

“My parents and staff at Salmon have helped me so much throughout my life. My dad is one of the best role models for me. I look up to him all the time and I can talk to him about everything. Later in life, I want to do what Razz (Adventure Worker) does. I love rock climbing. When I belay a young person going up the climbing wall, they trust me to hold their life. That really makes me happy.”

“Without Salmon, I would probably just be at home doing nothing. I would still be scared of heights, and I wouldn’t know any of the skills I do now, like First Aid, disability work, trampolining, and rock climbing. And I wouldn’t be achieving at school. Whenever other young people ask me ‘How come you are doing all those things at your age?’ I tell them about Salmon’s volunteering scheme, and everything you can achieve and be trusted with...”

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