Spotlight on: Lift

Judith Samuel and young people at Lift

In a series of interviews, we explore Islington’s youth hubs and the vital role they play in supporting young people. First up: Judith Samuel, senior youth work manager at Lift

Tell us about yourself. What’s your role at Lift?
I have worked in Islington for more than 32 years, with children and young people from various backgrounds and cultures. I see myself as a crucial part of the community through the long-term relationships I build with parents, partner organisations and young people.

Lift also has a lead youth worker and two part-time workers who are responsible for delivering social education programmes, one-to-one discussions, and supporting young people to engage in activities that help their personal development, as well as increasing their knowledge of issues that affect them.

What sorts of services and activities does Lift offer?
Lift has a range of programmes and activities, including specific classes such as Afrobeats, podcasting, archery, creative cooking, music and creative development. We also have a gym where young people can keep fit, exercise and meet new friends. We see on average 90 to 100 young people per evening.

The activities are chosen by the young people, who meet once every month to evaluate how the programme is going and discuss what’s new. We work closely with our partners in Islington, such as Targeted Youth Support, Pulse Sexual Health Clinic, Progress Team, Bright Futures and various counselling providers. Our in-house emotional wellbeing team and drug and alcohol services also help to provide wraparound support and referral routes. We also offer free room hire to young people working on projects together.

More recently, thanks to funding from the Holiday Activity Fund, we’ve built an outside kitchen. We’re aiming to provide family cook together days there, and to grow more herbs and vegetables.

Who are they aimed at?
Lift is a safe haven for young people who just want to chill out. The offer is aimed at people aged 13 to 21, who need to fill their time with positive activities that help them to grow into good citizens within their communities. If you’re dealing with mental health issues, you can get support from specialist services, if you feel comfortable. We also have study space where you can come and use the computers and desks to study and complete homework. We often encourage schools to visit so they understand what we do and how we can work together to support the needs of students, particularly those who are struggling to focus and learn.

How can people get involved?
We advertise our programmes through our website and social media platforms, so do check them to see what’s going on. Part of our outreach programme also involves going into schools and colleges, talking in assemblies and at freshers fairs, so young people have an opportunity to learn about and speak to us there. You can also come along to a youth drop-in session, or volunteer to take the lead on events and group workshops. There are many ways for young people to feel empowered and build confidence.

Once participants reach 16, there are also opportunities to work at Lift in various roles. Young people who’ve been coming along to Lift are encouraged to apply for positions. We value the knowledge they’ve built up over the years.

What are the benefits?
At Lift you will always have someone to talk to, who will not judge or dismiss you. Information and support are always available – if not here, we will always find someone who can help. We provide an environment where young people feel positive, where they can build good relationships with staff and other young people. We just want you to have fun and be happy.

What’s the best part of your job?
Being part of a young person’s progression and journey. This doesn’t always happen during their time with us – often years later, once in their late 20s to 30s, they come back to us and we hear their stories. My passion is consistent; 32 years on, I am still happy in my job.

Visit the Lift website to find out more and get involved.

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