2022 promises to be a year brimming with activities for the 8 to 18-year-olds with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) who attend the Crossroads Care Saturday Club.

A new street dance workshop is just one activity that will be on offer, and some of the members who have been undertaking the Club’s karate sessions are going to be graded for belts.

The Club is a place where friendships blossom. Every Saturday, members meet in an unassuming council youth facility in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Like her staff and volunteers, Danielle puts her heart and soul into the club. I first visited it back in November when the Club was staging a Halloween Party. Danielle had gone the whole hog – there were decorations everywhere, cobwebs and pumpkins, and a table packed with Halloween-themed food. There was also an arch of balloons where children could have their photograph taken.

In the centre of the room, volunteers played a game of balloon volleyball and pretty soon, some of the young people had joined in too. When the balloon went astray, even the children that were not feeling communicative that day, found themselves drawn into the game.

Music rang out of a flashing speaker which Young Ambassador Elliott (pictured here with a Saturday Club member) had brought in along with a mix-tape of music he had put together for the event.

That day was something out of the ordinary. But what is a constant here is the sense of community that the Club offers to vulnerable young people.

‘Thanks to our funders – Richmond Parish Lands Charity, Hampton Fund, Barnes Fund and BBC Children in Need, great friendships have formed at Saturday Club, which has been running for more than twenty years,’ says Julie Da Costa, CEO. ‘Our highly trained team often support these children and young people over a long period, providing consistency, stability, and guidance, and improving outcomes around mental and physical wellbeing.

‘The Club provides them with a safe and fun place, and in some cases – a break from their caring roles. Even after they’ve left, the young people often stay in touch with each other, via our monthly film nights.’

And it’s not just the young people who get a lot out of the club; I overhear one volunteer saying: ‘Whenever I come here, I end up feeling energised.’

It was only my first time at Saturday Club, but I second that.

By Fiona Mitchell, Media and Communications Officer at Crossroads Care Richmond and Kingston.