Winter update from our chair

Winter update from our chair

Rose Bowl in lockdown: challenging, distressing and always hard work – but an essential lifeline for local children and a vibrant part of our community.

Covid-19 forced us to close the Rose Bowl in the spring. Since then, we’ve been open, closed and open again.

This has been really tough for the hundreds of children, young people and families who would normally have been using the centre. Alongside the real financial hardship of lockdown there’s the experience of isolation, digital exclusion, anxiety, boredom and frustration. Acknowledging and addressing these feelings has been the number one priority for the Rose Bowl team.

This isn’t just about Covid-19. The killing of George Floyd hit a lot of young people very hard. Clive, Dawn and the rest of the team have spent a great deal of time both online and face-to-face talking about Black Lives Matter and what it means for young people of all ethnicities here in the UK. 

And despite being physically closed for much of the year, it wasn’t long before the Rose Bowl team found ways to adapt to our new socially distanced reality.

They set up group zoom catch-ups, one-to-one video chats, phone calls, texts and socially distanced pre-booked advice sessions and support groups either at the Rose Bowl or in the open air. 

“This year, as I’ve gotten to know her she’s really helped me stay in the right mind frame.

I think the Rose Bowl youth workers have been my biggest motivation to reach my goals by encouraging and supporting me.”

The team has found a way to ensure that careers advice, counselling and therapy can still be provided. To tackle digital exclusion, they sourced re-furbished laptops to help some of our most disadvantaged young people. And the bike maintenance workshops which we paid for allowed young people to repair, look after and then keep abandoned bikes, which really helped them with travel during lockdown.

Despite the hardships, the Rose Bowl’s children and young people have been amazing and they have found new ways of doing things

A group of older girls have been supporting some of our younger girls through lockdown, and the musicians who use our recording studio have been working together – producing songs and tracks collaboratively and virtually instead of just on their own. Even without knowing it, our young people have been mutually supportive throughout this period.

The Rose Bowl’s virtual service has been a lifeline to many children and their families – and we have increasingly become convinced that not only do we need to protect our counselling service for young people but to roll out similar provision for families as well.

“What has really been helpful, was a member of staff being available to speak to me during the pandemic and also their attendance on zoom calls with the school over this period.”

While all this is going on, the Council has been reviewing how its children’s services are provided across the borough. It’s still early days, but one thing is clear – the Rose Bowl is seen as a model local youth centre. There are other communities in Islington which look to the Rose Bowl as a blueprint for how they could provide a comprehensive and youth-led community service.

None of this could be done without you and the local support which you give us. It costs a lot to run the centre, and without the generosity of local people, it would not be long before the Rose Bowl would have to close its doors permanently. 

So please help us out as much or as little as you can in 2021 so that we can guarantee the future of such a well-loved and much-needed service. The easiest way to make a regular donation is through our justgiving page.

Oswin Baker
Chair, Friends of the Rose Bowl Board of Trustees

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