Nicola King feature image
Nicola King, Grand Union’s Youth Participation Coordinator, works with young people across our areas of operation, to support them, and give them an opportunity to make a difference in their community.

She says: “My role is really rewarding. Others’ achievements, however small, bring me joy.”

Nicola has been a youth worker in one way or another for over 30 years and her role keeps her on her toes.

“During the school holidays, we run activities for young people aged 8 to 17 – our programme can range from sports like football, basketball, futsal and swimming, to wellbeing and holistic therapy, like mindfulness and aromatherapy, as well as arts and crafts, cooking, creative writing, graffiti projects and even DJ workshops.

“The activities can often be a diversionary tactic to young people getting involved in antisocial behaviour. Our programmes have an impact not just on the young person, but there’s a ripple effect through school, their home and the community, producing positive behaviour and outcomes. So they’re having fun and socialising, but we’re reducing antisocial behaviour at the same time.

“Working with young people in this way, we can drip feed to them the impact of their actions and the impact on Grand Union. They develop a sense of responsibility and become more self-aware, preventing issues, disputes and potential evictions.

“At the moment, we’re running these programmes across the Bedfordshire region, and in Milton Keynes, but we’re hoping to be able to roll out programmes in South Northants in the future.”

Nothing pleases Nicola more than to see young people’s development.

“When you see someone turn up on their own who was initially too scared to come without bringing a friend; when you see someone join in an activity, when they weren’t socialising at all at first; when you see someone trying something new – these are all positives for me.

“If someone’s shy at trying something, like cooking, we’ll show them a way that makes it easy for them to have a go. It’s great when the next time they see you, they show you a photo of what they’ve done at home. Small things can make a big difference to someone.

“One young person, who’d once been on a leadership programme at Grafham Water through a partnership with the Rotary Club, recognised me some years later and said: ‘If it wasn’t for you, my life would have been really messed up.’ So sometimes there are instant results, and sometimes it’s years later when I see it in people.”

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Grand Union Housing Group Limited Registered office: K2, Timbold Drive, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes MK7 6BZ Grand Union Housing Group Limited is a Charitable Community Benefit Society registered in England & Wales No. 7853, regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing No. 5060, and is a member of the National Housing Federation.