Young people from Belper School devoted a week of their summer to the fourth annual Hope for Belper Dreamscheme.
Twenty pupils aged between 11 and 14 got stuck into a range of tasks designed to build their confidence and teach them new skills while giving something back to the local community.
Gareth Greenwood, chairman of Hope for Belper, said: “Young people are a big passion for all of us, getting them to build up a sense of working in the community. It also offers them the chance to try out things they’d not experience through school, practical activites like working in an allotment or putting up a marquee.”
The students restored areas of the allotments at the rear of the Strutt Centre and also freshened up the Dandelion Clock Day Nursery’s main room. The specifics of the project are arranged in advance of the children getting involved by the management committee, but once the 20 children meet up on the Monday, supervised by a group of adults who volunteer to help out, Dreamscheme is all about the kids and the community.
This year the majority of the funding came from a £2,500 donation by Belper Baptist Church, but in previous years different local churches have contributed to the scheme.
Hope for Belper was born out of the nationwide Hope 08 initiative, designed to see a million acts of kindness performed in that year, but through the hard work of a number of Belper churches has kept going and now is involved in several different schemes, one of which is the now annual Dreamscene week.
Gareth added: “We’d like to expand the project. This year we had 40 applicants for the 20 places and it’s horrible having to send rejection letters to children who really want to get involved. With more adult volunteers it might be possible to run for longer, or involve more children which would be great.”
Perhaps spurred on by much of the negative coverage of young people in the media, the pupils carried out the tasks, including painting walls and erecting fence panels with enthusiasm and determination.
All kinds of kids came together on the project and Gareth believes that’s one of the strengths of the scheme: “It’s always a bit interesting on Monday morning when the children and adults are all meeting for the first time, the adults are often as nervous as the kids, but by that afternoon everyone’s relaxed a bit and the children really focus on the work which is great to see. They absolutely love the opportunites that this scheme offers.”
The children are rewarded at the end of the week by having a barbecue, but in the spirit of the week, it’s a barbecue they organise and run themselves, attended by parents, local residents and people involved in the Hope for Belper scheme.
Though he conceded nothing was certain as they would be just as reliant on the good will, money, time and effort of volunteers and local churches, when asked about next year Gareth said: “I’d be very surprised if there isn’t a Dreamscheme 2012 in Belper.”