Our Work is varied and some may say we are a jack of all trades and master of none… all we know is it is effective! Because the work is so very varied we will forget some aspect or another when recording it. Perhaps the best way of describing our work is to look at the way we use the facilities we own…
SECOND CHANCE HOUSE…
Our offices and headquarters are based in Portsmouth on the south coast. With good road and rail links and airports nearby it is easy to get anywhere in the country or indeed the world from here and we find it as easy to service and support our activities in those parts as anywhere. Portsmouth itself is also very interesting and is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. This brings about its own set of problems and keeps us very active within our own area. We live in client land! The Charles Dickens Ward that our offices are based in was in fact in a recent survey rated the third most impoverished ward in the UK!
Our building in Somers Road is very important to us and we were pleased through the good offices of the Hadley Trust and The Unity Trust Bank to be able to purchase it from our landlord back in 2005. Inside this building we have our offices. There is a classroom suite for use after school as a drop in centre for homework clubs and other support. It is also used during the day as a temporary alternative to school, for those excluded or unable to attend school as part of our ‘Back to school’ scheme, most notably supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. There is our drop in Play Scheme for parent and toddlers and we have some of the best facilities in Portsmouth for this. Our Edward Davis Room is used by the local community as well as ourselves for meetings, lectures, musical rehearsals and even sleeping accommodation occasionally!! It is a three floored building and the lower floor or cellar is used for storing a mountain of equipment used for camping, fishing and the general execution of our charitable objects. We provide a variety of services which include but not exclusively, parenting classes, debt counselling, legal representation, educational and social training, personal counselling, advice and general advocacy work. The main thrust of work is done by volunteers who become advocates for the young people and in so doing establish themselves as family friends who have advice and skills to give or services they can tap into. In many cases they are simply providing what in days gone by would have been provided by a functional and extended family, but today is sadly lacking.
SECOND CHANCE COTTAGE, FINLAND…
We lease a cottage in Finland from Kotka City Council where we take small groups of children to for a week at a time. The cottage is featured elsewhere in this website both in the gallery and by way of a news report. The cottage is situated beside the Baltic Sea in the middle of a forest. It is a ‘wilderness experience’ for the inner city children of the UK. Children who most often have never left their own city boundaries, never flown, never been in a foreign environment.
You may well imagine they suffer some disorientation and confusion at the opportunities the environment presents to them! It is when this confusion sets in that we find the confident street wise youngsters from the UK are happy to listen to the Volunteers and staff of Second Chance and we are able to ‘duck under the radar’ and penetrate their minds and confidence and achieve results that would otherwise take months and even years to achieve. It is a very valuable if now (due to Finnairs withdrawal of sponsorship) a slightly expensive resource. Though it has to be said, we can still be at our cottage quicker and for about the same price as to a centre we sometimes use in Scotland!
SECOND CHANCE NATURE RESERVE…
Perhaps our most valuable resource is the land we own at Fontley, a village midway between Southampton and Portsmouth.
Back in April 2007 we discovered that 25 acres of land was for sale about 15 minutes outside the Portsmouth City boundaries. Running through this land was the River Meon, a well known chalk stream in the south east. It also featured a further carrier stream and two lakes with a third lake now silted up and in need of restoration. We realised a dream when we were able to purchase this and had a countryside home of our own.
It is truly remarkable the effect the countryside has on our inner city children, especially when engaged in rural pursuits of fishing, camping and working with animals and nature.
The facilities are used by the local youngsters on a daily sometimes hourly basis and by the further afield young people as a residential facility. The use of the land is now the centre piece of our activities and the range of activities includes fishing, camping, horse riding, maintenance work, river keeping, small farming activities and husbandry, nature studies, ornithology and wildlife watching. The list is set to expand, but the effect on the children is already significant.
It gives us all a chance to get inside these youngsters and help them. It is most often when in this environment that the young people reveal their secret thoughts and concerns and it is then that we can help them the most.
TRAVEL AND VISITATION…
In addition to our main facilities we also travel as guests to various other fishing and interesting venues. Educational visits such as to the zoo or museums, dockyards and other interesting things occur. We run residential weeks at Sun Parks holiday centres in Belgium where homes are rented and we live as a family for a week, showing the young people how a family can function. With the young single mothers it is sometimes a residential to show them in an intense way opportunities and possibilities for looking after their children. We are fortunate enough to have the facilities of Whitmuir Hall in the Borders area, known by the children as ‘the posh place’ but again the opportunity for social education is huge during a residential of this kind.
We visit many venues of a different nature for fishing; lochs and welsh lakes as well as small streams and carp lakes have all benefited our youngsters. We were greatly blessed a couple of years ago by the presentation of a fishing boat in memory of fellow young angler Jonathan Ryan by his mother. We named the boat ‘Jonathan’s Gift’ and his gift has been the inspiration to many young people whilst learning the art of boat fishing from places as close by as Eastney Harbour for flat fish to Lake Bala in Wales for Pike. An interesting life for the youngsters. It is true however the most valuable resource of all is the time of a caring and interested adult in the life of a young person. Nothing is achieved without this so our volunteer network that runs to nearly 500 people now is our most valuable asset! Many of these people now well into adulthood, were once young clients of the charity themselves; they make the very best volunteers and encourage the rest and make it all worth while.
The Second Chance Children’s Charity
Second Chance House
Somers Road Bridge