What do you do if something needs doing and no one else is doing it? Well, London Stone’s Steve Walley rolls up his sleeves and gets stuck in. We look at the launch of a much-needed youth club.

Boys playing on small red-topped pool table in large room with others watching, in Crossroads Youth Club, Stone, Staffs.
The pool tournament at Crossroads Youth Club, Stone, Staffs. "There was a lot of talk from the boys about winning, but in the end the girls came through to gives us an all girl final," says Steve.

Over past decades, around the UK, funding cuts have reduced youth services to the point of extinction. Where once a youth club was a rite of passage for many kids, the excitement of meeting once a week without parental or teacher supervision, to make new friends and do new activities has been widely lost.

Stone in Staffordshire, home town to managing director Steve Walley, was a good example. An historic market town on a canal, it has attractive Georgian frontages and stone-built houses. It’s also the focus of extensive housing development, with a significant increase in population on the way.

With the anticipated influx of families with children, and no facilities for them outside school, locals expressed concern about potential problems.

Getting stuck in

“Rather than moan about it, I wanted to do something,” says Steve. “I remember the enjoyment I got from getting together with mates over a pool table or soccer game at the local club when I was a teenager and I’ve got young kids. I want them and their friends to experience the same thing. A youth club is a step to maturity,” he adds. “It’s a protected environment, but you can do what you want, make friends with people you don’t see outside school.”

In conjunction with four other local residents, including Claire Lane who is Youth Development Lead at the Prince’s Trust, Steve set about testing the water, finding out how popular a youth club might be.

“The response was phenomenal,” he says. “At the open evening we held in October, parents and children gave us a huge list of ideas of what they wanted, and our request for volunteers means the club will have a full complement of DBS-checked adult helpers.”

Brightly coloured poster detailing the opening and upcoming events of the Crossroads Youth Club, Stone, Staffs.
Plenty of enticing activities at the new Stone youth club. Poster provided by Panda Press.

Crossroad Youth Club opens

On November 6th, 2023, Crossroads Youth Club opened its doors for the first time, hosting a games night for 26 children. The following week 32 turned up—not surprising when activities include pool tournaments, cake baking, and ball games sessions with Andy Osgathorpe, a member of the committee and experienced coach with qualifications from the FA.  There’s even been an evening at the local indoor climbing centre.

None of this is possible, of course, without financial support. Steve and the team wanted to keep costs as low as possible for parents, so each session costs £3/child, including all the planned activities and refreshments.

Large indoor climbing interior with girls using handholds on wall and others using equipment.
Clip and Climb's indoor climbing evening was a huge hit. One parent said, " I was amazed by how confident all the children looked, and I love seeing some bonds forming."

Ongoing support needed

That can’t cover all the expenses. So, local businesses have been recruited to help. Clip and Climb and Panda Press are just two local companies who have given their services for free.

And London Stone are doing their bit too, with financial support that will help give the kids the best experience. Currently, the weekly session caters to children of 8-12 years old. Plans are to open another evening for older children in the near future.

“A chance to grow and thrive in life is every young person’s right,” says Clare Lane. “It’s our job to support and guide them to be the best they can be, by developing opportunities to allow them to build their confidence and resilience.” She’s a keen advocate of the Duke of Edinburgh award, so it seems likely there’ll be a few more participants in Stone in coming years.

See Crossroads Youth Club Facebook page, to keep up with developments. If you'd like to help support a great little institution, then please get in touch.

A word from London Stone

In the meantime, the last word goes to Steve Walley.

“As a company, London Stone is really socially aware. Our Landscaper Specialist Scheme donates money to Perennial, the welfare charity for people in horticulture, and Greenfingers, which builds gardens at children’s hospices around the UK. We’re actively involved in No Child Left Behind, which works to eliminate child labour in Budhpura, the cobble-producing in Rajasthan, and we’ve supported fund-raising for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“But this is a bit different. This creates a really personal connection between the company and the brilliant effort that’s being put into Crossroads Youth Club by so many people locally. We’re looking forward to continuing to support something that means a huge amount to individuals and the community as a whole.”

Find out more about how London Stone takes Social Responsibility seriously.