1 - Yellow Door

Alex with Princess Anne

The archive approached Yellow Door for photos and details regarding The Princess Royal’s visit last week and Alex responded with loads of photos and the actual brief that was sent to Princess Anne. This is a very detailed account of the project since it’s inception and really does not need me or anyone else to add anything.

CYP Yellow Door works with young people between the ages of 11 and 25, especially those who are disadvantaged because of often interrelated issues such as learning difficulties; behavioural problems; family issues; poverty and mental health problems.

We aim to help them by offering a range of services and activities, which focus on young people’s health and wellbeing. The services include counselling, mentoring, small groups group work, outreach and detached work, educational workshops, and clubs. Our Clubs and activities including a performing arts group, youth club, youth club for ‘quieter’ young people and sports club. Within these services, we offer specialist support for drug and alcohol issues, social skills, and stress management.

Our aim is to enable the young people who use our service to develop the knowledge, life skills and confidence needed to make informed choices and to manage their sometimes very challenging life circumstances. In so doing, helping them achieve their full potential in education, employment, family life and society.

We were set up in 1992 by a small group of volunteers. For the first 25 years of our life, we were squeezed into two small rooms, (converted church hall cupboards).  While we managed this space; with the increase in demand for our services, particularly for counselling, it became increasingly difficult. During this time, other youth facilities closed in our area, which led to a large gap in provision of services particularly, somewhere for young people to go, to hang out; and socialise in a safe place and where they could learn and develop life and social skills.

In 2017, we were given the opportunity to lease a small run-down WRVS hall which we transformed into a Youth Hub, converting half the kitchen into two counselling rooms and the Dining Room into a friendly youth space. We used the Youth Hub for our existing services allowing them more space to grow and thrive but also to set up and run new projects, clubs, and services.

During lockdown we continued to support our young people through phone and online counselling, zoom youth groups, and detached work. As soon we were allowed we opened again for face-to-face work with young people. We were only able to do this due to our amazing hard working, skilled and flexible staff and volunteers.

We have always offered young people advice, information and support including practical support, such as food parcels. In 2008 during the economic crisis adults and families began to come to us for food parcels. Over time this service grew and developed into what is now a Food Bank. The Yellow Door Food Bank runs 5 days a week Monday to Friday from the Youth Hub between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

In 2018, we were approach by Cllr Peter May and Bill Dudbridge and asked to set up and lead the Canvey Food Bank. This is a partnership between churches and ourselves and involves working with supermarkets on the island, to provide food and redistribute food that would have gone to waste to those in food poverty. We were supported by Tony Roche from the local St Vincent de Paul Society, Tony helped us liaised with the supermarkets and set up and run a team of volunteer drivers.

From March 2020 to 2021 during the Pandemic the Yellow Door Food Bank distributed 3740 food parcels and other essentials to over 2369 individuals. It has been estimated we provided over 150,000 meals in total. We also distributing educational packs, sports packs, gardening packs and welfare packs. This was only possible with the incredible hard work of our staff and volunteers including Cllr Peter May who worked every day in the food bank and Bill Dudbridge who sourced food for us and bought a van to be able to collect it. Tony Roche had to self-isolate but organised pick ups and deliveries from his bedroom with a flurry of phone calls. Other churches in the Canvey Food Bank Partnership also worked tirelessly to provide food and support to the vulnerable during this time.

Our local Saint Vincent de Paul society worked with Edwardo and Ruth Sales Cezar whose restaurant had to close during lockdown to provide hot meals to families and the vulnerable.

Wyvern Transport a community organisation who usually offers transports to the elderly but could not do so during lockdown, stepped in and supported us. They picked up food from the supermarkets and delivered it to Yellow Door. Our volunteers and staff packed the food and then Wyvern delivered it to those in need.

St Nicholas Church, ran a Pop-Up Food Bank throughout lock down and continue to do so. It is open every day, including Christmas Day and all Bank holidays.

Our local Salvation Army had been supporting Canvey Resident with food parcels for many years. They continue to support Canvey Residents by opening their foodbank every Thursday morning.

The Salvation Army Hadleigh Farm Estate acted as a hub and food distribution centre supporting 1000 of individuals during the pandemic throughout Essex. When Yellow Door needed to free up space to allow young people back in the building, Salvation Army Hadleigh Estate with Wyvern Transport took other the packing and delivery to vulnerable people. This allowed us to continue with the drop in food bank and open for youth clubs, activities, and face to face counselling.

We could only supply food to those in food poverty, isolated and vulnerable because of the amazing support we had from the whole community including our local Supermarkets.

St Peters Church, in Benfleet collects and delivers food to us every week. The Canvey Methodist and residents provided hundreds of presents for children over Christmas. Canvey Fire Station set up a collection point for the public to support. We were supported by McDonalds, local cafés and restaurants, businesses, and local people. This list of the support and generosity seems endless and made a time which was deeply difficult for everyone, just that little bit better.

Alex Dobinson, Manager of Yellow Door.

Photos to follow

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