The gap* was founded in 2008 by Charlie Clayton and Steve Silverton. Coming from church backgrounds, they saw a need in the community for youth provision. The charity’s name is grounded in its ethos of bridging the gap that isolates marginalised youth from hope, understanding and support. Their ethos has “fundamentally stayed the same, but The gap* has evolved over time”. “Irrespective of their current circumstances, backgrounds or situations”, as their Mission Statement says, The gap* have a heart for investing in young people who are marginalised in society.
This support is channelled through three core areas being engage, identify and invest. Connecting with youth through different avenues and projects, The gap*s work includes ‘Out There’ involving the team going out into the community and starting conversations with young people, to reach out and engage with them. Zabrina doesn’t deny that this can be intimidating, but she makes it clear that The gap* operate by being honest with young people, and breaking down boundaries that can divide younger and older generations.
Zabrina’s heart for her work is clear; she empathises with the struggles of young people, celebrates her flourishing relationships with particular individuals, and offers insights into the ways we as a community can support marginalised youth. Her personal journey saw her working in retail for many years before feeling led to work with youth, despite not having previous interest in this area. It was a slow and gradual development to where she is today as manager of The gap. It began with engaging with youth at her local church, leading to a certificate level in counselling, to searching for a work placement and being introduced to The gap in 2016. Zabrina’s focus at the time of joining was with Headspace, another project that focuses on youth mental health. Through work in schools and independent sessions with young people, Headspace volunteers build relationships with students and young people to support their mental wellbeing and offer a private, safe space for them to explore their feelings and challenges. Zabrina’s journey into youth work is an inspiring display of discovering new skills and the positive impact you can have in the world if you follow the direction that your values and heart take you.
The Venue is another point of contact with young people. It’s a drop-in area, open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3.30—5.30pm. It functions exactly as the name presents; undemanding and informal, whether a young person is cold, bored, looking for someone to talk to or not, or simply wants a hot chocolate – which Zabrina assures is amazing and made lovingly by Christine – how much or little a young person utilises the space is on their terms. This is in line with helping develop autonomy and responsibility within young people as The Venue is “their space which [The gap*] facilitate for them.” Through this, staff and volunteers have the opportunity to build conversation and rapport over time. Activities such as Gap Gaming and the in house recording studio facility are also engaging resources that the Venue contains.
The gap* are oriented around individual relationships, and relating to another person. “Let’s love each other and be kind” is a message Zabrina upholds. As a Christian organisation, unconditional care and support underpins their work – marginalised young people can often feel undeserving of that, which is why The gap* work to form consistent relationships built on these values, so that young people can grow and develop knowing that they are believed in. When asked what the community can collectively do to help bridge The gap themselves, Zabrina says “meet them where they are”. This means seeking to understand them, taking an interest in their lives, not devaluing their anxieties or challenges. Overall, there is no one or simple answer to a question involving wide social change, but as Zabrina says, it’s about “working together to figure it out”.
Zabrina highlights the brilliance of her team for how special and strong they are, describing her whole journey with The gap* as “one amazing experience”. The gap* believe in the positive difference that helping just one young person will have in the world, because they are our future. The gap*s work, regardless of project or team changes, will always have young people at the centre, as Zabrina affirms, “we have a heart for young people” and “where they move, we move with them”.
To get in touch with The gap*, you can call, email or write to them. All details are below:
Zabrina (Manager and Headspace Coordinator) 07599 912670
Laura (Senior Youth Worker and Mentor) 07462 306177
George (Youth Worker and Mentor) 07565542976
Our Place Support Hub