Local Face: Peter Swinford

I was born and grew up in Banbury, Oxfordshire. I have loved sport since an early age, as it has passion. My two main sports are cricket and golf which I play regularly, especially in the summer.

I went to University of Bedfordshire to study Sport and Exercise Science and stayed on to study a masters in Sports Performance. After University I struggled to find a full-time job in sports performance and the opportunity came up to go to India for 6 months working for a charity called Pro Sport Development. I ended up staying for 2 years working in eastern India in a city called Bhubaneswar, Odisha. I ran and developed a community sports program which trained local coaches to go into slum schools and deliver a sports curriculum focusing on developing key skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership as well as educating the young people on key issues including hygiene and gender equality.

To date this was one of the best experiences of my life, and from this stemmed the passion to continue to help and support young people back in the UK.

From this I set up a youth organization with a friend called Empowr-U in Coventry that works to engage, inspire and empower young people aged 7-21. I ran this for 2 years while studying to gain a youth work qualification. We ran youth clubs, holiday camps, youth events, mentored sessions and delivered projects in schools.

These two years were very challenging but extremely rewarding; they showed me the power of youth work and how, as a youth worker, I can help inspire, support and guide young people to achieve their goals.

I needed a new and different challenge so at the end of December I decided to leave Empowr-U and was successful in attaining the Lead Youth Worker role at Wendover Youth Centre.

I have been in the role since January 2020 and my role as Lead Youth Worker is to deliver support and grow the youth activities in the communities of Wendover and surrounding villages. The welcome from the community has been fantastic, and I have enjoyed my first few months in the role.

At the Centre we have continued to deliver a range of activities for young people aged from 6-18 years old. This includes a youth café, youth clubs, drama clubs, sport as well as working with John Colet School to deliver assemblies, transition sessions and 6-week workshops with young people who suffer from low self esteem and lack of confidence.

We had planned to run our annual Youth Festival in July, however due to the COVID-19 Pandemic this has been postponed. We still hope to run the Festival later in the year, as it is a key event for the Centre and young people of Wendover.

The last month has been challenging for the Centre during the pandemic, however this has not stopped us supporting young people and the community. The Youth Centre is running online youth club sessions via Zoom each week, alongside running competitions and supporting young people with social action projects to support the community including a Pen Pal and Food Parcel scheme. It has been a great success and has helped the young people connect with their local community, which I see as one of the main aims of the Youth Centre.

Personally, I look forward to the challenges ahead and continuing to engage and support the young people of Wendover.

As a centre we are constantly adapting our activities and opportunities depending on the restrictions and the situation with the pandemic. For more information on our youth activities, or if you are keen to volunteer and support the Centre in our work, then please email me at peter@wendoveryouth.co.uk. You can also contact me through Wendover Youth Centre Facebook page.