I'm Toni, I'm 27 and I'm from Hemel Hempstead. I am the chair and founder of a registered youth charity which helps young people to prepare for independent living. Our charity is quite new still (formed in February 2018) and we're looking to expand by opening a soft play cafe.
The Youth Booth Soft Play Cafe will offer parents of 0-5 year olds an intimate venue that provides freshly prepared, wholesome foods in a very clean environment. The Youth Booth Soft Play Cafe will offer young people the chance to gain work experience (whilst offering a fair wage) and we will support local businesses by stocking local produce and home made products for gifting such as locally made chocolates, candles and greetings cards.
The Youth Booth soft play cafe will be an extension of our registered charity and all profit made will feed directly back into the charity which funds our youth projects, educational and recreational trips and community initiatives.
The idea is that the income generated by the cafe will help to fund the charities activities and overheads so that we can continue to expand and help more young people across the town.
More about The Youth Booth - Registered Charity
I have two daughters aged 2 and 6. When my eldest was only 6 days old, my uncle Luke took his own life.
Luke had a tough upbringing. He came from a poor family of seven. When he was nine, his dad (my granddad) died in front of us and by the time Luke was nineteen he was an orphan. Not long after that he became homeless and turned to a life of drugs and crime.
My dads side of the family, have always been extremely close and the impact that losing Luke has had on us all has been truly devastating. Luke was only 27 years old at the time he took the overdose and we found out later the same night that his girlfriend was expecting his baby (Luciana, now 5).
After a while of grieving, I felt I needed to do something productive. I felt that if Luke had more support through his own grieving process and encouragement to achieve his potential, he would still be here today.
I went on to get a job with Hertfordshire County Council as a youth worker where I worked for several years.
Whilst on Maternity leave, I kept receiving correspondence informing that due to budget cuts, my job may not have been secure. Sadly, I had already seen a lot of local youth projects shut down in the area and seen the young peoples disappointment in losing their projects.
In February 2018 I found two willing candidates to join my mission and we formed an unincorporated association (a legal form of charity), we held our first fundraiser a month later and opened our first youth club on May 2nd 2018 (which happened to be Luke's 32nd birthday).
To register as a charity you have to raise £5,000, we hit this goal quite quickly and we received our official charity status from The Charities Commission England in June 2019.
In the meantime we have recruited a further five trustees and seven volunteers - all of which dedicate a lot of time and hard work to the charity today. We run four youth projects a week, a weekly litter pick, educational and recreational trips and workshops.
We've been really grateful to have received donations and some small grants so far but the hardest part of our job is bringing in enough money to continue our services, and without any continuous funding it means time we could be spending bettering our services is heavily spent on grant admin.
If I have missed anything, please feel free to get in contact as i'd be only too happy to answer any questions you may have: Toni@theyouthbooth.com