Monday, 24 February 2020

Henley Rotary Club

AN inspiring talk on the work of Nomad, the Henley youth and community project, was given to members, their partners and friends at their meeting held at the Red Lion Hotel last week.

The speaker was Jaco Bruwer, who was brought up in South Africa and came to this country 15 years ago. After working as a personal trainer for 14 years, he became a youth and family officer for Nomad.

He explained how people often asked how a place like Henley had families who felt isolated and in need of help, both financially and socially, but that in fact Nomad was necessary.

The organisation was started in the Eighties, running out of the d:two centre in Upper Market Place. The aim was to provide support for children, young people and families at a grass roots level.

Among its many activities are running a food bank (it provided 65 parcels to needy families last month) and mentoring students at local secondary schools who have behavioural and substance abuse problems.

It runs life skills courses in schools which cover self-awareness, self-esteem and awareness of the effects of social media.

Other activities include trampolining, mountain biking, five-a-side football and mentoring at the YMCA.

Nomad has regular contact with the local councils, schools and the police and works with social workers and Citizens Advice.

Another activity, in which Jaco is involved, is being among youngsters at the Henley skate park.

Whilst he has only been with the Nomad team for 10 months, some of the senior members have been with the organisation for 20 years.

Jaco emphasised that success with problem children could not be achieved in the short term, citing the case of one who was mentored from the age of 11 but took a long time to turn the corner until eventually being accepted for university entrance at age 19.

Mark Harling gave a heartfelt vote of thanks and president Barry Prior added his thanks before presenting Jaco with a £500 cheque to Nomad from the club.

John Luker

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