Locations

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Where we operate

SECOND CHANCE HOUSE…

Formerly our admin offices and headquarters it is found in Portsmouth on the south coast. With good road and rail links and airports nearby it is easy to get anywhere in the country or indeed the world from here and we find it as easy to service and support our activities in those parts as anywhere. Portsmouth itself is also very interesting and is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. This brings about its own set of problems and keeps us very active within our own area. We live in client land! The Charles Dickens Ward that our offices are based in was in fact in a recent survey rated the third most impoverished ward in the UK! Our building in Somers Road is very important to us and we were pleased through the good offices of the Hadley Trust and The Unity Trust Bank to be able to purchase it from our landlord back in 2005. Inside this building we have a number of facilities and activities. We have been delighted in recent years to support and encourage The Faith and Football Charity, run by its founder and former professional footballer Mick Mellows. We have given office space to them and they use some of our facilities there for their clients in The City, clients we often share, if not in person then in character!. It is sometimes used during the day as a temporary alternative to school, for those excluded or unable to attend school as part of our ‘Back to school’ scheme, most notably supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. There is the drop in Play Scheme for parent and toddlers "Mucky Pups" and we have some of the best facilities in Portsmouth for this. Our Edward Davis Room is used by the local community as well as ourselves for meetings, lectures, musical rehearsals and even sleeping accommodation occasionally!! It is a three floored building and the lower floor or cellar is being converted for use by our Creative Arts Centre, we are busy converting practice rooms and installing electronic equipment for rehearsals and practicing as well as teaching. Our second floor has a dance studio and general area for rehearsals, teaching and sports activities, the Parent and Toddlers. We provide a variety of services which include but not exclusively, parenting classes, debt counselling, legal representation, educational and social training, personal counselling, advice and general advocacy work. The main thrust of work is done by volunteers who become advocates for the young people and in so doing establish themselves as family friends who have advice and skills to give or services they can tap into. In many cases they are simply providing what in days gone by would have been provided by a functional and extended family, but today is sadly lacking.

 

SECOND CHANCE COTTAGE, FINLAND…

We have a cottage in Finland courtesy of Kotka City Council where we take small groups of children to for a week at a time. The cottage is featured elsewhere in this website both in the gallery and by way of news reports. The cottage is situated beside the Baltic Sea in the middle of a forest. It is a ‘wilderness experience’ for the inner city children of the UK. Children who most often have never left their own city boundaries, never flown, never been in a foreign environment. Enjoy sunset fishing in Finland at midnight. You may well imagine they suffer some disorientation and confusion at the opportunities the environment presents to them! It is when this confusion sets in that we find the confident street wise youngsters from the UK are happy to listen to the Volunteers and staff of Second Chance and we are able to ‘duck under the radar’ and penetrate their minds and confidence and achieve results that would otherwise take months and even years to achieve back home. It is a very valuable resource to us. It may seem somewhat ostentatious to have a facility in Finland but it has to be said, we can still be at our cottage quicker and for about the same price as to a centre we sometimes use in Scotland! Where else could they walk on the sea in the winter and get sunburnt in the same place in the summer!


THE SECOND CHANCE RURAL CENTRE…

Perhaps our most valuable resource is the land we own at Fontley, a village midway between Southampton and Portsmouth. Back in April 2007 we discovered that 27 acres of land was for sale about 15 minutes outside the Portsmouth City boundaries. Running through this land was the River Meon, a well-known chalk stream in the south east. It also featured a further carrier stream and three lakes. We realised a dream when we were able to purchase this and had a countryside home of our own. A Farm on one side, a Nature Reserve in the Middle and The Garden Centre and Offices the other. It is truly remarkable the effect the countryside has on our inner city children, especially when engaged in rural pursuits of fishing, camping and working with animals and nature. The facilities are used by the local youngsters on a daily sometimes hourly basis and by the further afield young people as a residential facility, in the summer. The use of the land is now the centre piece of our activities and the range of activities includes fishing, camping, horse riding, maintenance work, river keeping, small farming activities and husbandry, nature studies, ornithology and wildlife watching. The list is set to expand, but the effect on the children is already significant. It gives us all a chance to get inside these youngsters and help them. It is most often when in this environment that the young people reveal their secret thoughts and concerns and it is then that we can help them the most. The main limitation on using this facility was the winter - we had no shelter to accommodate the young people. We were, therefore, delighted when the opportunity came along to buy the adjoining Garden Centre and nursery 'Solent Nurseries'. It took us a while but with the generous support of several trust Funds and many individuals we were able to purchase the old Nurseries and we are presently engaged in converting them to our purposes. We will shortly re open the Nurseries where the children are growing their own plants and raising their own fish and selling them themselves in the shop onsite, keeping the profit. This mini enterprise philosophy is so useful for our children, especially the ones who are highly intelligent but who leave school with no meaningful qualifications and will have to rely on their own initiative to earn a living. We have recently moved our administration to the offices at this site and have just completed building a new storage facility here for all our machinery and equipment for all our activities both here and elsewhere. Boats we use on the Solent are here, camping and fishing tackle it’s all here. The most exciting thing to happen on the new site is the plans we have to build a fishing lodge at the point where the new site joins the old site. We are busy fund raising, as this is written, to build a log cabin that will have residential accommodation in it as well as other facilities to extend the use of the Nature Reserve and Farm throughout the winter months and into the summer as well. The site also has some other practical uses as well, we make benches and tables out of reclaimed wood again with the help of the children, they grow Koi Carp in our tanks and sell wood for log burners. We have also recently branched out into Bee Keeping, giving us both a retail and natural experience for the children.



TRAVEL AND VISITATION…

We also organise and engage in some activities outside our principal sites. We sometimes travel as guests to various other fishing and interesting venues. Educational visits such as to the zoo or museums, Theatre, dockyards and other interesting things occur. We run residential weeks at Sun Parks holiday centres in Belgium where homes are rented and we live as a family for a week, showing the young people how a family can function. With the young single mothers it is sometimes a residential to show them in an intense way opportunities and possibilities for looking after their children. We are fortunate enough to have the facilities of Whitmuir Hall in the Borders area in Scotland, known by the children as ‘the posh place’ but again the opportunity for social and personal education is huge during a residential of this kind. We have several boats that we use for fishing and sailing in Portsmouth and Eastney Harbours and out into the Solent and Isle of Wight. It is true however the most valuable resource of all is the time of a caring and interested adult in the life of a young person. Nothing is achieved without this so our volunteer network that runs to over 100 people now is our most valuable asset! Many of these people now well into adulthood, were once young clients of the charity themselves; they make the very best volunteers and encourage the rest and make it all worthwhile.

Fishing on the bank

““You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him”...James Miles”

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