31 July 2023

At age 12, Rachel Davey moved to the rural village of Broadclyst and discovered YMCA Exeter’s Youth Club, almost literally, right on her doorstep!

Now 18 years old, Rachel kindly met with us to chat about how YMCA Exeter has supported her. We take her to Exeter’s Chococo Café – after six years at Youth Club, we know she is a big fan of hot chocolate!

Rachel, how did you hear about YMCA’s Broadclyst Youth Club and when did you start getting involved?

I had just moved to the village and had made friends with a girl down the road who went to Youth Club. I had gone to a youth club in the village I lived in before, but it sadly had to shut down. I was unsure about going at first, but it just became part of my routine – and my four siblings came too! I would get there every Thursday, buy a £1 pound bar of chocolate from the tuck shop, melt it in the microwave and eat it with a spoon!

What was your experience growing up in a rural area like?

The only friends I had were people at school, and our school was small – only a couple of hundred students. It was quite difficult to find stuff to do during free time, there was nothing to do in the village apart from go to the park. Youth Club was one of the only fun things to do close by, it was right behind my house! Otherwise, it meant a bus trip into town.

How do you feel regularly attending Youth Club helped you during your teenage years?

When I joined the older youth club, we had more grown-up talk. I remember we had a session on mental health and reviewed all these wellbeing apps and it was so helpful to know these were available. Some of these apps I still use today. Youth Club also gave us opportunities like learning to cook and bake together.

And how did you find getting to know the Youth leaders like Becky and Martha? Did you enjoy having the YMCA interns get involved too?

It was nice to get to know the leaders and the interns, especially to hear about their home lives and where they are from. I think I’ve met 6 interns during my time at Youth Club. It was always so nice having another adult who you know you can go to rather than a parent.

What are some of your favourite memories of Youth Club?

One of my favourite memories at Youth Club was doing an escape room – that was so much fun. We also used to play exploding kittens. I’m such a big board games fan and there’s never enough people to play a board game with! We also talked about the environment and made flower bombs and terrariums in a jar – mine lasted for ages!

What opportunities did Youth Club give you that you might not have otherwise had?

One-to-one support. Schools fail to give you that support when you’re a student who is good and well behaved. I had a lot of stuff to deal with as my mum has Huntington’s disease. I was put into mental health groups when really I just needed somebody to talk to.

What’s next for you and how do you feel like Youth Club has set you up for future?

Youth club has taught me a lot of life skills, made me feel more grown up and helped me accept I am an adult. We would talk about university, which my parents don’t like talking about, so youth club gave me the opportunities to talk about important things like this.

I currently work two jobs in Exeter but my boyfriend is applying to Falmouth Uni to do music, so we are hoping to move to Falmouth together soon – I love the beach and I love swimming and I really want to learn to surf.

Would you recommend attending a Youth Club to other young people?

I would absolutely recommend going to a youth Club. Thanks Becky and the team for supporting me all these years and for being so kind. It’s been a really positive experience and helped me in so many ways.

To find out more about our YMCA Exeter’s youth clubs, head to: Find children’s, youth and family activities – YMCA Exeter