Devas Club receives major grant from government Culture Recovery Fund
The Devas Club, serving young people in Battersea for more than 100 years, has been awarded £50,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Devas, founded in 1884, is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country which received urgently needed support from a £257 million funding package as part of the continuing CRF grants programme, run through Arts Council England.
Devas has built up strong drama, music, dance and arts programmes, serving the needs of hundreds of young people in Wandsworth and neighbouring boroughs. In order to sustain them the trustees are now considering how best to extend and develop these vital contributions to local youth services.
The dance studio has been refurbished recently and the club is proud of its state-of-the art music and recording facilities. In recent years, some of its members have gone on to win awards, perform locally, and gain national recognition in talent shows.
The chair of the Devas Trustees, Andrew Griffith, said: “This is a major boost for us. It helps us protect the range of our arts activities – dance, music, creative art, and above all drama. We are very pleased to be able secure this outreach work for young people – many from disadvantaged backgrounds – across our catchment area.”
The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:“ This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country.”
The chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:“ This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”
Four months in lockdown kept our doors closed to members and prevented us from running events for a while, but we are pleased to be back. Devas Club is open for our summer activities for young people.
Wandsworth Council, in collaboration with local young people, launched the ‘post-lockdown’ summer programme. The aim is to encourage and uplift young people to participate in safe, socially distanced events over the summer holidays.
Devas is now ready to welcome its young members back starting with our summer activities . As the photos below show we have taken measures in line with Government and Council requirements and now finally, we are all set to go.
It has been four long months. But we now look forward to hearing the sounds of laughter and chatter, the pounding of feet and swish of sports equipment and the notes of our music studio once again. After all, that is why Devas is here.
Devas Club is committed to equality for all. We are eager to break through historical traditions and we champion the voice of young people. We continuously encourage each other to ask those uncomfortable questions, to challenge racism head on and to stamp it out for good.
The club sees itself as a safe space where young people can meet, have open discussions and can share ideas in a free, fair and secure environment.
We accept the responsibility as a leading youth organisation, to be an example of unity & strength. Please join us, as we stand against racism.
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Schools are closed and physical exercise is only possible with family members. Devas Club is offering these sessions in hip-hop dancing, intensity fitness training and yoga to improve the wellbeing of young people.
“ Youth clubs help to keep young people busy and engaged – and off the streets where so many dangers lurk. Now the streets are off limits, we decided to do our bit to reach out to young people, to keep them engaged even though they are stuck at home,” explained Mark Clay, who is Senior Youth Worker based at the club.
The weekly sessions include: Yoga on Monday, fitness sessions on Wednesday, and dance sessions running on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. We also have a young artist music support group who also get together for a couple of hours via WhatsApp.
“We have offered such a range of activities from our multi-purpose building in Stormont Road since 1970. Once it was boxing and archery, now it is driving skills, muay thai and music making. We were just not comfortable with interrupting our service,” added Mark Clay.
Feedback has been positive. Members of the music group have been saying how much they miss their regular visits to the Devas studios and spending time with their pals. “Can’t wait to come back’” said one. “So good to keep in touch,” said another.
A parent rang in to express their gratitude. ‘I am very happy that you guys have managed to find a way to stay in touch with young people, so many of whom may be feeling down at the moment. I’m particularly thankful that you are still able to support my child who has been missing Devas during lockdown.”
The hope is that after lock-down is eased, those ‘hooked’ on the online activities will be keener to return the Club, or newcomers will, in person, want to visit the Club – which has been running activities and providing opportunities for young people aged 8-19 years old, sometimes for those up to the age of 25, from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We know how important it is to keep young people active, engaged and inspired,” said Andrew Griffith, chair of Trustees. “For this reason, it made perfect sense to us to launch our own calendar of virtual activities for young people and their families during these times.”
The Club’s mission is providing opportunities for young people. The schedule of online activities maintains that sense of purpose, to help young people stay active, creative and inspired.
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View the live events calendar at www.devasclub.org/whats-on
For more information, or if you would like to get involved please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information our Administrator Tony Brown on email@example.com or 0207 223 0297.
The famous dining Hall of Oxford University’s oldest college – adorned with portraits of its famous alumni, including many former Prime Ministers – played host once again to a lively party of young people from the Wandsworth area.
In March, before our lock down struck – a party of 30 Devas members, coaches and trustees from the club in Battersea, South London, spent the day in Oxford mixing football, fun and a bit of history, and warm hospitality from University College, cutting across social, educational, economic and class boundaries.
This, now annual event, links the Club founded in 1884, to provide fresh opportunities for local, often disadvantaged young people with the University College – founded in 1249 to educate the finest of English minds in the best medieval monastic style. They are linked in the memory of a graduate who had begun working with young people in South London, but then died in a climbing accident on Mont Blanc. His family generously set up the club in his memory.
The Devas group were welcomed with a generous brunch in the University College’s Great Hall, and introduced to the college and the plan for the day under the watchful portraits of former British Labour PMs Clement Atlee and Harold Wilson, plus Bob Hawke PM from Australia and Festus Mogae, President of Botswana.
A more direct connection came in the portrait of Lord Goodman who was head of the College and chair of Trustees of the Devas in the 1960s, well known as Harold Wilson’s Mr Fixxit. The portrait of Lord (Robin) Butler, for many years another Devas trustee and another former College head has now gone to the newly named Butler room, but that of Sir Ivor Crewe, current Master, also a trustee, and our host for the day, has taken its place.
After brunch, the group were led on a tour of the college quads, library, chapel and the memorial to poet Percy Shelley, by College ambassador Cleo Kwan, and former Univ graduate John Dineen, who has taken a job in the city but also volunteers supporting activities at the Club, and came up with visiting party.
Members then headed to the football pitches to change for the matches. Here the two Devas teams came into their own, though we spectators were treated to somewhat more enjoyable and competitive matches than the final scores tag lines might imply.
Our women’s team proved swifter and niftier and stronger than the Univ team, which after all is still only in its early years of development.
The half time score stood at 9-0, but with some positional adjustments and judicious refereeing from, Dave Crilly, who serves as coach to several women’s teams in the south London area alongside Devas, meant the final score was officially recorded as just 9-2. Dave applied the off-side rule particularly ruthlessly and as we know that can always be a bone of contention.
The men’s match was always enthralling, engaging and highly entertaining, and the Univ team battled to the very end – and on several instances came close to scoring, none more so than in the final minute, when a decent cross needed a sound header but instead it was nodded straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
The final score was officially recorded as 10-0. We can though still recall with no little joy the 4-4 draw a few years back, when Univ equalized with the last kick of the game !
The trustees then hurried back, accompanied by Sir Ivor, to review their club business, and in particular to discuss ways of refreshing and maintaining links between college and club, also given that a new Master, Baroness (Valerie) Amos, is set to take over in the autumn.
Trustees were then able to hurry down to the College bar, where Devas and Univ players were already tucking into chilli con carne with coke or beer (for those allowed), and mixing over billiards and darts, before the Devas team headed back home.
Dr Paul Flather, Devas trustee since the 1980s and an Oxford Fellow since the 1990s, who coordinates the matches, shared some thoughts: “It is true that the scores suggest Devas teams were rather stronger on the pitch over their Oxford counterparts. But this really did not mar a great day out, an annual highlight in the club calendar.”
The players of the match were also announced with Mark Coyle, the Devas captain, in the men’s match who both scored goals and kept his team members playing together and driving on to score regularly, despite having a lead. In the women’s match it was the Univ captain, Katie Chamberlain, who put in a plucky performance, again encouraging her team to continue battling on even though many were meeting teammates for the first time on the pitch.
“There was excitement watching contrasting footballing tactics, and the Devas Club members loved the experience of eating in an Oxford college hall.” Dr. Paul Flather added. “But most of all it was about raising expectations and mixing with students and new people. I am sure the Oxford students also found it valuable to mingle with other young people whom they may not meet regularly.”
Sir Ivor Crewe, the Master of Univ, also a Devas trustee, said: “These matches are indeed now a fixture in our calendar – even if we now struggle a bit on the football pitch. This is an important and historic link for our College which the students greatly value. It reminds us as a college of the great historic traditions of Oxford working with the settlements in London.”
As members and club staff and supporters boarded the bus home in the High Street outside the imposing façade of University College, happy with their performances and all they had experienced, it had clearly been another good day’s outing to Oxford.