The Swift Centre was built in the early 1920s with a gift from a Miss Swift. It was intended to provide a place for young people in the former London county boroughs of West Ham and East Ham. It was the venue for the youth work of what was then West Ham Central Mission.
Much of the work in the early part of the twentieth century was done via uniformed organizations, scouts, guides, boys brigade and girls brigade. Indeed the Boys Brigade company continued until 2000. This was then superseded by an open youth club, currently we run four nights a week which includes a Sunday family club.
Some of the current youth work has continued the program of the BB company. Thus the annual camp continues in a very similar format and is a place for new experiences, new challenges and for fun. Approximately half of the volunteer staff at the club and the camp are adults who were members of the BB and GB.
We have developed the outdoor activities so that we now run a number of weekend camps throughout the year; our Bike Europe and Bike Newham programmes engage young people in cycle maintenance, cycling days and weekend expeditions.
We have extended our sports and dance program to develop a night focussed on performing arts and continue to use sport as a means of engaging young people.
We run a number of overseas work camps as a means of giving new challenges and broadening horizons of club members.
It is a part of our ethos that activities are a means by which we develop relationships with young people because it is in these relationships that young people can develop their own self understanding. It would be true to say that the youth clubs and activity sessions are where we begin our work, it is not where it ends.
Our long term aim is to redevelop the Swift Centre building to bring a building from the 1920s into the 21st century.