UK Youth, Records of

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of UK Youth (formerly National Organisation of Girls Clubs, 1911-26, National Council of Girls' Clubs, 1926-42, National Association of Girls' Clubs, 1942-44, National Association of Girls Clubs and Mixed Clubs, 1944-53; National Association of Mixed Clubs and Girls Clubs, 1953-61; National Association of Youth Clubs, 1961-87, Youth Clubs UK, 1987-2001) comprising minutes and other records, 1911-2013; photographs, [20th century-2000s]; annual reports, 1931/1932-2012/2013 (incomplete); and other publications and printed material, 1909-[2015]. Some items which were not created by UK Youth, but which relate to UK Youth are included. The majority of items date from the 1950s to 1990s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Youth UK has a long and diverse history, and was founded in 1911 as the National Organisation of Girls Clubs (NOGC). The organization however has earlier roots from two committees of the National Union of Women Workers' (NUWW) and from the Clubs Industrial Association. The NUWW's Girls Club Sectional Committee was the basis of the NOGC's Social Committee. The Clubs Industrial Association, an organization which had been previously detached from the Women's Industrial Sectional Committee of the NUWW, was the basis of the NOGC's Industrial Committee. The work of the Rest Rooms Special Committee of the NUWW also was taken on by the NOGC.

The original intention of the NOGC was to support clubs for girls and young women working in factories, whose work in industry was long and hard. Many of the clubs of the time were places of refuge for the girls and an essential means of support. Activities at clubs included crafts, reading, drama, music, singing, lectures and discussions. Such clubs had begun to exist since the second half of the nineteenth century. Members were also encouraged to take part in the running of their groups. Clubs could originally either affiliate directly with the organization or could affiliate through a union or association of clubs, most of which covered a specific local area. The organization also campaigned to improve the working conditions of the factory workers. The organization encouraged the development of new clubs and provided a variety of services to support clubs which developed over time including training club leaders, and producing publications and other resources for club leaders and members.

By 1919, 203 clubs and 20 unions of clubs were affiliated to the NOGC. Soon after, with a remodelled constitution, clubs were no longer able to directly affiliate to the organization but needed to affiliate through unions or associations of clubs. This arrangement continues to the present day (as of 2008) with clubs affiliating to local associations which are members of UK Youth. These local associations are independent organizations, which represent and provide services for the clubs in their area.

In 1926 the organization was renamed the National Council of Girls' Clubs. A number of grants were received in the 1920s and 1930s from the Carnegie Trust and the Pilgrim Trust. These grants helped the organization to develop physical training which was a popular activity and a major concern of the organization in the 1930s. The grants also helped the organization to organize camping and holidays. Holiday camps were established by the organization near Bognor Regis, Sussex (in 1933) and Filey, Yorkshire (in 1935). In 1935, a grant from the King George V Jubilee Trust helped to further extend club work through the country.

During the Second World War, there was a significant expansion of clubs, many of them for war workers who were often separated from family and friends. By 1944 the organization had changed its name to the National Association of Girls Clubs and Mixed Clubs to include the affiliation of mixed clubs. In 1953, it became the National Association of Mixed Clubs and Girls Clubs, as by that date the majority of clubs were mixed.

In 1944, three houses in Devonshire Street, London were purchased and one house was rented by the organization for conversion into a headquarters and London club house, which clubs from across the country could visit. Also in 1944, a large country house in Hampshire called Avon Tyrrell was presented to the organization for use as a residential centre, opening in 1949. A grant from the South African Aid to Britain Fund in 1947 enabled two further residential centres to be purchased: Kilmory Castle in Scotland (opened in 1950) and Kilvrough Manor in Wales (opened in 1951). These centres were used as places where youth clubs could go on holiday and for the various training courses run by the organization for youth club leaders and members. Kilmory Castle and Kilvrough Manor were however sold by 1970 and Devonshire Street House was closed soon after, leaving Avon Tyrrell as the sole residential centre run by UK Youth (though many of the affiliated local associations have similar centres).

In 1961 the organisation became National Association of Youth Clubs (NAYC). A major development happened in 1966 with the opening of a new headquarters and training centre for the organization called Devonshire Street House built on the site of the Devonshire Street houses. During the 1960s and 1970s, the organization also gained the support of a number of celebrities such as Cliff Richard and Jimmy Savile to provide publicity, to try to show they were in touch with youth culture and to support fundraising activities including a major fundraising campaign for the 1971 Diamond Jubilee.

The organization also set up Phab (Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied), a group for youth clubs with disabled and able bodied members. This originated from an idea in 1957 and it developed further during the 1960s with various Phab clubs set up across the country. Phab became an independent organization in 1974.

From the 1960s onwards, the organization had a growing interest in research and work with young people outside of youth club settings. This was called detached work, because the youth worker was not attached to a youth club. Various detached work projects were carried out across the country. This work carried on through into the 1970s and 1980s, and the organization had a growing interest at looking at issues affecting particular groups of young people including girls, the unemployed, ethnic minorities and young people in rural areas.

There were many administrative changes to the organization from the 1970s onwards. Most staff moved to new offices in Nuneaton during 1973 to 1974, and the Devonshire Street House offices and residential centre were closed in 1977. The organization moved again to Leicester in 1981, then moved back to London in 1991 (but to different premises) and in the 2000s the residential centre at Avon Tyrrell was designated as the organization's main headquarters although a London office is also maintained. The way the organization was managed was also dramatically changed in the 1970s to 1980s, with the number of committees and other governing bodies being greatly reduced. Economic pressures with cuts in government support and shortfalls in fundraising also led to a number of cutbacks in the organization and the number of staff was reduced as a result in the second half of the 1980s.

The organization however has from the 1980s onwards been involved in developing various new areas of youth work from the 1980s onwards including arts work, health education and a pre-learner driver programme. Its work has also become much more involved in addressing issues that affect young people.

NAYC became Youth Clubs UK in 1987 and finally changed its name to the present UK Youth for the organisation's 90th Anniversary in 2001. This according to the UK Youth website, was to reflect their "focus on the concerns, interests and lives of young people, rather than on any particular setting or meeting place". Its original role in supporting youth clubs however is still a major part of the work carried out by UK Youth. Its work on addressing the issues affecting young people today also echoes the work the organization had done in the past regarding the working conditions of girls and young women in factories.

Sources: UK Youth annual reports 1932 to 2001 (MS227/5/11/1)

UK Youth website (including Our History page) (http://www.ukyouth.org) accessed on 28 March 2008.

The Changing Face of Clubwork (series of articles from Youth Clubs magazine February-November 1991)

National Organisation of Girls Clubs Minutes 1911 to 1919 (MS227/1/1/1).

Arrangement

The collection is arranged by type of record

Conditions Governing Access

Access to parts of this collection is restricted. In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 some records which include personal data relating to young people participating in UK Youth projects are closed for the lifetime of the individuals where known, or 100 years. This is indicated at file level.

Other Finding Aids

Please see the full catalogue for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Director of Special Collections (email: special-collections@bham.ac.uk). Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Corporate Names