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News > The Bradfield Club in Peckham > Daniel Campbell: My journey from Bradfield Club attendee to Club Manager

Daniel Campbell: My journey from Bradfield Club attendee to Club Manager

The Bradfield Club in Peckham was established in 1912. The current premises was purchased in 1928 in memory of Old Bradfieldians and Club members who had perished in the First World War,  to provide the young people of Peckham with a safe place in which to exercise, learn, eat and find individual support. 100 years on, the objectives of the Bradfield Club remain unchanged, but we realize the challenges facing our young people are more complex than in the past and the social economic hurdles they encounter hit them earlier in their lives than in previous generations. But thanks to our fantastic youth team, our amazing volunteers, generous partners and supporters, the Bradfield Club continues to provide that safety net for young people and the wider community.

My first experience with The Bradfield Club (TBC) was as a 12-year-old in 1999, when my friend invited me to join him there one evening. At that time, Peckham was a very rough place and the Club sat directly in the territory of a local gang named YPB (Young Peckham Boys). The Club was busy, people were playing football, table tennis, snooker and plenty others were just hanging around and chatting amongst themselves.

Many YPB members were also present that evening - and what struck me was their behaviour whilst in the Club. They respected the staff and building, they didn't bully other club members and most importantly, they seemed to be having so much fun. For a gang with such a notorious reputation, it was amazing to see them in a space where they were free to be the young people they were. Not that he attended The Bradfield Club, but Giggs was a key member in YPB and has gone on to become a worldwide star in the music industry. Not only paving the way for kids from Peckham but kids all over London who make Gangster rap music. Giving these kids an alternative is so important.

After my first visit to the Club in 1999, I am sad to say that I couldn’t visit again for nearly a year. Whilst I lived close to Peckham in East Dulwich, the journey to the Club was full of potential dangers. I knew a few people from Peckham but was still very wary of encountering people that I didn't know – firstly because of the local gangs operating in the area, but also of neighbouring gangs who would visit the area looking for enemies to start fights with. Street robberies for mobile phones, bus passes, and even expensive clothing were very rife at the time. I grew tired of only being able to visit the club when I was with people from Peckham, so I went to local Clubs in East Dulwich for a couple of years instead.

When I left school in 2003, I started to hang around with people from Peckham a lot more. For the next couple of years I would frequent the Club a few times a month, meeting new people, making friends and getting to know the staff members. Shortly after that, I stopped attending any youth clubs and got wrapped up in street life. In the early months of 2008, I decided to leave the street and try to do better. I discovered that working with young people was my calling and I was prepared to do anything to make that dream a reality.

My first youth-related job was in Lewisham where I volunteered once a week for a few months before becoming a full-time Youth Worker and in 2010, I took up a job at the Bradfield Club. A couple of years later, I progressed to a Community Development Worker – responsible for wider-reaching youth-work initiatives - and shortly afterwards, around 2017, I took over as the manager and I haven’t looked back.

For me, the Bradfield Club stands out from other clubs due to the safe space that has been created here by staff members. Kids feel safe coming to the club after school and during the evenings despite the club being situated in such a dangerous area and they badly needed the respite from the trouble outside the Club doors. It's well known locally that gang-related behaviour will not be tolerated at the club and we don’t have any gang members at the club, however, we do have gang members who receive support from staff on a one-to-one basis. The staff create this safe space through the strong relationships they have with the young people and their parents in the community and the Club has a real community vibe, it is very much a home away from home for those who attend.

My ambitions for the Club are to

  • Continue providing a safe space for young people
  • Provide opportunities that may not be accessible outside of the club, like residential and day trips
  • Partner with more organisations to increase the activities and support we can offer to young people.
  • Assist young people in choices regarding further education and careers
  • We are also considering providing alternative provision for young people who are struggling in mainstream school.

I like to go by the saying 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'. I like to think that The Bradfield Club is providing support for the kids who are at risk of joining gangs or living a street lifestyle of drug dealing, knife-crime, robbing, and committing fraud and providing them with an alternative way of living that is more appealing.

If you have been inspired by Daniel’s story, there are many ways to get involved with the life-changing work that is done by The Bradfield Club, be that partnering, volunteering or making a gift, visit their dedicated The Bradfield Club website for more information. The Club are also looking for new trustees, if this is something that would be of interest email bradfieldsociety@bradfieldcollege.org.uk and we will pass your details on to Chairman of the Trustees, Nick Sansom

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