History of RUSH 2The DEN
I didn't take the decision lightly to open RUSH 2The DEN, I knew Rushden needed something special for our local children and their families, but didn't know exactly what that would look like.
After research, sole searching time consideration I began the preparations, in January 2014 started to look for premises with the idea of starting a youth club. I set about the background organisation, wrote policies, gathered the right volunteers to head the different ages of youth club.
During visit to a local café in February, whist working on the Youth Club planning I watched parents, their children in buggies, for two hours while chatting to their friends and thought it hasn't got to be just a youth club it's got to be available for little ones too… Somewhere Adults can have a cuppa with friends while their little ones learnt through play. Tots and Adults, Inclusive of grandparents, dads, childminders and of course mums.
The first challenge was finding the right premises, found a premises that I thought would be a good idea situated close to the town centre plenty of free long stay parking easy access to the car park reasonable sized rooms, then persuading the owners to allow me to rent it took much longer. They kept changing their mind as to whether they wanted to sell the building or let me rent it.
The Landlords finally agreed to enable a shared rental of the building with a dance group that were the only other users of the hall (Wednesday evenings). I got the keys and within a week, had organised the launch, set everything in motion for the Launch of the charities and with a small team, cleaned the premises from top to bottom, inside and out.
I overcame the setup solo, organising all of the volunteers to start the youth clubs, the policies, persuaded the key governing volunteers, most of whom are still with us today.
We opened the doors on 28th June 2014, Affiliated with NAYC Northampton Association of Youth Clubs and was awarded with Best New Youth Club 2014.
Although RUSH 2The DEN got off to good start with youth club, The first three years were harrowing for the Tots.
I manned the Tots solo or with one or two additional volunteers when numbers increased, subsidising the costs personally as other local children centres became selective, targeting families, reducing their availability to all non-targeted family opportunities. People became sceptical of the children’s centre especially one that was an independent.
2015 NAYC bestowed the positive participation award to Nina Robinson as the founder and Manager of RUSH 2The DEN as a combined entity.
NAYC the awarded the presidents cup to youth club in 2016.
It took three years for Tots to come into its own, then in 2017 just as we were really starting break even with numbers coming through the doors - Devastation in the form of given a letter from our building landlords with a three month purchase or vacate order.
It felt like the rug had been pulled from under us.
Having looked for alternative premises and finding none in the area that were suitable, no mortgage available because it was used as a children's charity, we were lucky to have given being given a gift to be able to assist with the purchase of the building. RUSH 2The DEN was saved...
2018 RUSH 2The DEN was again awarded the community involvement award.
COVID then decided to strike in 2020 which closed our doors to the general public for both tots and Youth Club sessions. It felt like the end.
When Lockdown started, I looked at all the craft items we had amassed during the few years we had been going, donations of items people didn't have use for, crafts sets we were planning to use, and decided to do something. It was eery working alone in the hall. RUSH 2The DEN diversified to ensure that the young people in our area continued to be supported along with their families. I compiled fortnightly craft packs to start with from whatever we had available for youth club and tots, the first packs were hand delivered, fully covid compliant.
Then the lockdown extended, social media suddenly took off and requests for the craft packs came flooding in. I carefully planned and put together craft packs hand delivering them on push bike to ensure the safety of the children during the very harrowing epidemic to give light and hope to the families that were locked down.
A couple of our volunteers helped to gather food from the local supermarkets daily and the building opened in strict compliance to the ever-changing covid rules to enable families who could not get their shopping delivered to come along and collect food free of charge. We teamed up with the local British Gas and Anglian Water engineers who were sitting idle in their vans unable to go into people’s homes. They assisted us to deliver 25 to 30 food parcels daily to those families in need and isolation.
It became clear that families with young children were desperate for clothing. Swap shop, originally a monthly option prior to the pandemic, became a daily availability and families would phone to ask for suitable times to be able to come and swap clothing for their ever-growing children.
As soon as we were able to reopen, we organised bubbled groups of parents and toddlers or parents and newborns. Weekly bubbled groups of no more than six, as per NYA rules and government stipulations. This was a logistical nightmare, but worth it! Those that came in signed an agreement that they would only bubble with those that we put together. It was a lifeline, especially for these new parents with babies born within lockdown.
2020 Rushden Town and Serve bestowed the Susan Hollowell award for volunteering on ‘River’
Winners of the Northamptonshire business Excellence Awards in 2020 and finalists for SME’s National Business Awards, business hero category gave RUSH 2The DEN a much needed boost of morale.
Post covid we reopened both youth club and tots and adults. The children were apprehensive, adults too.
Some tots had been isolated within their family environment and were petrified of other children and adults around them. Slowly their confidence grew so did the number of attendees. This proved to be another challenge. Some of our volunteers, as with other volunteer organisations found it too hard to return to the volunteer life, scared of children, crowds and some unable to sustain the additional stamina of a longer day away from home.
RUSH 2The DEN was awarded Northamptonshire Community Foundation awards in 2022 and the SMA business elite awards 2023 for Northamptonshire’s Best Independent Children Centre
With the addition numbers struggling with the financial crisis we are now enduring, the monthly swap shop and the daily food donations is once again essential. We are still seeing an increased amount of people requiring that extra support.
As with all charities, we do our fair share of fundraising, this is getting harder and although we enjoy Christmas time and we do our Christmas raffle, we also compile helping hands hampers we aimed to give 25 this Christmas and ended up with 37 because the demand was so high.
We've become a donations hub especially for toys at Christmas time and other opportunities for families in the area if somebody is moving away they would let us know that there is a three piece suite available for a family, for example, and we will regularly find a home.
Now, 2024, RUSH 2The DEN have the honour of being nominated for The Kings Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award available to voluntary organisations in the United Kingdom.
RUSH 2The DEN has close links with our local Town Council, Rotary, Inner Wheel, Round Table and our local Princes Trust Team. Social workers, health visitors, midwives, local schools and other organisation signpost to RUSH 2The DEN.
Given its 'inclusive policy' no young person will be denied access because of affordability and sensitive arrangements will be put in place where and when necessary to enable our special events to be attended by all.
We run throughout the school holidays closing only for Christmas week and Bank Holidays.
We are a place where you are welcomed with a cuppa, juice & biscuit. where you can relax and enjoy your quality time with your little ones, build a support network & chat with friends.
Every day is different!
RUSH 2The DEN believes in 'Inspiring young people to achieve'. We exist to support young people’s development, offering opportunities to gain, increase and develop skills, knowledge self-awareness and confidence, and enabling them to make positive and healthy life choices through our wide range of programs for children from birth to young adults of 17 years with an extensive program of baby & tots sessions during the school day and evening Youth Clubs through the week for different age groups.
We work closely with East Northants Child Contact Services, the local social services NC trust to enable children to see their adults safely in supervised contacts. We don’t shy away from individuals challenges and challenging situations, supporting families with CIN meetings and EHCP’s
We hire the hall to families for weekend children's parties to try to assist with the running costs of the hall so as not to put pressure financially on the two charities.
Support groups such as Nexus and Connections foster carers, childminder meet up
Ukrainians were supported to enable their English language and English cultural lessons to assist in their integration into their new country.
We are a hub for local families anything that they feel that they need we try and assist them with.
Groups are added as it as the need becomes evident such as our SEND groups freedom (Primary) and Freedom Fliers (Senior) and Aegis (LGBTQ+) support groups.
It is challenging managing a team of volunteers. After everybody locked down and found their newfound relaxation, quite a few volunteers felt it too difficult to come back out into the world and volunteer again.
If you haven't noticed, we all have RUSH 2The DEN names rather than our own personal names; most of us are from the local towns and therefore it's nice for us to be personable without being personal hopefully then having a little bit of a personal life too when we go out.
Tots work on a seven-week rota for all of the different types of activities for tots and each team with youth club works within a team for age-appropriate activities running on the same theme as tots for easier purchasing of materials. Our leaders are interchangeable between tots and youth club and vice versa to be able to work as one big happy family to try and support our community best we can every volunteer is DBS checked and it doesn't matter whether they drop in to help out for a couple of hours a day once a week a full day oh more often that all part of our leader team.
Youth Club not only have an evening for each age range but we enjoy camping events and other opportunities. We progress through the year from a stay awake, because they're not really staying away from home they're having fun all night, the International Waendel Walk Weekend challenging our young people not only to hike over the full weekend and then progress to an annual greenfield camp enjoying the true outdoor opportunities that young people sometimes miss nowadays. Our older age ranges (11+) have the opportunity of fortnightly weekend rambles, and a week-long challenge week, where they have endured walking across the country from west to east along Hadian’s Wall, Snowdon, Atlantic Challenge and even a local 100 mile challenge after Lockdown.
We have British Canoeing Coaches on our team and affiliation to Northampton canoe and kayak club to enable the young people from youth club to partake in canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
We support every town event that's available to us throughout the year.
Have an extensive range of holiday clubs to keep things going for our youth club aged young people and give them more opportunities at an inexpensive way for their parents, these include cooking, creative crafts, a daily trip, sporting events and crafty fingers.
RUSH 2The DEN are open every day except bank holidays and two weeks over Christmas when we maintain the hall floor and building. Oh! and our grotto has a fantastic Santa who says personalised messages when needed for children at hospital.
During our annual maintenance we realised a ‘dip’ in the hall floor, when attempting to fix this we have realised a rotten floor support, which is currently being replaced by one of our amazing volunteers around times when the hall is not in use.
After COVID our unseen challenge was reconverting our small space from a storage facility back into a working youth centre. We are still struggling with storage issues as we have diversified and grown with the challenges presented to us by our community to help them the best way we can, hence everything on wheeled trolleys to ensure fluidity and maximum utilisation of the space available.
We rise to the challenge… every single one!
It seems like yesterday that we opened the doors with just a handful of tots coming through on the 28th of June 2014 this year will be our 10th birthday we survived COVID. We overcame the building trying to be sold from underneath us.
Our newest challenge therefore is to fundraise, to gain planning permission to expand in to the void of space between our suspended ceiling and the apex of our roof enabling double our capacity, yet reducing the heating costs introducing additional workable efficiently heated space with energy efficient solar panelling. This is our next future goal. Our next challenge… to be able to serve our community further.
RUSH 2The DEN is a unique place run by very dedicated DBS checked volunteers.
RUSH 2The DEN Building is Non-profit Community venture housing 2 local charities:
RUSH 2The DEN Tots & Adults - 1172562
RUSH 2The DEN Youth Club - 1175976