Pie Factory Music in Ramsgate is celebrating its 20th year of providing free accessible music and creative workshops for young people across East Kent.
Pie Factory Music works with under 25s and specialises in working with those in in care, young people with disabilities, and those who face emotional and social difficulties.
The charity, which also runs a service in Dover, has worked with 50,000 young people over its two decades of existence, held 167,000 workshops and gained £5m in funding for the youngsters of east Kent.
In an age of ever decreasing provision for youth services, Pie Factory Music is an oasis for youngsters needing creative outlets but also pastoral care.
Two of the young people who attend Pie Factory Music are 15-year-olds Lois French, from Birchington, and Miles Greagsbey from Ramsgate.
Lois said: “Before I came here I was being bullied. At Pie Factory I made a rap, recorded it and had fun with music.
“When I was bullied I got called horrible names, it made people think I was a horrible person but coming here gave me a fresh start. You can just be a nice person, you aren’t having to stick up for yourself.”
Lois has been attending Pie Factory for around 18 months and says it has given her the chance to meet people and just have fun.
She said: “You can just be who you are. I like volunteering and I do an acting club on a Tuesday, we are preparing a quiz night for December 10 and doing a sleep outside to raise money for the homeless.
“I’ve loved it. Before I came here I never thought I would do volunteering but it has been amazing,”
Miles has also been using Pie Factory for around 18 months and agrees that it gives young people a fresh start.
He said: “I had some struggles and was recommended to Pie Factory as a coping mechanism. I did go to Quarterdeck but felt out if place.
“My mum eventually convinced me to give Pie Factory a go so I went to a Monday session.
“Walking in I saw (staff member) Louis and he introduced me to more people and that was the moment I realised it was not the same as other youth clubs. It isn’t structured so you can choose whatever you like to do.
“I like sports so we would go and do some football. Now I do volunteering as a staff member on Tuesdays and on Thursdays I am a volunteer staff member with juniors and I still go to the Monday session. I feel that my confidence has increased massively.
“It has saved my reputation. In Year 7 I struggled a lot but at Pie Factory it is a fresh start.”
Pastoral care is a core part of the charity’s work and grew significantly during the pandemic from food and self-care packages and vouchers for low-income families, to sessions in schools and a counselling service.
Managing Director Steph Dickinson said: “We have spent the last couple of years during covid really thinking about who we are and our values.
“We have really seen an increase not only for our creative sessions but also pastoral care. Our creative interventions are helping young people who can’t access other things and we have realised that what we do is so much bigger then just access to music, it’s about lives being changed, fundraising, raising our profile and making sure Pie Factory is still here to support young people.
“This year is about having a party after everything we have all been through.
“Our big dream is to be here for another 20 years.”
Pie Factory held a celebration last night (October 19) with invited guests including former members of the youth club and music performances from youngsters. There will also be a large gig before the end of the year with DJs and young people performing.
Young people can find out more by heading to Pie Factory Music’s social media channels:
Email [email protected] or call 07746916240.