My Week

Neil Monaghan, operations manager at the Archway Project

Neil Monaghan
Neil Monaghan

Monday A day in the classroom. Some of our young members aren't in full-time education, but they can gain a qualification in motorcycle mechanics with us. The course is accredited by the Open College Network London and is equivalent to a National Vocational Qualification Level 2. Some young members and a few staff, including me, are taking part in a race at the weekend and we need to prepare our motorbikes, so we stay late. It's the first time these members have taken part in a competition, so it's really exciting.

Tuesday An early start - we've got a ride on today. I need two coffees. We generally organise three rides each week and take a group of members out to teach them how to ride motorbikes off-road. This is the carrot that keeps them engaged. It got me hooked: I attended Archway as a kid from the age of 14 and it kept me out of trouble. I go home tired, covered in mud and in need of a bath.

Wednesday I really enjoy cooking - the highlights of my day tend to revolve around food. We run a lunch club every day in which members choose what they want to cook on a budget of £1.50 per person. We take the group to the supermarket to buy ingredients for lunch. Because it is almost Christmas, they cook up a pukka roast with all the trimmings from scratch.

Thursday I have to send a young person home today for hitting another member. Banter and joking are common here, but physical violence isn't and it affects the rest of the group. We're dealing with vulnerable young people who have behavioural and emotional problems, so it happens sometimes.

Later, I attend a trustee meeting - most of the board are new and I want to get to know them. I go home thinking about the member I sent home and how best to deal with the situation.

Friday We want to put posters up in local schools and colleges to get kids to come along to our evening community groups. A friend suggests that I approach graphic design schools to get the poster done on the cheap rather than use a professional designer.

After work, but before the pub, I head into central London. My wife works for a charity and her colleagues are helping us with our new website. They're full of ideas at our first meeting. We couldn't do a lot of what we do without the help of volunteers.

- The Archway Project helps disaffected teenagers in London to build skills and confidence by repairing, recycling and riding damaged motorcycles.

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