Somerset House Day Trip with Drive Forward

More than skating at Somerset House

Drive Forward Foundation took a bunch of us “big kids” on a lovely day trip to Somerset House. The goal: Don’t break anything!

We were scheduled to all meet at 11am, but, as it often happens when arranging a date with us young adults, some of us needed a bit of extra time to make their way into London and we wound up leaving at noon.

This extra hour gave myself, Jamie and Kay, three strangers, a wonderful opportunity to become good friends. During our talk we were able to discuss our goals, what we wanted to achieve as part of New Year resolutions, and all things teen. During our chat we discovered that Kay wanted to try and quit smoking, Jamie will be making her own prom dress, and I just want to be rich!

When the posse finally met up, we made our merry way to Somerset House, and before hitting the ice, had a quick lunch in a stunning glasshouse which was in fact one of Somerset House’s cafés.

A lovely lady called Verity, who works at Somerset House, welcomed us and gave us a quick tour. At the moment, Somerset House is hosting an exhibition called Good Grief, Charlie Brown!, featuring the dog we all love, Snoopy.. If you remember that show, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you are old. However outdated the characters (launched in 1950 to be precise), it was still a fun, childlike and a playful exhibition, which is something that can never grow old. The exhibition showcased all the characters, how the conception for the series came about and a lot of information about the creator, Charles M. Schulz, himself.

At the end of the tour, we snuggled up on bean bags in a cosy cinema room and watched an episode of Peanuts. It was so touching to see how the show portrays our everyday struggles through infants, they are innocent, pure beings and as they went through their little trials and tribulations. It helped me realise that all you need in life is an amazing group of friends. 

A classic episode of Charlie Brown

From the cosy beanbags, we then made our way back outside, into the cold, but that’s when the falling fun began: ice-skating!

Onto the ice

I was so nervous. I didn’t even want to go onto the rink. I’ve never ice-skated before in my life, neither did the majority of our posse actually, except for Jamie, who glided gracefully over the ice; and Elijah who still somehow kept falling – some pro 😊 We all managed to pluck up the courage to go for it and it ended up being not as bad as our minds made it out to be. Another amazing lesson I learnt, ‘fear is all in your head’.

To end off the sweet day at Somerset House, five people working for Somerset House presented their specific job roles and day-to-day work to give us an overview of different career paths within the industry as well as a better idea of how to go about landing a job. It was a fantastic career talk and we were all very interested and engaged with what the professionals had to say. Jodi-Ann was particularly excited by these opportunities as Somerset House would be the perfect place for her to kickstart her career in the creative industries.

A successful bonding experience 

Now, right before we left, we were drawn into a dispute provoked by a stranger. Whilst we were standing around the table listening to young people working for Somerset House speak, a woman sitting next to us made negative and disgracing remarks about our group. The reason why she felt like she had to throw names around is, in all honesty, unknown to me. However, one of my friends got really upset, taking this woman’s awful comments personally, even though my friend knew that she did nothing wrong. Seeing her discomfort, we tried to dissolve the situation, explaining to the woman that we meant no harm and that there was no reason for her to be angry. As she didn’t stop making dismissive remarks, we decided to report the incident to available staff. We were amazed by how understanding they were and how they swiftly dealt with the situation, reiterating that the kind of behaviour displayed by the woman was unacceptable and would not be tolerated at Somerset House. Thank you, Somerset House, for stepping up for your values.

What this incident brings to the forth is that us big kids, who all met that very day for the first time, cared for one another, and so instinctively, we stood up for each other. I’m thankful for days like this, as they allow us care leavers to connect, be ourselves and have a great time. It’s truly a breath of fresh air because it helps us to not feel so alone in our individual and unique walks of life. What a day!

Joy Millani is a writer, journalist and London blogger. visit her website

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