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June 14, 2018

High Street Social Club is giving young people a place in the city

It's a training organisation, but not like you know it.

  • Pictures: Jason Smith and Nick Case

In a state with the worst youth unemployment rate in the nation, there are – curiously – very few, if any, training organisations specifically designing programs that resonate with young people.


For more information on High Street Social Club, or to get in contact, visit their website.

But, Nick Case didn’t know that when he started High Street Social Club. Instead, he had just come across an individual who needed a hand.

Nick Case – founder of High Street Social Club

Early last year, after working in a motorcycle dealership for 13 years, Nick found himself taking some time out to think about what he wanted to do next. He was spending a lot of time at BMX store Little Black Bike – learning to love the sport, and helping with some business advice here and there.

“A lot of kids hang out there, and some of them are on the dole and in some difficult situations,” says Nick.

“One day, one of the kids came in crying and saying he was going to get cut off the dole and kicked out of his house, so I went down to see his job network provider with him.

“It all snowballed from there.”

Even before that, Nick and his best mate Robbie McCormick had been talking about how little there was for young people to do in Adelaide – few events, and even fewer places to do things like make music or art.

As he sat in the job network provider, trying to work out how his friend could stay in training and keep his dole payments, Nick realised that he could address both issues with one idea – and High Street Social Club was born.

The organisation is a training provider that helps people develop what is known as foundation skills – things like appropriate communication and self confidence. But, it does this through the practical and relevant framework of putting on youth events.

“The main thing we want to achieve is get some events happening – get some kids engaged and get some kids helping out,” says Nick. 

“We’ve been able to do a pilot program thanks to the State Government and their Transition Pathways Project. As part of that we put on an event, with support from the City of Adelaide, for the opening night of Youth Week this year, with kids riding BMX at Little Black Bike and movies.”

An early High Street Social Club event – Wild in the Streets BMX jam

The board of High Street Social Club, which includes Nick, Little Black Bike owner Matt Hodgson, Kurt Whittingham, Jason Smith, Jack Meszaros and Con Karakitsios, have not previously worked in the training industry, and Nick says this means they’re bringing a fresh perspective to it.

“We’re thinking there’s different ways to use the infrastructure that exists,” says Nick.

“The most common thing when people are on the dole is for them to be put in to do a barista course or get their responsible service of alcohol, but then there’s still no opportunity for kids to actually get out and use those skills.

“So what we’re doing is a chance for people to get skills and then actually use them.”

Early attendees of the course – many of whom are referred to High Street Social Club by the very job provider that spurred Nick to officially start the organisation – have had success.

After going through the process of designing an event, organising licensing, managing risks, and promoting it, many in the course have demonstrated significant progress.

“Getting to know one of the people – Michael – has been one of the highlights of the course,” says Nick.

“We went cold calling to put up posters for the event, and he was absolutely terrified. But he really took it on – screwed up his courage and explained himself really well asking in this shop… and now, I said to him, you’ve actually done the same thing as going cold calling with your resumé. 

“The course has ended, but Michael still comes in to see us and for me, personally, and for the organisation as well, that’s heart warming. We’d rather have the tick of approval from Michael than from anyone else.”

In the long term, Nick and High Street Social Club dream of creating a permanent space with a multimedia hub, hospitality, retail, and – of course – skate and BMX facilities, where young people can receive training, practice their newly learned skills, and hang out.

That’s a ways off, but already High Street Social Club is creating a little more space for young people in a city where they can so often feel unwelcome.

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