G White provided the forum with an update on the work of the YOS IMPACT Team in the Wigston area since February 2015.
The IMPACT Team work with young people at risk of committing, or are committing, ASB with referrals often made to them via the JAG meeting. Since February the team have been working in Wigston around the McDonalds/Junction Road area where there are reports of youth related ASB regularly being made on a Friday and Saturday night.
To work toward reducing the level of reported ASB a working group was set up which includes representation from the IMPACT Team, OWBC, the Community Action Partnership, Voluntary Action Leicestershire, Stars, the Police and local residents and businesses (El Cafe).
One of the first tasks to come out of the working group was the implementation of a consultation with the young people frequenting the McDonalds/Junction Road area. This consultation provided a snapshot of the youth provision desired by a small group of disengaged young people. The majority of those consulted (90%) stated they would use a ‘youth cafe’ if one were set up in the area. 40% stated they were interested in participating in music workshops, another 40% stated they would like to see provision that includes cooking and sporting activities and 30% would like to see an arts & crafts project developed.
These responses helped shape the diversionary activities that were then delivered over 12 weeks using El Cafe as a base. Jane Morris from the Boulter Crescent Community Flat put forward some funding towards this 12 week project to allow it to go ahead. Additional funding for furthering the work has also been proposed by McDonalds however this is yet to occur.
The IMPACT Team has also delivered ‘Building Positive Relationship’ training to McDonald’s staff. The training includes basic working with young people advice and ‘de-escalation’ techniques and was well received.
Between April and May the IMPACT Team also ran a 6 week sports project on Willow Park, Wigston which culminated in a football match versus representatives of the local policing unit. This project ran on a Wednesday evening and regularly attracted 50+ young people.
Between 1 December 2014 and 20 February 2015 there were 10 reported incidents of youth related ASB around the McDonalds/Junction Road area. This figure dropped to 9 incidents between March and May and dropped again to 5 incidents between June and August. Other diversionary activities, such as additional football and basketball session organised by Kane Radford, OWBC’s Physical Activities Development Officer, and seasonal trends (cold winter nights dispersing young people) will also have contributed to these reductions.
The IMPACT Team will now be moving out of the Wigston area in the near future although the working group will continue to meet, undertake a needs analysis and develop additional youth provision in the area. As part of this the working group will be looking at increasing its engagement with local schools, developing joint funding opportunities and increasing the use of existing facilities in the area.
G White went on to talk about how the Youth Offending Service is in the middle of a restructuring exercise and how this is likely to effect the IMPACT Team. The restructuring exercise is the result of the YOS budget being reduced by £60,000.00; this will result in reductions to both staffing levels and hours across the County although the consultation exercise relating to the restructure is still ongoing.
G White stated he is happy with the outcomes from the work undertaken in the area and that is could be viewed as a “mini success story”.
Members stated that the IMPACT Team could, in view of the coming budget cuts, be viewed as “victims of their own success”; this is due to the team having reduced the amount of ASB present meaning the demand for the team is not as high. Members posited that the increase in ASB the area had recently seen could be attributed to the lack of projects for young people.
Members then enquired as to how the IMAPCT Team could be brought back into the area. G White replied that the IMPACT Team’s presence in the area was due to a referral that, due to the success, was now closing and that to have the team return another referral, with demonstrated need, would need to be made to them.
Members expressed a sadness that “County Hall doesn’t want to invest in young people” and wished “that this Borough could be responsible for its young people”. “This is a time to build on success and not cut budgets.”
A selection of additional sources of funding for the working group to look into were suggested by members; these included the Wigston Traders, the Sainsbury Trust, the Rowntree Trust, the Bourneville Trust and crowdfunding. It was also suggested that other businesses in the Bell Street area are approached to support new projects for young people.