Chorley’s Inspire Youth Zone is to send outreach workers to outlying parts of the borough in an attempt to attract young people from more remote areas to become members.
A consultation will be carried out across the ten wards with some of the lowest membership rates to find out what can be done to increase engagement with the town centre facility, which recently celebrated its first anniversary.
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More than a third of the under-18 population of Chorley has joined the youth zone, helping to achieve almost double its target to attract 3,000 members within the first twelve months.
However, membership rates fall as distance from the town centre increases. More than 45 percent of young people are youth zone members in Chorley’s most central wards, but that figure dips to just five percent or less in the farthest areas of the borough, including Eccleston and Mawdesley and Brindle and Houghton.
Chorley Council has committed £12,700 to fund the outreach work and a meeting of the authority’s cabinet heard that the reasons for reduced membership in more remote areas might not be as obvious as they seem.
“While we need to look at transport [issues], there are other barriers to membership,” Bev Murray, cabinet member for early intervention, said.
“It might be that young people [in the outlying areas] are not looking towards Chorley [for activities]. It’s about offering a whole package of engagement,” she added.
The meeting was told that police had noted a drop in anti-social behaviour in town centre areas since the youth zone opened. Following the consultation period, youth work projects will be delivered within the target areas for up to eight weeks – with the aim of bringing similar benefits to all parts of the borough.
“A lot of the villages do have facilities [for young people], but don’t have the wherewithal or the pizazz that the youth zone has – they seem to have a knack of dealing with hard-to-reach young people,” council leader Alistair Bradley said.
“I have spoken to youth zone members who have had some fairly chequered pasts, but have turned themselves around – and it’s not the space of the building that did that, it’s the people they are working with.
“That [work] can be as easily done out in places like Eccleston as it can at the youth zone.”
Speaking after the meeting, Janine Blythe, chief executive of Inspire Youth Zone, welcomed the council’s latest investment in the project.
“As a charity working to ‘inspire’ and shape the futures of Chorley’s next generation, we want to do the best we can for young people – and so we are delighted to be asked by Chorley Council to work in areas across Chorley to engage with young people where they live.
“The finer details have yet to be agreed, but expect to see the Inspire Minibus out and about in villages all across the area over the coming months. If you do – pop over and talk to us!”
WHERE WILL THE OUTREACH WORKERS BE?
The target areas for the youth zone’s outreach work are:
Adlington & Anderton
Brindle & Hoghton
Chorley North East
Chorley South West
Lostock (Eccleston, Mawdesley, Croston)
Wheelton & Withnell