A safe space for Wigton’s young people

10th April 2018

Due to its location, many young people and their families in Wigton find it difficult to access the services they need on a daily basis.

This is partly down to transport links, but also due to benefit reforms which have led to an increase in the number of children living in poverty, and higher youth unemployment and youth crime.

Wigton Youth Station on the town’s High Street received a NMP Community  Fund grant £10,000 to help fund its Space for us! project, which provides a safe meeting place twice a week for young people to socialise, many of which are on the verge of criminal behaviour.

The sessions run on a Tuesday and Thursday evening and give the youngsters the chance to take part in a range of activities that develop their resilience, social and emotional skills and build their confidence. The group explores subjects like bullying, personal safety, drug and alcohol misuse, employment, positive relationships, cyber safety, child exploitation, healthy lifestyles and positive community involvement. They do this through art, fishing, outdoor and indoor activities, trips and residentials.

One young woman has made some remarkable changes. Angela Bicknell, Centre Manager, said: “Now 16, she has been attending for four years. Always the one in the background and on the edge of her social group, she has grown in confidence and is now happy to voice her opinions. We firmly believe this is because she found the confidence to attend our sessions even when her friends didn’t; being able to shine without them there has made a big difference. It’s lovely to see and she seems so much happier and content with who she is.”

Statistics from local police also show that anti-social behaviour is steadily decreasing as a direct result of the work that Wigton Youth Station does.

Angela said: “Lots of those who attend have difficult and isolating family lives, so these sessions offer a welcome break from that. We have close links with our Police Community Support Officer, who is a regular feature in our sessions. The young people now see her as a positive image in and out of the centre and negative feelings about the police are starting to change.”

Wigton Youth Station has been providing a safe haven for local people for 20 years and now has over 95 members.