On their own turf: Street-based youth engagement
Young people living across the Gorton and Pendleton estates in Manchester historically had very few things to do. With the exception of Church provision, a report Guinness Housing found that young people were being left to hang around in areas deemed unsafe for children, often showing signs of drug abuse activities or on one occasion, a burnt out car was found abandoned on the park.
The ‘Stay Safe’ project led by antisocial behaviour reduction charity, Mancunian Way, set out to tackle the issues that local residents raise, as well as supporting young people to make informed choices that improve their own life outcomes.
“In no way is this project trying to get kids off the street,” explains Mancunian Way founder and CEO, Nick Buckley. “Instead, we’re working hard to build positive relationships with young people by being visible in the areas where they want to be. It’s only then can we really start to make a difference to their lives.”
The Stay Safe team deliver two sessions a week in both the evenings and weekends at targeted locations and ensure sure the same youth workers are visible on the same days each week to help build key relationships and provide consistency.
The project is supporting conversations and guidance around personal safety, relationships, employment and more. It encourages young people to talk about the subjects that matter to them, to which the Stay Safe team can offer unbiased advice and also refer them a network of third-party agencies and organisations.
The two-year project is benefiting the entire local community by helping to improve quality of life by reducing youth related antisocial behaviour, the fear of crime and the negative perceptions of the young people there.
To date, Stay Safe has delivered more than 134 sessions comprising 402 hours. Through discussion and conversation, the Stay Safe team is helping young people to achieve a better, happier future by showing them the positive pathways that will lead them there.
“Our goal is to leave a lasting legacy across the neighbourhoods that we’re working in so that the future generations there continue to make better decisions and have better life prospects,” concludes Nick.