Reaching out to young people
A pilot project has been launched with the aim of steering young people away from trouble and on the path to a more active, positive lifestyle.
The RUSH project is running sporting and creative activities for socially excluded young people in the Witney area who could be at risk of getting in trouble at a later stage.
West Oxfordshire District Council’s Leisure department has been working with a network of agencies, groups and schools that have an interest in young people to develop the project. All the agencies are contributing time and resources to the project.
It has kicked off in Witney with weekly football sessions for teenage girls, run by a professional female coach from Oxfordshire Football Association, which is based in the town. Witney’s Base 33 youth charity, which works closely with socially excluded and hard-to-reach young people, is part of the project and girls who attend the centre or are involved in its work have been attending the sessions.
Further activities involving other partners are being developed and will be set up to cater for a range of interests.
Cllr Hilary Biles, West Oxfordshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Health and Young Persons Champion, said: “There are young people who, for a wide range of reasons, are more likely to get involved in activities such as anti-social behaviour. This is an intervention project which aims to give them the chance to learn and develop new skills, build confidence and hopefully give them alternative interests which may encourage them to engage in positive, rather than negative, activities.”
Young people in Witney have played a key role in assisting to develop the project and activities. Partner agencies are helping to identify which young people will benefit most.
Base 33 Manager Jude Levermore said: “We are very pleased to be involved with a project that specifically targets socially excluded young people and it’s great to see so many agencies working together and sharing the same vision. The young people who come to Base 33 have been enthusiastic about the project and, while there are many factors that influence their lives, we hope this will help to make a difference.”
One of the girls aged 15 who has been attending the football sessions in Witney said: “It’s really good, I look forward to it every week.”
The Council and partners will be monitoring the project. If successful, it could be rolled out to other areas in West Oxfordshire. The project is funded by Oxfordshire County Council through its Chill Out fund and supported by partners.
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