A key outcome of the Community Safety Strategy is that Young people will have increased opportunities to have their voices heard about the issues that affect their safety within the community, and within this I gave an undertaking that there will be ongoing consultation and engagement with young people through streetwork contact, youth surveys and through the formation of a Young Peoples Community Safety Focus Group. I have therefore spent time over the spring and into autumn being out and about pounding the highways and byways of Camelon and Tamfourhill. You may have read some of my earlier blogs highlighting the Cookouts in the Parks and the street-based sessions and some of the details about those conversations that I have had with young people at Nailer Road Park, Easter Carmuirs Park, at lock 16 and at the MUGA on Mariner Street.
Although I haven’t yet been able to establish a young people’s focus group, I have begun to analyse the youth survey responses and similarly collated the detailed recordings from the streetwork sessions. I am now able to summarise the many voices of local young people and highlight the main issues that have so far been confirmed through these engagement activities.
Let’s briefly look at the Youth Survey responses: I received 77 completed and partially completed surveys, 73% of respondents were between the ages of 12-18 years old, 51% were females, 47% Male and 2% stated they were neither. The important data showed that 73% of young people felt either always or usually safe when they were out and about in the local area, of concern however are the 27% who only either feel safe sometimes or unfortunately rarely or never. The important considerations for young people if they are outside and using facilities like MUGAS or the park are that there should be no bullying , 65% considered this to be either very or quite important , the locations should be light up and the facilities themselves required to be of a good standard with little mess or littering. The top five community safety concerns for young people were , and in this order of significance: 1: Gangs and violence, 2. Bullying, 3 Their Personal Safety , 4 Drug and substance use and 5. Alcohol. Young people sited three methods or places where they would want to learn more about these community safety concerns, and in this order, they were: 1: School, 2: In workshops with their friends and 3: In a youth group or club or 4: online through accessing websites.
A key consideration derived from the survey results for young people’s safety in the community is that outdoor activities or places where they meet up should be at light up locations and where there is no bullying and with these places having little mess or litter. Young people felt most safe when they were with friends they knew and trusted , thus strong peer relationships are a significant factor in young people’s perceptions and experiences of being and feeling safe throughout Camelon and Tamfourhill.
My period of street engagement was interesting and insightful and involved a wide and diverse range of discussions , I very much appreciated young people’s willingness to discuss issue openly and honestly and to give myself and colleagues respect and trust through these engagements. Some topics were of a very sensitive nature and some issues should be of concern to the wider community and other agencies. I noted on several occasions that young people lacked knowledge of certain issues like alcohol and substance use and were unaware of risk taking and the consequences of taking or consuming different substances for themselves and their families. There was no obvious source of support, advice, or places where they would feel they could access such services or support. A recurring concern highlighted in several discussions was mental health and wellbeing and a need for appropriate local support and advice Taking these discussions and survey findings I am proposing some areas of youth development. These provisional proposals are concerned with improving young people’s safety through reducing risk taking by providing new opportunities for young people to engage with positive and healthy activities, provide community development opportunities and enable young people to access appropriate support, information, and advice.
This is a provisional or draft set of proposals, and the details will need to be worked through, but its safe to say that future youth activity will be couched in a community development context and that community involvement will be underpinning any youth strategy. This approach will ensure that new youth activities are going to be driven by local community safety priorities and the aspirations of young people.
- There needs to be safe outdoor activity programmes operating throughout Camelon & Tamfourhill, the activities will need to be based upon young people’s existing interests and they will require to be supported locally so that they are long term and sustainable. In the first instance, through a grant awarded by the Camelon Sports Hub we will be piloting a Programme of Twilight Sports sessions which will operate on a Friday evening , after school and run into the early evening, will be targeted at 10-16 years old and will take place at MUGAS and parks in Camelon & Tamfourhill, the Pilot Programme will run from December to March 2022.
- Linked to the above proposal is the need to negotiate the involvement of young people at key locations with programmes of outdoor learning and personal development opportunities.
- Its critically important that we support young people with planned community development projects at Camelon Juniors Car park, Easter Carmuirs MUGA situation and other initiatives , they require an input and sense of ownership of emerging or developing community development projects.
- Establish youth information resources, support, information, and advice services for young people with a particular focus upon mental wellbeing and providing reliable information about personal risk taking. There may be potential opportunities to progress this with the support of NHS Health Promotions.
- Implement a programme of detached youth work throughout Camelon and Tamfourhill and to be focused on locations where young people are at risk of getting involved with anti-social behaviour and risk-taking behaviour, it should be targeted at 14+ years and be linked to support around substance and alcohol issues and the negotiation of activity programmes as described above.
- A young people’s Focus Group should be established which utilises youth friendly versions of the Place Standard Tool in order to carry out peer research and make recommendations for the development of local facilities and youth provisions. This will also provide valuable insight into young people’s aspiration for the development of their local community.
- Look for opportunities to establish a supported pathway for young people to get into employment and training and target those young people furthest away form the employment pipeline.
At this stage this is a direction of travel rather than a detailed plan, it is in part aspirational but is in the main deliverable. I would welcome comments and contributions and off course the involvement of local volunteers will be essential as will a buy in from statutory agencies and services in order to realise the different aspects of this youth focused community safety initiative.
I will provide details about the Twilight Sports sessions when we are ready to kick off the pilot project, hopefully early next month.