There is a period of transition for young people through adolescence to adulthood, where they are vulnerable, especially those who are not supported by their family. Tiverton Market Centre is open five days a week for 48 weeks of the year, giving local young people a safe, fun and relaxed place to go where they can also access essential support and advice.
Around Christmas time there is usually a big increase in the numbers of young people using the Centre, when problems can appear more exaggerated or poignant. Aiming to increase their safety and resilience, the advice offered covers a wide range of areas such as family support, legal problems, counselling, education, substance and alcohol misuse, young parent challenges, benefits, housing and employment.
Young people are our future and we are their future! So it is important that we support them in their dreams and aspirations and enable them to achieve their full potential. By increasing their confidence, self-esteem and motivation they are able to get back into school after long periods of absence, embark on training schemes or secure work. Ultimately, reducing elements of antisocial behaviour and promoting engagement with the community.
Building trust is a key factor. This takes time to build, but enables young people to feel comfortable enough to ask for help. It took over a year to build trust with one young person. The Centre worked closely with their local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) to establish the areas he was struggling with and those where he had an interest. As the relationship built they discovered he had been a keen and talented Hockey player.
Over time trained youth advisers talked to him about why he was struggling in school and encouraged him to talk to teachers to resolve these issues. Gradually he started to settle and focus in lessons and ultimately sat his exams with confidence. The youth advisers also encouraged him to reignite his passion and talent by taking up hockey again. His enthusiasm for the game has been re-energised and provided him with greater confidence.
But this life changing work is more needed than ever, and it simply cannot take place without funding. Thanks to a legacy left over 150 years ago Devon Community Foundation has been able to provide this vital support, enabling the Centre to continue to reach out to young people and offer this lifeline.
Nicola Evans, DCF Ambassador