Youth taking advantage of service’s new initiatives

DOZENS of teenagers in Ponteland are benefiting from a range of activities organised by youth workers.

Twice a week, up to 30 young people from the area spend time with the Northumberland Youth Service in the youth block facility and this year, groups have undertaken participation work, an enrichment initiative and the National Citizenship Service (NCS) programme among other schemes.

The 2013 figures up to end of November show that 182 young people have accessed the service in Ponteland and 106 are involved on a regular basis.

A youth fund has been introduced to give school students some assistance with their costs as they develop a particular skill or in a sport, for example a grant has been awarded to a young person who operates at a national standard in swimming. This is being supported by Ponteland High School.

And local teenagers are taking advantage of the £100 challenge – an entrepreneurial scheme that allows young people to try out schemes they design to make money. Any profits they generate can be keep for their project.

The annual youth service information was recently presented to Ponteland Town Council by Ashley Brown, Senior Area Youth Worker for West Northumberland.

In his report, he said: “As well as providing a range of activities, the lunchtime sessions at the youth block also raise awareness of other events they can access through the youth service, both in Ponteland and a wider context.

“In addition, a number of young people gain support surrounding issues such as relationships, sexual health advice and information, drugs information and cyber-bullying.

“Our evening sessions have worked well on occasion – a free hamburger at a summer barbecue is a great way of attracting young people.

“Friday night football sessions are going well at Ponteland High School. Average numbers are about 15 to 20 per week and the young people appreciate the opportunity and behave accordingly.

“A group of young people have been working with Ponteland Medical Group and Changemakers to support its surgeries in going through their NHS ‘You’re Welcome’ accreditation.

“This involved coming up with ideas to make GP surgeries more effective and welcoming to young people and helping to implement them.”

Mr Brown is running part of the enrichment initiative for groups of pupils at the high school interested in subjects such as outdoor work in the community, health and social care. Its elements include the John Muir Award, volunteering accreditations and drug and alcohol support awareness.

The NCS programme that young people from Ponteland completed involved taking part in two residential experiences and a social action project.

The youth service west area’s year has also included a number of trips such as to Alton Towers, a karting centre and a youth hostel in Berwick for a residential experience.