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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Crime-busting Wigton youth scheme back on track

The fight to keep young people off the streets and away from crime has been given a crucial cash boost.

Wigton youth station photo
High Sheriff Martyn Hart, who awarded one of the grants, with some of the youth station members

Wigton Youth Station has been running in the High Street for 15 years but there were fears earlier this year that the funding needed to run their range of programmes had dried up.

But the centre has just received two grants from the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, and the High Sheriff of Cumbria Martyn Hart’s Crimebeat fund to the tune of nearly £8,000.

It will allow staff to start their new You Can’t Catch Me scheme next month, to educate young people about crime, as well as continuing to operate.

Centre manager Angela Bicknell said: “We will be talking to the young people about what is the cause of crime, the cost to the community, the victim and the victim’s family.

“I don’t think they always realise what a crime is and the knock-on effect on the community.”

The new programme will delivered in weekly sessions and workshops involving the town’s PCSOs, criminal courts and youth offenders.

She added: “I just think we are a very rural area with limited job opportunities and poor transport links.”

Angela and the rest of her team are hoping that the new scheme will have the same results as a similar project that was completed in December, which reduced youth crime in the town by half.

Mr Hart handed over the £1,700 grant to the youth station in a presentation last week.

He said: “On both my recent visits to the Wigton Youth Station, I have been really impressed with the work that all the helpers were doing.

“The station provides a meaningful alternative to home, and a valuable break-out space providing a safe outlet as opposed to a street corner. Young people are learning new skills and a sense of social responsibility.

“I was interviewed by three teenage girls who asked me some very searching questions about my role as High Sheriff, which I was delighted to answer.”

During the presentation he also gave Carlisle-based charity Borderlines, which provides weekly angling sessions for young people who are unable to cope with mainstream education, a cheque for £2,126. Borderlines and the Wigton Youth Station regularly work together on projects.

The latest funding, combined with further grants from the Cumbria Community Foundation and Allerdale Council’s 0-19 fund means that the youth station’s future is secure until next April.

Mrs Bicknell said the latest set of funding approvals gave the centre the breathing space it needed.

“Luckily we were successful with a lot of the bids that were put in,” she added.

“Fundraising has been an absolute nightmare. I worry about it all the time.

“The thought of closing these doors for the last time is soul-destroying. The work we have done over 15 years is immeasurable.”

Wigton Youth Station’s Something for the Summer team are also gearing up for their annual festival tomorrow. The Big Top Youth Festival is being held at Hayton Castle, near Aspatria. Entry is free.

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