Mitcham youth scoop £61,000 to fund activity bus

Seven teenagers in Mitcham are celebrating a successful bid to the youth opportunities fund for £61,000, which will fund Merton’s first mobile youth activity bus.

Lara and Del Bakich, Brook Wooderson, Kyle Taylor, Toby Cox, Tom Ruddel and Hollie Sfluskey identified the need for a mobile youth activity bus in Merton when they started working with the council’s detached youth team in November 2009. The group wanted to find a way to make youth services, information, activities and advice more accessible to young people in Merton and came up with the idea of a mobile youth bus.

The activity bus is set to hit the streets of Merton this summer. On board, young people will have access to laptops, information about sexual health, learning and career opportunities and events, music mixing decks and recording equipment, and Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wiis for entertainment. It will also serve as a space for young people to relax and discuss the issues that affect them.

Yvette Stanley, director for children, schools and families at Merton Council said, “For a number of reasons, some young people can feel intimidated about visiting youth centres outside their area. The activity bus will be an effective way to bring youth activities, services and information to young people who don’t have the benefits of a youth centre in their immediate area.

“These young people deserve recognition for all their hard work. Our detached youth team supported them through the funding application but ultimately the young people led the process.

“This project will bring benefits to all young people in Merton and I’d like to thank each young person involved, for the initiative and commitment they’ve shown to making Merton a better place to live for youth.”

Lara Bakich, 19, one of group of young people who applied for the funding said, “The presentation was the most challenging but the research took a lot of time as well. We even visited Bournemouth to look at the different types of vans, different interiors, features, colours, sizes, prices – everything. It was a great experience and we really felt proud of ourselves when we found out that we got the funding.”

Del Bakich, 16, another young person in the group said, “This experience has taught me that if I want something, and I work hard enough for it, then I can get it. Now we can’t wait for the bus to arrive for the summer.”

The Safer Merton Joint Tasking Group will also contribute £20,000 towards the operational costs of the activity bus which will hit Merton’s roads this summer.

Notes to editors:
The aim of the youth opportunities fund is to improve the provision of positive activities for young people, by giving them the power to decide how this funding should be spent in their area. For more information visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/youthopportunityfund

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