24/7 youth centre push continues but no location yet

2570 24:7 centre crowd 350By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The group aiming to set up a 24/7 youth centre has spent its time since the inaugural meeting on June 7 mostly in listening to many people in the community, getting a feel of their views after the initial news coverage of the project.

 

“We’re selling the concept,” says Steve Brown, who with his wife, Janet, and friend Wayne Thompson, is heading up a group called This Way.

 

They are seeking to do what they believe the government and a gaggle of NGOs aren’t getting right: Giving “inclusion to hundreds of neglected youths looking for food, shelter, safety, and company.

 

p2064-Steve-Brown-130“Some haven’t eaten for days, let alone been to school”.

 

At the same time there needs to be relief for the public tired of the huge amount of crime, says Mr Brown (at right).

 

“We’re talking to everybody, from the Prime Minister down.

 

“Without wide support from the community this initiative will fail and the cycle of street crime and violence will continue.

 

“Most tragically, the neglect of kids will continue.”

 

“Except for piecemeal initiatives, a mishmash of uncoordinated activities, there is nothing at the moment that will stop it.

 

He deplores the “resentment and horrible comments” about kids on social media “when all they need is someone to put an arm around them”.

 

Many of them are “second or third generation street kids,” neglected by their families for much of the time, and by everyone else “except for brief moments, a few hours of evening activities” provided by NGOs.

 

“We need to end the suffering in this town, by the people and by the kids.

 

“We can bring the wider Community into our Centre to mix with these children. Volunteers will help to feed and clothe them. They can mentor, provide activities, help with health and education, provide goods and services, interact with the kids. Even just saying ‘hello’ and showing that they care, can all help.”

 

Mr Brown says some of the group’s nuts and bolts have been taken care of, a bank account and an ABN number, but a suitable location is still elusive.

 

 

 

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  1. Rachel
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    “We can bring the wider community into our centre to mix with these children. Volunteers will help to feed and clothe them. They can mentor, provide activities, help with health and education, provide goods and services, interact with the kids.”
    I’m curious to hear more from the steering committee around the reasoning behind a volunteer group maintaining the 24/7 youth space. Is it their belief that volunteers will keep the space open across the 24/7 cycle?
    From experience looking at youth spaces, what’s necessary is a group of people with energy and dedication to be available over the long haul, a demand tested sometimes by the nature of the work.
    It is about providing food, activities and access to resources, and also about being available to counsel. But What’s 24/7’s plan to account for the broader plan to deal with burn out and the transient nature of volunteerism?
    Young people don’t need strangers appearing and disappearing just as quickly; if this venture is about developing relationships along the fault-line of white, indigenous and non-indigenous adults of colour and young people, what’s its plan to create real relationships? Primarily, how will grandmothers and grandfathers be involved? How will different community groups connect with the 24/7 venture?
    On the surface it seems naive to suggest that a venue combined with volunteers equates to a solution to the problem as has been stated in the article: that the neglect of kids leads them onto the streets which leads them into problems.
    Is the answer simply leading them from the street into a venue? At least, there’s the desire to create positive dialogue around the relationship of the broader community and young people in this town, and that’s something many do think about around the clock.

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