Opportunities knock for Wallasey teenagers

A GROUP of teenagers from Wirral have been praised for their role in a successful application to the Youth Opportunities Fund that saw them pay a visit to the country’s seat of power.

The group of ten young people, aged between 13 and 18, from the Seacombe and Liscard areas gave a presentation to their local ward councillors about their trip to the Houses of Parliament and the Home Office, which was funded by the Youth Opportunities Fund.

The young people were brought together by Wirral's Youth Respect Team, part of the Wirral Anti-Social Behaviour Team, who were working in the area to address complaints of anti-social behaviour in the area.

As part of the work, the teenagers were supported by the Youth Respect Team to make a funding application for Youth Opportunity funding.

Last year, Wirral’s Youth Opportunity Fund allocation was £317,000.

The money is to improve places to go and things to do for 13-19 year olds and is administered by a grant panel of young people who themselves decide how the money is to be spent.

Representatives from the grant panel were at the celebration event to hear what the young people had learned during their recent trip to London.

As well as the tour of the Houses of Parliament and a special visit to the Home Office, the young people also took in many of the capital city’s tourist attractions, including visits to Madame Tussauds, the London Eye and a West End theatre production.

At last week’s celebration at Wallasey Town Hall, the young people outlined the positives they had got out of the trip.

This included increased confidence, experience of teamworking and many new skills, including leadership.

Wirral’s Mayor, cllr Adrian Jones, was on hand to present certificates to everyone who took part.

Caroline Laing, manager of Wirral’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team, said: "The young people gained a great deal from the trip, both in its planning and its execution.

"It was evident that they have all taken something positive away from it.

"From the feedback provided by the youth workers involved it was clear that the young people made an extremely positive impression on the people they came into contact with in London and were excellent ambassadors both for Wirral and other young people."

Lindsay Davidson, acting head of Wirral Youth & Play Service, added: "The young people from the Youth Opportunity Fund grant panel are really pleased that this grant has enabled the group to have an experience that may not have been possible without this money.

"The Youth Opportunity Fund aims to have a positive effect on the lives of the young people involved and this project is an excellent example of the impact the fund can have on young people and their local community."

One of the young people, Joel Lewis, was also presented with the Sheila Jordan Junior Respect Champion Shield, in memory of a local resident who was instrumental in developing activities for local young people, and who died at Christmas two years ago.

The 15-year old was identified by Senior Youth Worker, Alf Mullin, as he had been the driving force behind the trip, taking a strong leadership role. Joel now wishes to volunteer with the Youth Respect Team.

The Sheila Jordan Senior Respect Champion Shield was presented to Chloe Toleman, aged 18, who had been brought to watch the event not knowing she was to be presented with an award.

Chloe originally participated in football sessions in the area organised by the Youth Respect Team and progressed to volunteering with Wirral's Positive Futures led programme on Friday and Saturday evenings in Seacombe, co-ordinated by Wirral's Community Sports Development Unit.

Chloe took advantage of sports training with the project and is now a qualified level one football coach, helping to teach other young people in the Seacombe area. During the event, the Unit's Activity Mentor Colin Hunt, highlighted Chloe's outstanding commitment to the project and selflessness in volunteering her time.