Jane Morley writes:
Penge Forum’s meeting on 25 June 2018 was held to help Crystal Palace Community Development Trust’s consultation on youth provision locally. An audience of around 50 heard short presentations from Councillor Kathy Bance, Inspector Gary Byfield, Teena Marshall (Streetwise Youth Centre) and Elaine Harrison (Youth Services Coordinator CPDT). The audience (of Penge Forum members, parents, and young people) put forward ideas and questioned the panel.
Main points made were that:
We needed to find ways of working despite local government cut-backs. There were alternative sources of funding, but these required research and making of convincing cases.
The best way for local voices to be heard was to turn up to Bromley Council’s meetings, held in Bromley Civic Centre, either to put questions individually or to support others.
Although activities were taking place, communication was fragmented and did not reflect the ways young people now receive information – mostly through social media, and Snapchat and Instagram were more effective for this particular audience than Facebook and Twitter (mostly for the middle-aged).
Although some young people resisted information which came through their own parents, others valued parental input, so an increased use of Snapchat did not mean that Facebook should be downgraded. The various social media should be seen as complementary.
Equally there was still a role for flyers and traditional means of communication. For example, Bromley Borough’s website (via Bromley.gov.uk) provides a central site for publicising youth facilities, once an organisation is registered. And the Streetwise Youth Centre can pass on information about events if notified.
There are three local youth clubs, Brownies, Cubs etc, but these did not get sufficient publicity. Although venues are limited for further activities, Melvin Hall, for example, has spare space in the evenings.
The more that adults volunteered to help with arrangements, the more it was likely extra events would take place. Whatever activity was agreed on, it was important that young people were kept safe, and that the activities were evaluated to ensure that they continued to be seen as valuable.
There was a lot of pressure on the school curriculum and living skills were felt to have been edged out. So there was interest in getting together sessions to develop entrepreneurial skills, to provide practice for job interviews, to tease out ideas about what employment routes there are, and how to present yourself more positively, for example by practising how to speak in public.
Pledges made by the main speakers were:
Kathy: would try to ensure that evening events for young people in Melvin Hall were available at low/no cost for hire.
Gary: The police would update their communications, and work more closely with local groups and partners.
Teena: would look again at advertising of events, ensuring that leaflets were available at all libraries and other locations visited by the public.
Elaine: would talk to others outside of this meeting on how to get information better coordinated by Bromley Council and how to gather information better from young people.
Penge Forum would also look to improve its communications.