Could lack of youth activity provision cause youth disruption?

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in so many ways; this is indisputable. Young people have missed almost six months’ worth of schooling; many adults have lost their jobs or the method in which they do their job now differs. However, as students have been going back to school, one thing that was brought to attention is that the teachers have had more changes to their daily life than students have. Adults have missed going out with their friends to restaurants, they’ve missed going to work and they’ve missed going to the gym or yoga. They’ve missed having hobbies and downtime. What have students missed? For the majority of them, the only thing they had missed was school.

This is because there is a startling lack of activities for young people to do in the area. Lots of hobbies may require commuting which costs money or it either requires their parents to take them there; this is not always possible when adults have jobs and if parents want to encourage their children to become more independent. As well as this, many activities are based around sports which are not of interest to everybody, especially those who may be more academically inclined.

As well as this, activities (even without travelling) can be expensive. For example, it can cost up to £8 to ice-skate for two hours at the local leisure centre. For many families living in Grimsby, this is an extortionate amount, especially when knowing that 35% of children living here are brought up in poverty. People cannot afford to spend this amount regularly; this creates a multitude of problems.

One problem is that children growing up in deprived areas are more likely to be either overweight or obese. Whilst there is an argument that this is because the current generation is infatuated with technology, there is a link between the poverty-stricken areas of Grimsby being more likely to be overweight such as the West Marsh. If people are not able to spend as much money to improve their lifestyle by having hobbies, including teenagers not going out due to financial issues, then it makes them more susceptible to making poorer choices.

As well as this, the lack of entertainment in the area causes a higher crime rate, with children from North East Lincolnshire being more likely to be jailed than the national average. Parks in the local area are frequently vandalised as an indirect result of this being where the majority of teenagers spend time together outside of school. They are destroyed in many ways whether it be an absurd amount of litter, fires set near greenery or park equipment being broken. These reasons mean that younger children do not feel comfortable going there and their parents are not satisfied with the park either.

Many teenagers also socialise in Freshney Place, however, some adults can feel threatened when teenagers are congregated in a large group. There needs to be a clear distinction between places for young children, young adults and the general public. Young children and their parents would feel safer going into parks if there was less chance of there being injudicious graffiti or hazardous waste.

As well as this, there is the benefit of young adults having spaces to enjoy themselves and act more casually. There would be a contrast in how they act in public areas as they would understand that it is a place to act more dignified; this would make the general public feel safer as well.

There are different ways to provide more opportunities for young people after the COVID-19 pandemic. There could be more youth clubs set out with varied activities throughout the town, for a cheap price. Or areas, where teenagers visit frequently, could have specified areas open only for teenagers. This would create an environment where they could get together without judgement from other members of the community. Although we must come to a unanimous decision: implementing different ideas through trial and error is imperative to make a better community in Grimsby.

Article by Young Reporter Abianne Forrington
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 29th September 2020