FIRST came the stick, now comes the carrot.
An innovative new scheme to provide activities for young people has been launched in Standish.
The town is already one of a select number of areas in the Wigan borough which is designated a Section 30 Dispersal Zone and so the police can break up large groups if they fear that anti-social behaviour is afoot.
But when managers at the Co-op store noticed local young people hanging around outside their store and struggling to find things to do, they decided to take action in a more upbeat way.
Instead of simply looking at ways to move them on, the Co-operative group decided to offer funding for local agencies to provide activities for young people to get involved with.
Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Sports Development Unit secured £10,000 to provide a host of free activities on Wednesday and Friday evenings in the area.
Chris Essex-Crosby, WLCT’s Community Sports Development manager, said: “This pilot will be a real team effort and promises to be an exciting opportunity for young people in Standish.
“The Co-operative recognised that young people hanging around outside their stores needed somewhere to go and something to do.
“Instead of stigmatising them, they have suggested a positive alternative for local agencies, businesses and the community to get behind.
“Young volunteers are also needed and there is an opportunity to get some accreditation for the work.
“The project will benefit everyone involved and if successful could be rolled out further.”
The scheme launched with a charity family fun day at the Co-op store at the Standish crossroads on Saturday. All proceeds from the day will be donated to Mencap.
Further activities will now take place on Wednesday (including tonight) and Friday and evenings until the October half term holidays, when a week-long programme of activities will be announced.
Events over the coming weeks will include Ramp Riders skating and BMX workshops, laser quest, self-defence classes, climbing walls and sports.
Young people can meet youth workers on the Feel Well Bus and discuss any issues they may have.
Fun workshops on health, drugs and alcohol, crime and relationships will also take place. The scheme will be known as X-Zones Standish.
The X-Zones initiative, led by Wigan Council Youth Service, is already familiar to young people for providing activities for young people on evenings and weekends. Young people who want to try out the activities or who want to know more can head along to Standish Library this Wednesday, September 7 from 6pm to 8pm.
X-Zones Standish are supported by national charity StreetGames, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, La Mammas Italian restaurant, Standish Cricket Club and Standish Panthers Junior Football Club.
X-Zones have proved successful in reducing anti-social behaviour among youngsters in several parts of the borough already, including in Ashton and Leigh.
For more information contact Wigan Council youth workers on 01942 486111 or WLCT’s Sports Development Unit on 01942 404982.