TEENAGERS around the town can now enjoy the delights of a converted delivery van – decked out with iPads, Xboxes, internet access and a mobile graffiti wall.
Each week the van – run by BIOS, a sub-project of youth work charity Swindon Youth for Christ – visits 12 different locations to engage more than 350 young people in spaces where they already meet regularly.
Staffed by a trained youth worker and a team of volunteers, the new van focuses on providing a safe and entertaining space for youngsters to enjoy their spare time.
It is also hoped that it will help to reduce youth anti-social behaviour in the community.
Chris Priddy, the organisation’s director, said: “The BIOS van is not the sort of thing you can just buy on Amazon, it’s taken us six months to plan and construct.
“It’s definitely the coolest thing on Swindon’s roads.
“It’s great to see something that was just an idea transform into something tangible.
“The youngsters have really taken ownership too, with some of the older ones reminding others to be careful and not to take advantage and risk it being taken away or ruined for everybody else.”
So far the youngsters making use of the new mobile youth club have been very pleased with the result.
Amy Cox, lead youth worker for the project said: “The van has gone down really well.
“It’s fantastic to be able to be in the right place at the right time to offer support, care, advice, guidance and fun, positive activities to young people.”
The new van was funded as a result of a £63,500 grant from the first round of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s £1 million Innovation Fund last year, and has also been sponsored and supported by a variety of different businesses.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said: “I have joined Swindon BIOS volunteers during one of their evening sessions, and I think the idea of a mobile youth club van is a great way to engage with young people while they are out and about, providing them with a safe place to meet, rather than just ‘hanging out’ on the streets.
“It should also help to reduce reports of anti-social behaviour in the town and allows the BIOS team to engage with young people who may otherwise not attend a typical youth group.”
- To find out more about BIOS and the van project visit www.settings4life.org.uk/biosvan