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Youth mentorship project toasts funding boost from PCC

Parkside skillz4 crop

PCC Hardyal Dhindsa and Liam Parker

A youth mentorship programme helping to train young people in trades such as horticulture and joinery to prevent them turning to crime has received a special visit from Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa.

The YouthSkillz project, run by Parkside High Community Interest Company, offers support and mentorship opportunities to hard-to-reach young people aged 10 to 16 from the Cotmanhay area to help prepare them for the world of work and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Project leaders successfully applied for funding from the Commissioner’s Community Action Grant scheme and the PCC paid a special visit to the facility to formally present the cheque.

The program, which is delivered in the community allotment ‘Garden 61’ in Cotmanhay, includes workshops such as gardening and horticulture, building and joinery and scaffolding and mechanics, and accommodates up to 40 young participants a week.

Regular sport and physical activity sessions run alongside the training and the overall aim is to increase the young people’s sense of belonging to the community and to successfully divert them away from crime, ASB and substance misuse.

Mr Dhindsa said: “It was wonderful to meet the mentors behind YouthSkillz and understand the difference they are making to the lives of young people in this area.

“Diversionary programs like this one build self-confidence and give young people a sense of purpose as well as developing their ambitions. At a time when local authorities are cutting back on their support for young people, I’m more committed than ever to invest in their future. What is particularly encouraging about YouthSkillz is that the young people engaged in the scheme leave with essential skills and experience which will stand them in good stead with future employers or educational institutions. It also fosters positive community relations.

“I look forward to hearing more about the beneficial impact this program is having on young people in the future.”

Liam Parker, founder of Parkside High CIC, added: “The PCC’s funding is already making a big difference. We have just completed the installation of our compost toilet which means we now have a toilet on-site. This is another step in us becoming fully self-sufficient.

“Previously, we had to use the facilities at the children’s centre which is within a reasonable distance but it could sometimes disrupt sessions as the young people had to be accompanied by a member of staff.

“Speaking from personal experience, I went into an apprenticeship upon leaving school and was fortunate to have a good support network around me and was encouraged to do it. Leaving school can be a daunting process, especially if you don’t have that support network in place. We keep on pushing and encouraging these young people to realise their potential.”

The program, which is being run for the next 12 months, is led by senior mentors and a recently employed apprentice undertaking the Coach Core (level 2) qualification.

As part of the scheme, participants will enhance the community allotment facility as well as make and sell the products they create to generate a small income for the project.

ENDS

Media enquiries:  Sallie Blair 01283 821012

Posted on Thursday 20th August 2020
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