‘Local residents called the police on them after they smashed in a TV, left it on the roundabout and started throwing bricks through windows’
And so it was that my visit to the picturesque cathedral city of Truro, Cornwall was shattered with the reality of what deficiency in youth investment can lead to.
Young People Cornwall (YPC) runs the only evening youth hub for disadvantaged residents of Truro, the Zebs Centre, and its two part time workers regularly deal with situations such as that described above. In that instance, and no doubt many others, the staff were able to dissipate the situation and offer the young people alternative activities through which to channel their energy.
Back in 2013, LandAid awarded £36,500 to fund essential repairs to the Zebs Centre and create an IT suite, a consultation room and a social space in the basement. Today the results are clear for all to see. One young man named Sam tells us: ‘There was nothing to do at Zebs before; everything was broken, now it’s much better. I feel really comfortable at Zebs. I think it is amazing that there is a studio of such high quality which is available to young people in Truro.’
Sadly, the fact remains that many young people in the area have painfully low aspirations, often due to the lack of engaging activities available to them. This is something Kate from YPC hopes to address with their ‘Inspire’ programme which helps young women to learn from a business mentor about their options and the potential they have as individuals.
With the county council forced to withdraw funding from the majority of youth services in Truro, Zebs is now the only lifeline for young people in the area. This stark reality was summed up by Deji, who told us ‘I have only been in Truro a year and already been in a lot of trouble with the police… without Zebs, Truro would not be a very positive environment because there would be nowhere for the young people to go and talk to someone.’