By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas
THE central theme of last Friday’s ‘virtual roundtable’ to discuss anti-social behaviour in Gosport was how much is being done to prevent it.
The town’s MP, Caroline Dinenage, said she had organised the meeting because, “a number of constituents have contacted me regarding activities for youngsters in the area and how they can help reduce anti-social behaviour”.
Twenty people joined the Zoom call, many of them representing organisations – such as Motiv8, Y Services, Energise Me, and Hampshire’s Youth Crime Prevention – offering services and activities for young people.
Also online were Gosport police who, District Commander Inspector Mark Lewis pointed out, did have to enforce the law against ASB but also carried out, “a lot of work to identify those in need and at risk” in order to get them to agencies that offered support.
He added: “What is really important is in the borough there are so many agencies.”
That was borne out in the presentations by several of the organisations which outlined their plans for the summer school holidays – the Summer Passport Scheme run by Gosport Borough Council, and Let’s Get Connected which involves organisations ranging from Motiv8 and Y Services to Friends of Hardway and Rowner Community Trust.
However, there was less certainty about how post-Covid services and activities would be provided.
Kirsty Robertson, from Motiv8, accepted it was, “difficult to say what will happen when restrictions are lifted”, and explained how services had been affected during the pandemic leading to her having to stop taking referrals for one-to-one support sessions because there were already 38 young people on the waiting list.
Y Services’ Andy Kennedy agreed and predicted: “Youth work is going to look different. One thing we did was virtual contact with young people and I think that we will continue with some online contact.”
His organisation has ‘detached workers’ who go out to the places where young people congregate and their role is to talk and where necessary challenge behaviour.
Several gaps in the services and activities were discussed including the decade-old call for an indoor skate park – Gosport Borough Council’s Youth Champion Councillor Margaret Morgan is a fervent supporter of the need for the facility and Kirsty Robertson echoed the view that it is wanted by many young people.
Street dance classes
Another gap may be contemporary dance according to the founder of Portsmouth-based Funk Format – which describes itself as a, “community dance social enterprise with a mission to create a positive, creative, healthy and safe environment for all people”.
Sasha Biloshisky explained how he would like to bring street dance classes to Gosport because they can develop skills and confidence in young people.
Of particular importance, is the need to find out what young people in the borough want. The meeting heard that the Gosport Youth Voice Project was carrying out a survey.
Also, work is being carried out to compile case studies of five people who have been in trouble with the law in order to find out what would have prevented them from being permanently excluded from school.
Summing up at the end of the hour-long discussion, Ms Dinenage asked all the participants to work together to combat ASB and said the contacts made during the meeting would be shared to help achieve that.