Pioneering Wearside youth scheme

Coun Pat Smith and Coun Richard Bell with young people at Hylton Castle XL Youth Village

Coun Pat Smith and Coun Richard Bell with young people at Hylton Castle XL Youth Village

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HUNDREDS of youngsters have been kept off the streets thanks to a pioneering youth village which has been hailed a massive success.

A series of XL Youth Villages have been held at five locations across the city every weekend during the summer, giving youngsters the chance to try their hand at a host of exciting activities.

But with winter on its way the outdoor ventures have drawn to a close.

One of the biggest success stories of the villages, which have helped to cut youth-related antisocial behaviour across the city, is the Hylton Castle project.

Jane Eland, youth developer group manager at Sunderland City Council, said: “We’ve seen the biggest success with this one with over 250 people coming to it.

“The villages are a great way to reach out to young people in the community and we have found that different things work in different areas.”

Activities on the mobile sites include a climbing wall, a bus with computer games, a mini recording studio and a marquee where budding bands, singers, DJs and MCs can perform.

Coun Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children and learning city at Sunderland City Council, said: “The youth villages have been great and it’s good to see the young people come in and go and do their own thing.

“The activities here help to give them confidence as well as a chance to try things they might otherwise not get the opportunity to do.”

Teenagers Cameron Hunter, Sam Stockdale, Kurt Oxpelly and Jordan Golden, all 15, have been spent the summer shooting a video of events.

Sam, of Southwick, said: “The village is good because it brings a lot of youngsters in the community together and keeps us off the streets.

“It also brings something fresh to the community and gives us all something to enjoy.”

Young band Red Tuesday have used the village as a platform to build their confidence and have spent the last few weeks touring the villages.

Brandon, 15, of Red House, said: “We did our first gig in Washington and have been to a few others since then. This has really helped to boost our confidence and has given us a really fun, great experience.”

Coun Richard Bell, who covers the area, added: “This has been a hell of a success and has proved to be great at keeping kids off the streets by giving them something to do.”

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