‘Great shops but not enough to do’

Wednesday, 13 October 2010.
‘Great shops but not enough to do’

Pupils speak out about life in Braintree.

Pupils from Alec Hunter Humanities College, Notley High School and Tabor Science College in Braintree recently got together to voice their views about life in the town.

The pupils were taking part in a new initiative developed by Braintree District Council’s Community Safety and Development team, working together with the schools, to encourage young people to have their say about their local area and get involved in community issues.  This is all part of the Government’s ‘Big Society’ initiative and involves encouraging our young people in becoming Community Organisers.

On Friday 1st October, the first in a series of inter-school workshops took place at Alec Hunter Humanities College. Four pupil representatives from different year groups in each school attended, along with their school’s Community Engagement Co-ordinators - Lisa Artus (Alec Hunter Humanities College), Rosie Bonny (Notley High School) and Julie Hickman (Tabor Science College) and Chris Robb, Community Safety and Development Officer from Braintree District Council.

In the workshops, open spaces, good schools, good shopping facilities and a nice town centre were all seen as positives by the teenagers; whereas not enough free activities for young people, lack of transport to rural areas and litter were seen as drawbacks. The students also spoke about issues that were of concern to them such as teenage pregnancy, peer pressure, bullying and lack of jobs.

Over the next six weeks the group is planning to meet again to tackle these issues, seek guidance and help from the school and Braintree District Council staff, and develop a realistic Action Plan for the students to take forward.  The students will also feedback messages to their peers via their school’s student councils.

Cllr Wendy Schmitt, Cabinet Member for Clean, Green and Safe, said: "Sometimes young people find it hard to get their voices heard and we wanted to give them a platform to share their views on what it’s like to be a young person where they live. It seems the students really enjoyed having their say and raising issues that concerned them. We look forward to future workshops and to helping them resolve their ideas."

Rosie Bonny, said:  "It was fantastic to see the students mixing with people from different schools and different age groups.  The students came up with some really interesting feedback and are keen to work hard to improve Braintree for everyone, not just their own age group."