So what does Sittingbourne have to offer for young people?
Well, probably a lot more than most people are aware of, but a question nevertheless that I hear all too frequently and one which has spurred 16-year-old Patrick Cantellow into action.
Last night at the launch of Swale Young People, an organisation founded by Patrick, which promotes the tagline of ‘Made by young people for young people’ a large number of young people, and one or two older ones, myself included, listened with interest as Patrick outlined his plans.
A very confident, but slightly nervous Patrick took to the stage and gave a very impressive and towards the end highly emotive and energetic speech. It is hard to resist the enthusiasm and drive which he has in abundance, this is someone who really could make a difference.
So what is it all about?
We asked Patrick to explain why
“Young people are always moaning that there is nothing to do and Swale is becoming an increasingly deprived”
“Our focus is to promote our Young Ambassador Network which will provide young people with access to volunteering opportunities through Swale CVS.”
“We also want to open up things like the Swale Youth Forum to people not in education, employment or training.”
I asked what he hoped to achieve in the short term
“We want to make young people aware that there is an organisation that they can go to which can help and in the first year our aim is to get 50 young people to sign up to the Young Ambassador Network and then hopefully double that year on year for the next five years.”
I suggested that deprivation and simply having nothing to do are not quite the same thing and how he intended to address both of these concerns.
Patrick explained that “If they sign up to our activities not only will it give them something to do, but it will also improve their employability prospects and community cohesion. We will allow young people to gain confidence, increase their wellbeing, grow their citizenship and be respected as a force for good.”
So if you are aged between 11 and 19 years of age and you want to know more about the Young Ambassador Network or any other aspect of Swale Young people why not head over to their website http://www.swaleyp.org.uk/.