Impact of new ‘youth bus’ on council outreach services hailed

Council scrutiny panel hears the £90,000 mobile youth services facility has helped the authority engage with more young people across the borough, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Council’s youth bus launched in November 2022

Enfield Council’s youth outreach services are seeing increased engagement – with special praise placed on a £90,000 ‘youth bus’ launched last year.

At a children, young people and education scrutiny panel meeting yesterday (Monday 18th), the council’s director for children and family services, Anne Stoker, said the team’s efforts had been “really successful”. 

She was referring to data from a report presented to the meeting, which stated that 1,274 young people accessed the outreach service between June and September 2023, “which demonstrates extensive reach”. 

The report added: “This was an increase of 341 on the previous quarter, when 933 young people accessed the service, which suggests that the impact of this service provision is increasing.”

In trying to meet an aim to make youth centre services more mobile, the council launched its new youth bus in November 2022. The service has since drawn “impressive” figures, contributing to the increase in engagement.

The outreach team’s work encompasses three areas; detached-based work, such as the youth bus; community work, such as walking around hotspot areas; and safeguarding work in schools, i.e. supporting students to safely transit from school to home.

Anne said: “We haven’t had the youth bus for very long, I think it’s quite impressive the figures of the young people it’s reaching, the whole point of the youth bus is it can go anywhere.”

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Young people can access a range of services and activities through the bus, such as help with job applications and health advice as well as use of games consoles and music stations.

Explaining issues raised by young people using the bus, Anne said: “Primarily what we’re trying to do is hone them into positive activities. ‘Do you like boxing? You can’t get boxing on the youth bus but you can get it at Ponders End’. 

“‘Do you think you might enjoy car mechanics? We’ve got a great garage at Ponders End’. We often use the computer to show people what the activities are in the centres.”

Individual issues are discussed by youth mentors too, and Anne explained the considered approach they take to keeping young people engaged with the service long-term. 

She said: “There’s a fine line between trying to get too much out of a young person straight away, and then them not coming back to you, so it has to be a bit of a fine line, you have to take the lead and the balance and that’s all about professional judgement.”

Anne praised the efforts of her team’s community outreach workers, who walk around approaching young people congregated in parks and outside fast food chains to raise awareness of the activies and support at community youth centres. 

She said: “We hear about young people congregated, then we’ll go along to talk to young people to positively engage them. Young people will listen to them and talk to them far more than they will most of us.

“The aim is to help them think about engaging in positive interests. Putting a hook into what might interest them. Try to move them off the streets and into positive activities and that’s been a really successful intervention.”

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