When young people hang around on the streets there is rarely a shortage of complaints about the “youth of today,” but how do young people want to spend their time?
Not hanging around the streets would be the answer if you look at a new survey carried out by Service Six in Wellingborough and East Northants.
Service Six is a children’s and young people’s charity for Northamptonshire, which provides youth services.
But it doesn’t provide these services without first consulting young people on what they want to do.
In a bid to find out what young people really wanted, they carried out a consultation, speaking to more than 250 young people in the county, from the age of 10 up to 19 years old, asking them about their use of clubs, activities and career aspirations.
Amy Hill, manager of Service Six, said: “We do three surveys each year for Northamptonshire County Council for different areas of the county.
“It’s part of our youth engagement work to give young people the opportunity to have their say.
“It’s basically us carrying out a review of services, but we always try and make sure young people’s voices are included in anything that we are considering.
“Once we have the results we feed them back to the leadership team and the professionals that set the services for the area, including local clubs, activities and employment services, and we will then look at what can be offered.
“Obviously it is dependent on budget but we send the results out to all services so that the young people’s views can influence their decisions.”
One of the questions young people were asked was what services and clubs they used in their spare time.
“I wasn’t surprised by the results we got in Wellingborough and East Northants, particularly that sports activities were most popular for boys and dance for girls, because that is something that is fed back often by young people,” said Amy.
In the survey 24.5 per cent of boys said they attended sports clubs, the highest rate for any activity. The highest rate for girls was the 16.5 per cent who took part in dance activities.
However, many of the young people we spoke to at Rushden Community College were keen to also see drama facilities increased in the area.
Alison Trille, a 14-year-old of Rushden, who is in Year 10, said: “I think there are quite a lot of sports facilities in this area and a lot we can get involved with.
“I think what they need more of is drama and creative things.”
Ellis Watts, 12, also of Rushden, added: “I really like sports and I’m really interested in football, but I think there could be more drama, which is really popular with a lot of people.”
Owen Gordon, 13, of Rushden, said it is not just that they need more drama clubs, but that they need clubs to be more affordable.
“Expensive clubs hold back people who can’t afford them.
“I really like drama and would like to be an actor or director but the drama clubs we have are too expensive.”
The cost of travelling to activities was also a concern for the young people.
“I think sometimes you need to travel to other places for things to do, and that can be expensive if your parents aren’t able to drive you,” said 13-year-old Tia Wills, of Rushden.
Young people taking part in the survey also pointed to a need for more youth clubs. The majority of young people (29 per cent) said they want to spend their time “hanging out with mates” and said that their youth club was good, but many wanted to see longer opening hours for youth clubs.
Alison said: “There are lots of extra curricular things that we can do in schools but we could do with more youth clubs that aren’t religious ones, because not everyone wants to go to those.”
Another topic broached in the survey was how easy it is for young people to find part-time work.
Of those surveyed 31 per cent of males had tried to get a part-time job compared to 21 per cent of females. Of those 53 per cent of boys were successful in in securing a job while only 38.5 per cent of girls were.
“I do a paper round,” said Taylor King, 14, of Rushden, “but they can be quite difficult to get in this area.
“It’s hard to find jobs because you don’t know where to look for them, there should be more listed online so they are easier for us to find.”
Taylor has also utilised opportunities to take part in volunteering to help with his future career.
“I do a lot of volunteering with charities and I volunteer to be be on the town youth council.
“I like to get involved with things that help me to develop new skills and to gain more responsibility, having a part-time job has also helped me with this, so I think this is something where there should be more opportunities.”
Most of the boys surveyed said their ideal job would be a sportsman, whereas the majority of girls would like to work in the performing arts.
When asked what might stop them achieving their ideal job, many said it was the ability to get the right grades (29.5 per cent) followed by financial difficulties at 10 per cent, and whether they would have enough confidence (seven per cent).
“I think I might like to be a surgeon when I leave school so I do worry about the grades I will get,” said Tia.
“But I do get a lot of support with my academic work at school.”
“I think things should be more affordable for kids,” said Owen. “I think affordable drama clubs now will help make me develop the skills I need to work in acting and help me get a job.
“You need support with the things you are interested in now, to make sure you have the confidence and the skills to get the jobs you want.”
The chance for young people to have their say on what is provided in the Wellingborough and East Northants area has been welcomed by youth workers.
Jo Holmes, extended service co-ordinator and youth worker, who works at the college, said; “I think it is essential that the starting point for any organisation working with young people asks them what they think.
“We have also tried to improve teaching and learning by getting feedback from young people.
“From doing consultations you can see that young people often have raw ideas that you might not think of and have a lot to offer.”
To learn more about Service Six visit the website www.servicesix.co.uk.