Community Youth Project (then known as Bishops Green Youth Project) was established as a registered charity in 2002 to work in Bishops Green, a cluster of geographically and socially isolated housing estates close to the Hampshire/West Berks border. Our Project Manager, Ian Green, introduced activities for young people 4 nights a week (including youth clubs and sports activities) and 5 days a week during the 6 week summer school holiday scheme. We quickly saw a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour that were a significant problem at Bishops Green at that time.
In 2005 the new Bishops Green Village Hall opened complete with a dedicated youth room. Young people worked with our youth worker to choose the equipment and resources that they wanted to see in the room. The new youth room proved to be very popular with large numbers attending each night,
Working in partnership with Bishops Green Community Association, police, community wardens, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and both Sovereign and Sentinel Housing Associations, we successfully tackled the persistent offenders who were the cause of anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse and nuisance. Removing these negative influences from congregating night after night in the central open space had a hugely positive impact on the community.
Bishops Green Youth Council was established in 2006 and young people set a clear priority to bring improvements to Beech Road Open Space. A master plan for the open space was agreed with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to include what could be achieved soon and what could be achieved at the end of the planned regeneration of the Ashlands Estate. Plans for new football goals, artificial grass, footpath, teen shelter and landscaping works were developed by members of the youth council, agreed by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and funded by Greenham Trust and Vodafone UK Foundation.
The regeneration of the Ashlands estate at Bishops Green began in 2007. The Ashlands Estate was demolished and rebuilt in 3 phases, resulting in residents living on an active building site. There was a need for positive activities to divert young people from the dangers of such a site.
We arranged a French exchange trip in 2008. Working with a youth club in Alencon, France. Members of the French youth club were also from a community that was undergoing regeneration works.
A 3 year football project supported by the football project was launched. Local residents completed FA coaching qualifications, and gained practical experience working alongside professional coaches form Reading FC. Local resident Steve Holt proved to have excellent motivational skills and coached a 5 a side team that went on to win county and regional competitions.
In 2009 we were asked by our biggest funder, Greenham Trust, to expand our work into the nearby Nightingales Estate in Newbury, West Berks. Jenny McIntyre was appointed as our Youth and Community Worker. Jenny was a resident of Bishops Green and had been a volunteer working alongside Ian at Bishops Green for 7 years. Jenny was ideally placed to implement our successful model of youth work at The Nightingales.
The youth club at The Nightingales relaunched in 2010 with a new IT room, new games area, new chill out space and lots of new equipment and furniture.
In 2012 Greenham Trust completed a major refurbishment of Greenham Community Centre. Community Youth Project agreed to take over management of the centre. A community fun day was planned to celebrate the reopening of the Community Centre with over 400 people attending.
The regeneration of Bishops Green was delayed due to economic conditions and finally completed in 2014. We were now able to complete the master plan to bring improvements to Beech Road Open Space. Veolia Environmental Trust and Greenham Trust supported the installation of the second goal and artificial grass area and improvements to the turfed area between the goals.
Our much valued and respected Youth and Community Worker, Jenny McIntyre left at the end of 2015 and 2016 proved to be a difficult year with her replacement leaving, in difficult circumstances, after only 3 months in post. Our Project Manager, Ian Green split his time between the two sites and with the support of a team of part time staff began to rebuild the work at The Nightingales.
In 2017 Trustees decided to cease our activities in Bishops Green.
Bishops Green is no longer regarded by many potential funders as a location of relative deprivation deserving of their support. This is powerful evidence of CYP’s success there, because since 2002 when Ian established the youth project and commenced our youth club activities there, petty crime, anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol abuse have all vastly diminished. That improvement, which the police, local authorities and housing associations all acknowledge to be the result of Ian’s work, is now embedded and the local community is determined to maintain it. So the youth project’s job there is done, and it is time to focus our attention and resources on The Nightingales where the need for our work is greater.
Members of our Youth Council successfully completed their Bronze Youth Achievement Award. The award recognised the achievement of successfully completing our Youth Council Training Course. The youth council training course consisted of 3 elements:
1) A 10 week course of workshops using training material from the British Youth Council. Young people learnt about how to make their voice heard and play a role in local decision making.
2) A practical workshop with a performance artist. Young people learnt about voice projection and body language
3) A residential weekend held at Calshot Activities Centre where adventurous activities were used to build self confidence and team skills.
The course aimed to give young people the skills, knowledge and confidence to play an active role on local democracy. 12 young people completed the full course and were awarded with bronze youth achievement award certificates.
We have lost a stalwart supporter of the CYP, James Lewin, who stood down as Chair in January 2019. James joined the Trustees in June 2010 and took over as Chair in December of the same year. There is no doubt that, had it not been for his calm, steady and balanced leadership, we would not be on our current firm foundations.
Ian Green has been with the CYP since its inception; indeed, he was the founder, and after nearly two decades, he is relocating out of the area. His foresight, energy and commitment has made a great and beneficial difference to any number of children and teens in Bishops Green and the Nightingales. He leaves an experienced and organised team of youth support workers. The process of finding a new Youth Worker is in hand.