Young people’s plans to turn Sudbury park into a social hub

Young people have devised a project to improve Belle Vue Park in Sudbury.

Young people have devised a project to improve Belle Vue Park in Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

A group of west Suffolk teenagers on a Government-backed scheme have embarked on a project to improve youth provision in their town, which has been described by local councillors as “totally inadequate”.

As part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) Scheme, the nine students, all from the Sudbury area, have come up with ideas to enhance their local park.

Their participation in the scheme began with an adventure week at Liddington Activity Centre in Swindon where they learned team-building skills. They then stayed at the University of Essex for a week working on life skills.

The third week has been spent in Sudbury where they devised the concept for a community social action project.

NCS student social worker, James Taverner, who has been working with the students, said: “They had to plan a real life project and they came up with an idea based around improvements to Belle Vue Park.

“In terms of immediate impact, they decided to do a clean up and help to make covers for the animal shelters.

“The ongoing inspiration was to campaign, petition and raise awareness about all issues in the park such as the need for improved facilities for all age groups – especially young people because they currently don’t have many options in Sudbury.”

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The students also met with Sudbury town councillors Luke Cresswell and Ellen Murphy to discuss their ideas.

Mr Cresswell, who recently agreed to chair a youth forum in the town, believes provision for children aged between 12 and 16 in Sudbury is “sorely lacking” and he is campaigning for improvements that he believes should be identified by local school students.

He said he was “very impressed” with the suggestions put forward by the NCS students.

“The young people had some very good ideas and were extremely proactive - they have really been reiterating the ideas that we have been discussing as a council,” Mr Cresswell said.

“They contacted local DIY stores to see if they could help with materials for the short term projects.

“In the longer term, they would like Belle Vue Park to become a social hub for people of all ages. This would include making the park a safer environment with better lighting and trained youth workers so it could be open later in the evenings.

“They would also like a bandstand area for live performances and they want the BMX park to be re-opened in its current location. Another suggestion was that we hold more youth events in the park and install some football goal posts so they could have kick-about.”

Another idea put forward by the group was to introduce some “street art” to brighten up the park.

Mr Cresswell added: “I would like to take the youngsters into a full council meeting so the councillors could hear their ideas first hand.”

Next week, the group will contribute 30 hours to the project.

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