Space Youth Bus: Burnley service helping 'thousands' of troubled children needs £70,000 by summer to avoid closing for good
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Here is everything you need to know about the Space Youth Bus in Burnley, how it helps young people, and its current plight:
What is the Space Youth Bus?
The service offers free support and fun activities to people aged seven to 20. It operates in Burnley Wood on Wednesdays and Stoneyholme on Fridays, and travels to a new area in need every five weeks. It offers arts, crafts, games, sports activities, computers with free internet access, iPads and game consoles, as well as advice about anything from homework and jobs to alcohol, drugs and sexual and mental health.
Why it is it in danger of closing?
Its director says it will run out of Calico and Lottery funding by the end of March and June, respectively. The team must raise £70,000 to keep the doors open for another year.
Director Lynne Blackburn said: “We’re really frantically looking for other pots of funding.”
Why does Lynne say it is vital to keep the bus open?
She said: “It’s an amazing project. There’s nothing like it out there. We have helped thousands of children. From July to September, we helped 900 young people, and 98 of them had one-to-one support or attended wellbeing workshops.
"It’s had a massive impact on their lives. They get support from trusted adults who are trained youth workers. We’ve helped people who once had chaotic home lives but are now mums and working. The police used to work with us in non-uniform and built a relationship with the youths.”
She added: "We’re one of the last free youth services in Burnley. I’m concerned about the lack of support for young people and safe spaces to hang out with their friends.”
How has the project helped to tackle a rise in antisocial behaviour in the past 12 months?
The team was previously stationed at the bus station and at the bottom of Manchester Road, with Lynne saying: “There was nowhere to go for these young people. Boredom was rising and they were in the town centre.
"I’m not blaming it all on the pandemic but I think young people were feeling really isolated as they hadn’t had social contact [during lockdown] and weren’t at school. I’ve seen a massive increase in mental illness.”
She added: “Originally, there was high antisocial behaviour right across Burnley. Now it’s in pockets across the town as we’re building relationships with children and breaking down barriers.”
What is the current need for the Space Youth Bus?
Lynne would ideally like to run the bus for three nights a week.
The project originally operated for four nights but proved so vital that it increased to six, as well as Saturday and Sunday daytime.
“We used to get around £110,000 a year in funding, plus extra to go out all day on Saturday and Sunday daytimes,” the director said.
"We’re constantly looking for funding. It’s a lot of pressure.”
Where is the service currently operating?
It is located in Oxford Road on Wednesdays from 5-30 - 9-30pm and Rectory Road near Burnley College on Fridays from 6 - 10pm.
How can the public support the cause?
To offer help or make a donation, please contact Lynne on [email protected]