- By Shaun Peel & Neve Gordon-Farleigh
- EuroJournal News, Northamptonshire
A group of youth workers hope to keep young people away from gang culture through gaming.
The Yard is a gaming cafe on Gold Street in Northampton that gives young people who might get caught up in gang behaviour a safe space to go to.
Issac visits The Yard almost every day it is open and uses it as a “place to escape the world”.
Games Against Gangs uses gaming as a way for young people to learn to work together and offers a chance to talk about internet safety and other issues.
Sixteen-year-old Issac wanted somewhere to go with his friends, especially when the weather gets colder and darker.
He said: “When I’m walking around town…. you do feel quite unsafe but when I’m here, I do feel safe.”
Issac started coming to The Yard as a safe place to be indoors, but kept visiting to escape the pressures and stresses of school.
He said: “I come near enough every single day it’s open, talk about how my day’s been at school, it’s a nice place to escape the world.”
What he enjoys about coming to The Yard is being able to talk to the youth workers.
Debbie Harrison is one of those youth workers, but prefers to be seen as a “conversation starter”.
She said: “It’s a safe space for young people to be in, so they’re not out on the streets in the town centre, not the possibility of getting caught up in gangs and drugs and other alcohol related things.
“It’s safe, it’s a warm space and they can get advice and help and support.”
Ms Harrison said seeing how much of a difference the site was making was “rewarding”.
“For young people today it’s quite a big issue [gangs]… they’re very easily led and those sort of people, the criteria of those people pry on young vulnerable people, and because it’s an area of poverty… that’s why The Yard is here.
“Northampton has expanded quite a lot in the last five years, so I think the need for somewhere for young people to go is vital, really. There should be more places for them to go.”
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