During the pandemic and in response to local tensions around anti-social behaviour, we began meeting and talking to young people in Colne, in the places where they were spending time after dark.
Filmmaker Nick Farrimond, artist Sophie Mahon and experienced youth engagement practitioner Paul Hartley are now collaborating to form more regular activity which is evolving in response to locally reported issues and what we found and heard whilst out and about.
Colne’s Lost Youth is a film currently in the making, featuring the voices of many of the young people we have been talking to which highlights the problems this generation are facing post-austerity and in during lockdown cycles.
In-Situ has been commissioned by Pendle Youth Forum, to respond to a growing intergenerational issue in Colne, in which groups of young people without a place to go are being reported for gathering in places such as around McDonalds and Sainsburys, presenting reported challenges for store workers and customers.
Working its way onto local social media platforms, negative vocalisation from within the community has lead to further polarising.
"The problem we are so familiar with is that there is nothing to do and nowhere to go - genuinely. We asked ourselves, "What can we do to help? How can we capture all of this?"
Over the last couple of years, there’s been a partnership approach to support more traditional detached work. The old youth service has changed and has had to close down centres. Open youth club services have been closed due to austerity cuts to services. And then Colne Sports Centre used to be open Friday evenings, but not now due to COVID-19.
There is nowhere undercover for them to feel safe and dry and hang out together.
There is free Wifi at McDonalds, so that’s a place to gravitate to. The places that do offer activities for young people are also open to younger families and require a spend to stay in there, and this is not working.
What we’re also seeing is the ease at which young people are being taken down a prosecution route for minor offences - it is understandable that people are unhappy, but these decisions have a massive impact on the lives of the young person and the issue as always is so much bigger and beyond the control of that individual.
We think there is a massive need for open youth work provision - just space for people to go. It seems that a youth club now has to have clear aims and objectives - it is targeted, but the people we’re speaking to just want somewhere to hang out and be safe.
What we’re seeing now is a backlash in which aggressive voices are speaking out on social media and using negative words like ‘feral’ - its very anti young people…
What we would like to offer is an alternative approach that asks what we can do, what is possible, and to find out where the interest is in the young people and work with that. Its a big problem and requires a lot of sustained collaboration.
Since we started, In-Situ has been part of the Pendle Youth Forum. There used to be one in every town around here made up of organisations that work with young people, but over the years it’s boiled down to just Pendle. The idea is for us to share and respond to hotspots of activity that are going on so the police attend and talk about anti-social behaviour.
This time last year talked to them about what they might want to do creatively - as an activity. There was talk of an old youth club reopening, and also of digital or filmmaking work, so this seemed like an obvious way to start, as a process.”
- Paul Hartley
What we’re doing
Pre-pandemic, we held Talkaoke sessions in Colne, outside McDonald's and in the car park under Sainsburys.
Over lockdown, we have been meeting groups ages 11-18.
Working alongside Lancashire County Council’s youth team, this has begun in a traditional detached youth work style, just walking around and finding groups, meeting them where they are (in more ways than one), in local parks, streets and the McDonalds car park.
Filmmaker Nick Farrimond went out with Paul to begin conversations as the basis of a film that enables the people met to talk about the issues they are experiencing, not only in the pandemic but during a time where they have no-where to go and no safe places to meet friends.
Through regular contact, a core group of people is forming with whom we will start running regular Wednesday sessions face to face, bringing in artist Sophie Mahon to develop ideas as part of our Yes and… methodology, as well as continuing detached work on Fridays.
This work is funded by Pendle Borough Council through the Crime Commissioner for Anti-social behaviour and Arts Council England
It is supported by Pendle Youth Forum, Children, Young People and Family Wellbeing Service, Lancashire County Council and Colne, West Craven Police’s Protective Service Officers and BFC in The Community.