A ‘LIFELINE’ service for teenagers in Burnley has received a massive boost from the Big Lottery Fund.
The Space Youth Bus, which visits different parts of the town, can carry on serving the community for another three years after netting £250,000.
Lynne Blackburn, 45, from Trawden, said staff are now trained to offer advice and help those in need who are struggling.
“The youngsters tell us if they have got issues at home, or if they need any help for their anti-social behaviour. Drugs and alcohol misuse are common issues,” said Lynne. “We can direct them to the right person and help them as much as possible — it’s often their lifeline.”
The Lottery cash is being spent on staffing costs, maintenance and diesel to get to and from the different areas in Burnley. It runs four nights a week between 5.30 and 9.30pm during the week and 10pm at weekends, and once inside, teenagers can socialise with each other, use Playstations, watch a DVD, TV, or interact on iPads.
Lynne worked alongside the council and police to set up the Space youth Bus in 2007. “It was originally a project that started off as a place for young people to go at the weekends. But after its success, we are now out from Wednesdays to Saturdays.
“The youngsters were quite territorial to start off with but over time we have been able to get into the areas and get some great feedback.
“The kids can come and go as they please throughout the night.”
Lynne bought the bus from Transdev for £4,000 and now employs 10 sessional workers, with more than 50 youngsters visiting each night.
“We wanted to take the service to the streets, rather than the children having to travel out on a bus or walk. Some of them like us because they don’t have the means of travelling to a youth club,” said Lynne.
The Space Youth Bus, which impressed Prince Charles on a recent visit, plans to stay on the road, although Lynne said that more funding will be needed to keep it running.
“The vehicle is over 30 years old. A brand new one costs over £100,000 and I doubt we will ever be able to get one.
“Because it’s old, parts can’t be replaced and repairs cost more. The service is always looking for means and ways to fund itself, so that we can carry on providing a excellent service to the community.”