It feels like 2016 has only just begun but already the February half term is upon us and the annual Rye Scallop Festival is about to open its doors.
I often hear young people say to me that there isn’t much to do in our area but, in fact, when looking into things to do locally, I couldn’t disagree more. Right here in our local area there are a number of Cubs, Guides, Scouts, Rainbow and Boys Brigade troops. For those a bit older there are sea cadets, air cadets, army cadets and others. These clubs are a great way for our local young people to make new friends and spend time doing different activities they may not otherwise have had a chance to experience. It also gives kids the opportunity to acquire all sorts of useful skills that they will retain for a lifetime. Many years ago, more than I care to admit, I was a Brownie myself! I enjoyed the sense of camaraderie when we all put on our uniforms, the variety of outdoors events we did, the team exercises, the tremendous fun we all had and the friendships I forged.
Such youth organisations offer immensely valuable and enjoyable opportunities for young people to share new experiences and become active citizens in the community. As a child, I didn’t fully appreciate the commitment shown by the adult volunteers who made it all possible and gave their time so freely. Now, having met so many of the volunteers and groups of youths over the years with such big smiles on their faces, including the large number of cadets I have met at various local events including Remembrance Sunday I can truly appreciate the passion they have about what they are doing and the experiences they are sharing together. I strongly recommend children and teenagers to consider joining one of these clubs, there are so many to choose from locally. http://www.1066online.com/community/youth.php
Just last week, I joined local dignitaries and members of the public to see the opening of The Source - the new BMX and skateboard park on Hastings Seafront. It was fantastic to see the impressive work which has been completed over the previous twelve months to restore and renovate White Rock Baths. The building itself is a unique one; originally built as a Turkish Bath in 1876 and has been a cinema, swimming pool and ice rink. The ice rink closed in the early 90’s and, since then, the whole place has lay derelict, hidden from view, underground, right in the centre of Hastings. The main skate park is actually set inside the old Swimming pool and I could still see some of the old, unusual mosaics on the walls - the perfect example of retaining the beauty of the past and combining it with modern innovation to create something truly unique.
After being given the go-ahead by Hastings Borough Council on 9 June 2014, local business partners and brothers, Richard and Marc Moore of The Source Hastings Ltd, developed this world class facility, creating 30 jobs in the process! - a brilliant addition to the continued regeneration of Hastings, which will further improve our seafront and attract visitors to the town. The project is a great example of the local community and Government - through the Regional Growth Fund and Coastal Communities Fund - working together to establish a great new facility for young people to go to after school or work, to socialise and take part in extra-curricular community activities. For more details about The Source Park, visit www.sourcebmx.com.
Moreover, this week, Ore Station Pocket Park was announced by the Communities Minister Marcus Jones MP to be one of more than 80 unloved and neglected urban spaces across the country which will be transformed into green oases for everyone to use. This will give our local residents even more space to relax, get together and provide a safe space for their children to play.
From encouraging participation in youth groups, where valuable skills can be learned, to providing the very best facilities for young people to practice their hobbies and talents, it’s vital to build a community where opportunity is more equal, with stronger communities and young people who have the experiences to get out there and take on the world.