Boys use Sidmouth youth venue more

ORGANISERS of a seafront Sidmouth venue dedicated to young people have appealed for volunteer help as the summer holidays loom.

A SEAFRONT venue dedicated to Sidmouth young people has proved a big hit with boys in a successful first year.

Organisers at The Arches have appealed for volunteer help as the summer holidays loom.

The venue has attracted hundreds of youngsters since it was launched almost a year ago, said Di Fuller, chairman of trustees for the Sidmouth Youth Trust.

She revealed that The Esplanade hub has been used more by boys than girls and driving forces hope to extend the use of the facility.

“We set out to do something different on the seafront for young people,” said Di when reflecting on The Arches’ first year in operation. Fifty sessions attracted 500 visits from 177 different users aged between 13 and 15. Twenty-nine volunteers helped out.

“Last summer, we had a 50/50 gender balance but, over time, a higher number of young boys – around 65 per cent – used the facility,” said Di.

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Devon Youth Service became involved with The Arches in January and provides Friday and Saturday sessions.

“It’s not a caf�, it’s a project in the biggest sense,” said Di.

“We don’t want youngsters to walk through the door and feel like they have to spend money.

“It’s a place for them to meet, relax and be safe – a place to hang out without being moved on. The thing that really seems to have hit the mark with young people is cooking – making pancakes and smoothies.

“Music is something we want to develop.”

On the future of the hub, Di said: “We need to hang on to the idea this is an alternative venue for young people.

“Most don’t go to Manstone (youth centre). We’re offering something that previously wasn’t offered.”

She said primary schools or youth organisations would be welcome to use The Arches during the daytime.

“We’re always on the lookout for volunteers. We need a big team for the summer holidays.”