Yo yo yo! It’s Eden Green back on the mike! Only this time she’s 16 and much wiser.
IF YOU’VE NO IDEA WHAT I’M ON ABOUT, I shall enlighten you dear reader: in March 2018, I completed my work experience at Here & Now magazine where I wrote a sensational (if slightly pessimistic) piece on activities for young persons in our wonderful region. In fact, it was so sensational that the kind folk at the magazine have asked me to write a follow-up to see if any real change has been observed by yours truly. Before I bless you all with my new insight, perhaps you should first give the original a little eyeball:
How to be young in Worthing
Worthing is renowned for its elderly population, and there are many places that cater to their needs – so what is there for the youth to do? Now when I say youth, I don’t mean four-year-olds at arts and crafts sessions or nine-year-olds who go to roller-skating parties: I mean the teenagers of Worthing, who make up 9% of its population.
“Oh, get off your phone, play outside,” say the parents, followed by, “Don’t be out after dark though, and let me know where you are at all times, and don’t go out alone, and don’t wear that, and…”
Well, do you want me to go out or not? Telling me to go out is not helpful when there’s nothing to do. My trips to town consist of a traipse round the shops, a nondescript piece of sugary dough from Greggs and, because you can only go to the cinema so many times, I’ve now taken to untangling the slinkies in Hawkins Bazaar as a source of entertainment, or playing hide and seek in Debenhams, or looking at the pictures of dogs in the dog books in Waterstones, or just seeing who can drink a bottle of water the fastest (these are all very real things we actually do). As fun as these things are, they’re not the same as heading down to Brighton and hitting the laser tag, or the fair on the pier, or walking round the Lanes. Why is there nothing teenagers travel to Worthing for?
I made it my mission at Here & Now to find fun things for people my age to do in Worthing. I considered the various venues in the town: the leisure centres were alright, but if I ask someone to come to town with me, the last thing they want to be doing is exercise. The mini golf was something I enjoyed, but it wasn’t always open. The Pier amusements? Well, yes, but you can get bored of 2p machines very quickly. Bowling? Expensive. Restaurants? Even more expensive.
I decided a different approach was needed, and thought I’d take advantage of Here & Now’s connections by asking people in the office (because the entire magazine is dedicated to things going on in Worthing, so someone was bound to know) and via Facebook. I got a plethora of responses: I learned of RSOPA, who offer theatrical classes to teens, I was told about Blueprint 22, with projects for young people along the South Coast, and I heard about the #Scratchpad project. However, there was one notable theme: none of these things were permanent fixtures.
What the town needs is a venue open all hours (or at least until curfew) just for teens. A place with everything: table tennis, football table, vending machine, pool table, pinball machine, music, mocktails – even some beanbags would do! A place for young people to socialise (or not), an escape room where parents aren’t allowed.
This seems like a pipe dream, but it really is achievable, with areas like Teville Gate, Union Place and the Lido in need of renovation and the council taking suggestions. Think of the tourism it would bring in; young people would travel into Worthing instead of out! A youth club you don’t have to join but can just turn up to; let’s face it, a £2 entry fee is better than a £20 bowling lane, and it would keep your darn teenagers off their darn phones (for a while at least).
Here endeth the old article.
So there’s that, and I must say, a year and a half on there’s still a significant lack of youth centre, and Teville Gate remains very much a fenced-off mystery. This said, I’ve observed some differences in youth activities; it is possible that it is because I am now 16 and all of a sudden these activities are no longer forbidden, or that now I’m ‘more mature’ *cough* my parents have allowed me a little more independence, but I must say, my post-GCSE-three-month-summer hasn’t had a dull moment yet! A quick visit to the Here & Now website and I’ve learned of at least five things I could be doing to fill up my August, from music workshops to a weekly quiz. I can really see Worthing making the effort to include the youth; I managed to attend Worthing Pride, and the all-ages atmosphere only reinforced my conclusion. I hope this attitude continues to grow, as we are not where we need to be yet, but it’s safe to say that Year 10 Eden would be happy.