Ealing mother calls for youth centre

An Ealing mother has voiced the need for a youth centre in W4, an area where there is rising crime against young people.

Sally Chacatté began W4 Youth, a community youth project for 11-19 year olds in Chiswick, after what could have been a fatal incident with her son.

She said Oli, aged 13 at the time, was walking to football practice with a group of friends when they heard shots and he was hit in the face. He had to have surgery to remove the pellet from just below his temple.

“He said he wanted something good to come out of what happened to him to help get people off the streets with something good to do.

“That was and remains my motivation for doing all we've done so far and will do in the future,” she added.

Launching last September from St Peter’s Church Hall, W4 Youth has grown from 30 to over 100 members, travelling in from Shepherd’s Bush, Acton and Hammersmith.

It runs drama, dance, boxing and football groups, aiming to develop and utilise young peoples’ talents and keep them off the streets.

A registered charity, the project aims to raise £1million to build a youth centre to function in the community and move out of the church hall, running seven days a week from 4-10pm manned by centre managers.

W4 want to build the centre in Southfield Park, Chiswick, where there are three derelict buildings due to be demolished. This would be the “ideal” location as it captures Acton Vale and W4.

Ms Chacatté said: “Every area needs these groups. Youth facilities offer somewhere safe to go so young people don’t make their own entertainment.

“There is a lot of headway for this project. Young people are dropping in that may not necessarily be members, but it shows their interest in what we are doing. The project pays its dividends.”

Georgie, a youth group member from Acton, said: “My friends and I wanted somewhere safe and warm to go on Friday nights. Youth Club has given us somewhere safe to go although it’s not always warm in the Church Hall in winter.

“We also wanted to do drama and we now have a drama group on Wednesdays and me and my friends go to that.”

Comedy duo Ant and Dec are patrons of the charity, who are “excited” to be involved.

Ms Chacatté says that the plans to build a centre have been greatly received and supported.

“Residents agree that this is just what the area needs. It is an amazing response as it is for the good of everyone, not just the young people,” she said.

For young people seen to be causing the trouble, the charity want to offer specialist support and engage them in activities rather than them hanging around the streets.

Oli said: “I think it’s amazing how my Mum has changed everything for the young people of W4.”

The centre would have IT rooms, music rooms, sports facilities and cafes involving not only young people between 11-19 but younger and older members of the community.

The proposals are reflective of the shift towards David Cameron’s Big Society and it is hoped that centres such as W4 Youth will improve social cohesion in the Ealing borough.

The building would be environmentally friendly with an eco-pond, seating and landscaping, providing much more to the area rather than just to its young people.

Jeremie, a youth member from Chiswick, said: “The youth club gives us somewhere to go to do things like boxing training and somewhere safe to go to be with our friends.”

Ms Chacatté said: “Our goal is to provide a youth service and make people aware of the need for these in all areas. Although young people mostly stay in their patches, they need to things to do.

“We have our vision and it is heading in the right direction.”

They are currently in talks with Ealing Council to discuss the concept and gain support for the idea.

For more information, visit www.W4youth.org.uk

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