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Lisa will 'transform' youth services

Posted Mon 7th July 2008 at 08:00

Alderney's new youth services manager is itching to meet the island's youngsters.

Lisa Oates, 36, who has 15 years' of youth work experience, arrived in Alderney a month ago, fresh from running a successful youth centre in Bracknell, Berkshire.

She is the fourth youth services manager to be appointed by the States in just 18 months but is the first to be offered a full-time role.

Youth Services Committee (YSC) chairman Liz Bennett recently said losing three youth services managers in just 18 months felt like disaster.

She said: "The last 18 months have been hard work for the YSC.

"Losing one youth worker was unfortunate, losing a second was careless and losing a third felt like disaster.

"However, in the ashes of that disaster was the proof we needed a qualified and full-time worker."

Ms Oates said the YSC's decision to employ a full-time worker was the first step to recognising the need to offer young people in the island a better deal.

"The YSC recognised the need for a full-time youth worker because they realise children in Alderney require a more cohesive and consistent service than has previously been provided," said Ms Oates.

"It will be my job to offer that service and I'm desperate to get started."

Ms Oates' first task is to re-open Alderney's youth club, which has been out of action since last summer.

She said: "I can't wait to for the youth club to open. I've been here a few weeks now and I'm itching to meet as many youngsters as possible."

Ms Oates went on to detail her first session, which will take place at the Butes Centre, this Thursday.

She said: "I will ask the children what they want to do and assess their hopes and needs. If they want to go on a trip somewhere I will ask them how they plan to raise the cash required and what the trip will help them achieve.

"Likewise, if the children say they want a new piece of kit I'll ask them how it's going to improve the youth service we offer and ask them how it is going to be funded.

"I won't promise the children they can have whatever they want but I'll certainly help them achieve realistic goals."

Ms Oates went on to say there is more to her job than simply running the youth club.

She said: "It's not just about running a youth club once a week, though that does form a part of what I'm aiming to offer.

"I want to give the children of Alderney a youth service that covers every club or activity they wish to get involved in.

"In two years' time I want every child here to know there is a club or service out there for them that will help them achieve whatever they want to achieve."

Mrs Bennett has backed Ms Oates to "transform" Alderney's youth service.

She said: "Lisa possesses a wealth of experience and I believe we are very fortunate to have her.

"I think she will transform our youth service by training volunteers who have persevered at the youth club while recruiting new ones who won't be able to resist her infectious enthusiasm."

Mrs Bennett also said she is fully aware of the public's perception towards Alderney's young people.

She said: "I am fully aware of the public perception of our youth; vandalism, hanging about in threatening groups, showing little respect, underage drinking; the list goes on.

"Lisa will include the most disaffected youngsters and foster a sense of responsibility and involvement.

"She will also give our youngsters a voice and encourage a sense of self respect."

The youth club opens on Thursday (July 10) for eight to 14-year-olds. Older children, up to the age of 17, will be invited along the following evening from 7.30pm.

For further information call Ms Oates on 01481 823301 or 07781 136812.

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