Thornhill teenagers’ behaviour turnaround

TEENAGERS who were causing trouble outside their local shop have turned their bad behaviour around.

Before Christmas, groups of young people were causing problems at The Co-operative in Thornhill on Friday nights.

Staff were being verbally abused, items were being stolen, customers were being asked to buy alcohol, bins were being set on fire and dog mess was being thrown in to the store.

As a result, youth workers began weekly patrols of the village to try and engage with the teens responsible and the number of incidents has fallen sharply.

Sharon Hart, manager of the store in The Town, said “My staff were upset. They didn’t want to work on an evening and they didn’t feel confident.

“They were on edge, but now the atmosphere is fabulous.”

Not only have local young people stopped causing trouble, they have actually started helping staff at Co-op.

Ms Hart said some had shovelled snow from outside the building, while others had offered to walk staff home to keep them safe late at night.

When the problems started, youth workers Liz Firth and Jade Smith were enlisted to walk the streets of Thornhill every Friday night and speak to local teenagers.

Since Christmas, they have built up relationships with young people in Thornhill by handing out hot chocolate – supplied by The Co-op – and speaking to them regularly to try and keep them out of trouble.

Mrs Firth said: “There were significant issues between Co-op staff and young people, especially when there was alcohol involved.

“We came in on a weekly basis to try and engage the young people with what’s going on in their area and highlight the importance of The Co-op, and the effect their behaviour has on the wider community.

“It’s allowed us to speak to them on issues to do with their drinking. We have been allowed into their lives and that excessive drinking has reduced as a result of our intervention. It meant talking to them as adults who didn’t have an agenda.”

The youth workers have been supported in regular meetings with Co-op staff and Kirklees Council officers as part of a project funded by Co-op.

Kirklees Council community safety officer Simon Whitworth said calls to the council’s youth support services had dropped as a result of volunteers, council officers and local businesses working together on the problems.

The team is now looking to train up a full time youth worker to continue the good work.

There are also plans being made to deal with other issues such as young people drinking too much at house parties, rather than on the streets.

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