Space Youth Bus: Burnley service helping ‘thousands’ of struggling children needs £70,000 by summer to avoid closing permanently

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Here’s everything you need to know about the Space Youth Bus in Burnley, how it helps young people and where it is now:

What is the Space Youth Bus?

The service offers free support and fun activities for people aged 7-20. It operates in Burnley Wood on Wednesdays and Stoneyholme on Fridays, and travels to a new area in need every five weeks. It offers arts, crafts, games, sports activities, computers with free Internet access, iPads and game consoles, as well as advice on everything from homework and jobs to alcohol, drugs and sexual and mental health.

Lynne Blackburn, Project Manager of Participation Works NW, appeals for funds for the Space Youth Bus. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Why is it in danger of closing?

Its manager says it will run out of Calico and Lottery funding by the end of March and June, respectively. The team need to raise £70,000 to keep the doors open for another year.

Director Lynne Blackburn said: “We are really frantically looking for other sources of funding.”

Why does Lynne say it’s vital to keep the bus open?

Exterior of the Space Youth Bus seeking funding to continue using it. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

She said: “It’s an amazing project. There is nothing like it there. We have helped thousands of children. From July to September, we supported 900 young people and 98 of them benefited from individual support or well-being workshops.

“It has had a huge impact on their lives. They get support from trusted adults who are trained youth workers. We have helped people who once had chaotic home lives, but are now working mothers. uniform and builds a relationship with young people.

She added: “We are one of the last free services for young people in Burnley. I am concerned about the lack of support for young people and safe spaces to hang out with their friends.”

How has the project helped address an increase in anti-social behavior over the past 12 months?

Interior of the Space Youth Bus seeking funding to continue using it. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The team had previously been stationed at the bus station and at the bottom of Manchester Road, with Lynne saying: ‘There was nowhere for these youngsters to go. Boredom was mounting and they were downtown.

“I don’t blame everything on the pandemic but I think young people felt really isolated because they had no social contact. [during lockdown] and weren’t in school. I have seen a massive increase in mental illnesses.

She added: “Originally there was high anti-social behavior throughout Burnley. Now it’s in pockets across the city as we build relationships with kids and break down barriers.

What is the current need for the Space Youth Bus?

Ideally, Lynne would like to drive the bus three nights a week.

The project originally ran for four nights, but proved so vital that it was expanded to six, plus Saturday and Sunday during the day.

“We used to get around £110,000 a year in funding, plus a supplement to go out all day on Saturdays and Sundays,” the manager said.

“We are constantly looking for funding. It’s a lot of pressure.”

Where does the service currently operate?

It is located on Oxford Road on Wednesdays from 5.30pm to 9.30pm and Rectory Road near Burnley College on Fridays from 6pm to 10pm.

How can the public support the cause?

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