The potential need/opportunity to create a dedicated youth facility in Billingshurst (called the Billingshurst EYE) has been identified. It is envisaged that this would provide informal dedicated meeting/social space for young people (aged 12-25), plus a range of supporting sport, recreational, leisure, educational, lifestyle and health services. This report reviews evidence of demand for the EYE and its services. As well as national and local statistical sources, it draws on a survey of 692 Weald School Pupils (in the target age group); a small survey amongst Weald parents; and interviews with professional working with young people in the area
The need for such a facility has been flagged in a number of research based strategic documents including the Billingshurst Community-Led Plans, and the Horsham Sustainable Community Strategy.
The potential catchment of centre users is significant:
Although statistics reveal Billingshurst as relatively wealthy overall, there are still a significant number of households who, with low incomes, may struggle to find the time, resources and transport to access youth activities.
A lack of places to go and things to do has contributed to anti-social behaviour (ASB) problems in Billingshurst in recent years.
Discussions with local professionals has identified a need for better localised support for teenagers and young adults around a number of issues, including drugs misuse; sexual health; barriers/access to employment; and debt management. The EYE has scope to meet a number of needs in this respect:
Current regular provision of youth targeted services in Billingshurst includes Jubilee Fields Youth Club; Youth Church Groups: Scout, Guide and Explorers groups. These are all well attended and our interviewees indicated that the EYE would complement, rather than compete with this provision.
The health and fitness of young people is a topical issue at present. The village has a good provision of sports space, with Billingshurst Sports Centre, private dance/performing arts classes; Tae Kwon Do, and judo, football and cricket clubs running at the Billingshurst Sports Club; the skate part and astro-turf (basketball). Despite this, respondents to the survey indicated an interest in additional sports related activities at the EYE facility (particularly aerobics/fitness (32%); dance (24%) and martial arts (19%).
Cafe-type facilities are particularly limited in Billingshurst the few traditional tea shops are only open shopping hours. The village is too small to support commercial operations such as Starbucks or Costa, or an internet cafe, which open longer hours and are more attractive to young people. The Snack Wagon, which provides a café style meeting place is popular, but only visits one evening a week.
The Weald pupil survey indicated a very strong level of interest from young people: