Headlines: May 25th, 2006

Young people in the West Midlands have been working with a firm of architects and local authorities in the region to design their own recreational places and spaces. The “Youth Space” scheme, run by local architects MADE has seen the creation of a number of youth shelters and early indications are that these have contributed to a drop in anti-social behaviour.The Government Office West Midlands commissioned youth shelters in parks and open spaces in six areas. Young people were consulted at every stage and they worked closely with MADE designers and artists, offering their own vision of “roofs for youths”. Three have been opened already at Coleshill in Warwickshire, the Stechford area of Birmingham and at Warndon in Worcestershire.

GOWM says the project has made the idea of youth space a buzzword among the region’s politicians and local authorities. It says there are already signs that anti-social behaviour is decreasing as a result of the new facilities. Three further shelters are to be opened in Hereford, Bromsgrove and Wolverhampton.

Pete Reynolds, Positive Activities Manager for Young People in the region said he was a great believer in evidence-based practice and all the signs were that the Youth Shelters ticked all the right boxes for young people. “When young people are involved in the planning stages of a project, feel valued and listened too, they will go out of their way to value their own environment as a result. These “bespoke spaces” are not only a much wanted and contemporary meeting place for young people in the early evenings, but also a daytime resource for the community too,” he added. The needs of young people should be considered in all aspects of community design, he said, and the new shelters were a step towards that.

Julia Ellis, Director of MADE said the project had set benchmarks for community design projects and had given a voice to young people who were often excluded by their communities.