Cumbrian youngsters are making a difference

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Some of the Cumbrian youngsters who have taken part in the Stronger Together Moorclose project

UCLan led project has seen teenagers undertake research in their local community

Young people from Cumbria have been helping make a difference in their community by carrying out a huge research project led by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) which is aimed at transforming the area they live in.

The findings from the Stronger Together Moorclose project will now be used to find solutions to the issues raised by residents who live in the area of Workington.

A total of 74 youngsters from police cadets, fire cadets, South Workington Youth Partnership and St Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School have acted as community researchers knocking on hundreds of doors over the last few months.

It has been wonderful to work with such inspiring young people from West Cumbria, they all made excellent community researchers and served as role models for their community.

During the research the young people quizzed residents on how they felt about living in Moorclose, community cohesion, the best things about the area, what stops people from getting on and what could be done to improve it.

The research found that the best things about living in Moorclose are:

  • It’s a quiet area
  • Community spirit
  • Local amenities
  • People have deep roots there
  • The outdoors and green spaces

Alternatively, people thought the challenges in Moorclose were:

  • Drugs
  • Lack of places for people to meet
  • Ignorance
  • Lack of diversity

When asked about what could be done to improve the area people said they would like to see “more for children and young people to do”, “more traffic and vehicle measures”, “remove drug users from the area”, “better links with housing”, and tackling littering and anti-social behaviour.

The project was led by the UCLan and was a collaboration between Workington Town Council, Allerdale Borough Council, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Constabulary, Westfield Housing Association and Castles & Coasts.

Suzanne Wilson, Research Fellow in Social Inclusion and Community Development at UCLan, led the project. She said: “It has been wonderful to work with such inspiring young people from West Cumbria, they all made excellent community researchers and served as role models for their community.

“It's great to see their passion for improving their community for the benefit of everyone and I'm really excited to help bring their ideas to life.”

The young people who have carried out this project should be commended for their hard work and commitment to the area in which they live

A special ‘Community Shout Out’ event was held at Moorclose Community Centre on 12 February to present the results and debate the findings. It was attended by more than 90 people including the chair of UCLan, the area’s councillors, representatives from local organisations and residents, allowing people from different backgrounds and perspectives to share views.

Inspector Rachel Gale, from Cumbria Police, said: “This research emphasises that Moorclose has a great community spirit, that there is a strong tight-knit link between those that live there and that they are proud of their area.

“It also shows people feel there are issues that need to be tackled. Police work in partnership all-year-round to address community concerns and improve the quality of life for people.

“The young people who have carried out this project should be commended for their hard work and commitment to the area in which they live.”

Marion Fitzgerald, Leader of Allerdale Borough Council, attended the event at Moorclose Community Centre. Councillor Fitzgerald said: “Whenever I visit Moorclose, I am always impressed by the community spirit. It was wonderful to see all the young people on stage at the community centre.

“I'd like to say congratulations to Suzanne Wilson, from UCLan, for helping the community to gather the information we need to help drive forward improvements and to make lives better wherever we can.

“I have signed up to join the Action Group and can't wait to get started. The Council will do whatever it can to support this initiative.”  

Rachel Atkinson | 21 February 2020