Unlocking young people’s potential: CAST project and Newstead Village SOS project.

CAST project in Nottingham is part of the Future Newstead community group that has just been chosen to take part in Village SOS. They competed with communities across the UK to gain funds to transform an old spoil heap created by the former colliery into a sustainable, eco-sensitive Country Park that will improve local quality of life. Central to the plans will be the development of a fishing venue and education centre.

Ash from CAST Project looks over the proposed site developmentAsh from CAST Project looks over the proposed site development

Founded in 2001, CAST has successfully been using angling to re-engage hard to reach young people with education.  Ash, once a young member of CAST and now fully employed as a project leader, took me round the site. The planned Country Park will enable CAST to expand the qualifications and learning experiences they offer. He explains that young people from CAST will be directly involved in the creation of fishing platforms, planting, hedge maintenance and care of the fishing lakes.

“A lot of the young people we work with find it hard to concentrate in a class room environment. We take them out of that class room environment and put them into situations that they enjoy learning from”. He goes on to explains that already as part of an OCN they offer, young people learn about the life cycle of fish, but with the potential to develop a hatching area, young people could actually see the process for themselves and go on to study fishery management.

As I listen to the work that has gone into the Village SOS bid, what is most striking is that the local community has been involved throughout the consultation, planning and campaign process. The real plus point of this project however, is that this community engagement is set to continue with the involvement of young people in actual site development. This will not only allow young people to develop practical skills, but will also provide the opportunity for them to engage with society, to make a positive contribution, and have their hard work recognised.

Waters left by Newstead CollieryWaters left by Newstead CollieryAs our research has been finding, these types of engagement activities help to unlock the potential of not only local waters, but also young people themselves. In a media climate where young people are often portrayed negatively, having the opportunity to engage in activities that have a tangible impact on their community is important; such activities facilitate the recognition by young people themselves and by others, that young people can be valuable, active members of society. Local waters are emerging as key sites for this type of community engagement.

As we stand on the hill side looking out over the waters abandoned by the old colliery, it is clear that what Ash, CAST and the Future Newstead group see is a landscape bursting with opportunity. They recognise that unlocking this landscape can also mean unlocking young people’s potential, and that both are valuable community assets.

To follow the progress of the Future Newstead project as part of Village SOS visit http://www2.biglotteryfund.org.uk/prog_village_sos?tab=2&

A documentary following the project will appear on the BBC later in the year.

CAST Project: http://www.castangling.co.uk/castnewstead.html