Nick Herbert visits challenge programme for young offenders

16 March 2009

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited the Lodge Hill Centre at Watersfield on Friday morning (13 March) to see how a programme is helping to turn around the lives of young offenders.

The Lodge Hill Challenge is run by the centre for approximately 180 young people each year who have offended or are at risk of offending.  The Challenge, run in partnership with the West Sussex Youth Offending Service, involves four stages of activities designed to build trust, communication, self-esteem, teamwork and a sense of achievement through physical activities.

Mr Herbert met up with representatives of the Lodge Hill Trust, which runs the centre near Pulborough, including Chief Executive Paul McNeill, Activities Manager Nick Turner, Trustee Bridget Youatt JP, who is also Chairman of the Sussex Western Bench, and fellow local magistrate David Longmore.

The MP was given a tour of the site by Craig Adams (18), a member of the Lodge Hill team who is undertaking the NVQ in youth work, to see some of the activities on offer, including a new underground tunnel system and a ‘sledge run' built by young offenders as part of their community service.

Mr McNeill commented: "The Lodge Hill Centre welcomed the visit of Nick Herbert and the interest he showed in the work the Centre does in providing team building and development for young people.  Over 28,000 young people and adults use Lodge Hill each year and approximately 70 per cent of these are from West Sussex."

Nick Herbert commented: "I was impressed by the Lodge Hill Challenge and inspired by the dedication of their staff.  It was great to see a programme which can help to give young people some purpose in life and get them back on the straight and narrow.

"I was particularly struck by what good value for money this scheme provides.  The Lodge Hill Trust is struggling to raise just £26,000 a year for the Challenge, yet the National Audit Office has recently censured the Government for wasting over £40 million on a poorly managed IT scheme for offenders.

"I'm an advocate of tough penalties for law breakers, but we also need to find ways to divert young people who may commit offences from slipping into a life of crime.  Instead of giving more support to cost-effective programmes like the Lodge Hill Challenge, run by the third sector, our society is dealing with the consequences of young offenders who get into the criminal justice system and end up costing the taxpayer a great deal more."

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. The Lodge Hill Centre is located at Watersfield, near Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 1LZ.

2. It can take up to two years to complete stages one to four of the Lodge Hill Challenge. In the third stage, anyone showing signs of leadership skills or the potential to become a youth worker is offered a place on stage four, where they gain a sports leadership award. From there, the successful participants are invited to interview for a job working at Lodge Hill for a year as a trainee. The Centre can also offer a three-year skills apprenticeship scheme leading to a qualification in youth work.

3. The aim and purpose of the Lodge Hill Trust is ‘the advancement of the education of young people by helping them to develop their mental, physical and spiritual capacities so that they may grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society and that their conditions of life may be improved.'

4. The activities provided at the centre include: abseiling, archery, climbing tower, clown / percussion / drama / basic circus skills, environmental project, environmental shelter building, high ropes, low ropes, kayaking, mountain biking, orienteering, parachuting, raft building, sailing, sand karts, sledge run, traverse wall, treasure trail, tunnel system and wind surfing.

5. For the website of the Lodge Hill Centre, visit http://www.lodgehill.org.uk/.

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