New team leading future youth activities urges people to get in touch

This Is Wiltshire: Sally Willox during a smoothie-making  session with youth centre members in 2011 Sally Willox during a smoothie-making session with youth centre members in 2011

Wiltshire Council has appointed a team of community youth officers as the new approach to providing young people with activities.

Sally Willox, who has been a youth development worker for 12 years, will be one of 18 CYOs appointed to each area board who will be helping communities, particularly young people, develop activities in their area. Mrs Willox, 37, from Calne, will be CYO for the Devizes area and said: “I am looking forward to it. We all know it will be a challenge and it will be very different.

“We will be transferring a lot of skills and expertise into this new role. We have to advise and support the community, drawing on our knowledge.

“We will network and get ourselves known with organisations, and will help co-ordinate positive activities for young people.

“This will be done through a mapping exercise in Devizes of what there already is for young people. Then we will do an analysis of what young people want.

“We need to make sure we are working with as many individuals in the community as possible, including schools, area boards, voluntary sector, leisure centres and, fundamentally, young people.”

Each area board has been allocated money to provide youth activities and CYOs will put in a funding application. They will work with the newly formed Local Youth Networks for the application to be processed and implemented to provide activities.

Mrs Willox said: “We will not be directly running the facilities. We will be supporting and making sure enough staff are in place. Youth support workers are being recruited.

“We have to make sure young people have the best start in life and their transition to adulthood.”

The mother-of-three said CYOs would be based in council buildings and she would use the Estcourt Crescent rooms in Devizes as well as other council buildings.

Cabinet member for children’s services Laura Mayes said: “The appointments this week are the latest step in bringing in a new model which will be led by the local community with local young people having a say in what’s provided.

“For many young people this is a time of change but I’d encourage them to be involved so we can ensure the youth activities in their area are what they like to do.”

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