‘Anti-social and disorderly behaviour in Madley Park and Cogges estate with underage drinkers in car parks’… this is the number one concern for the people of east Witney, according to Thames Valley Police. At this very time, the council-provided youth centre in Witney is currently closed for refurbishment and there is little outreach work into the area, with young people often not accessing the services in the town centre as the route there is ‘unsafe’ to walk in the evening.

A few months back, Ugo Aganor, a youth pastor from Cogges Parish decided to address this lack of provision, and as a result formed Gatecrash. The group meets every Wednesday after school and is five minutes from the gates of Wood Green School, on the Madley Park estate, making it a safe, fun alternative for the young people who live in the area. What is unique about this group is the participation by the young people, with around 15 Wood Green sixth formers giving up their time to help run the groups and in turn earning their community award in recognition of what they are doing.

One Gatecrash volunteer and sixth form student commented: “I didn’t have these opportunities when I was younger so it’s good to be part of Gatecrash and learn how to work and be confident with young people. The work I do with Gatecrash also goes towards a community award at our sixth form, so I gain skills and a qualification too. More young people should give these groups a try, as they are really useful and fun.”

Gatecrash is being funded by Cogges Parish including all the equipment and funded the hall hire for the group.

The group has access to games consoles, projection facilities, pool, air hockey and table tennis and the hope is to extend the program to include educational activities such as music and media, which will be led by the sixth formers who help with the groups.

It has been praised by local residents, providing the much needed provision to the young people of east Witney.

For more information about Gatecrash contact Nicholas Watts on email nick.watts6@gmail.com or telephone 07538 36 44 51