youthshelter 020The concept of being locked in the youth shelter by the community warden prompted me to carry out a site visit – to try to imagine what it would be like.

This is a place that I have never visited – despite living in Wye for 8 years – because I’d assumed that the “youth” shelter wasn’t for me. And I wasn’t sure whether the crowd which usually gathers there would have made me welcome. 🙂

So 8 years after first arriving in Wye, I found myself sitting in the youth shelter while the dog picked at chewing gum and cigarette butts on the floor. I think if we’d stayed for 30 minutes, she could have got herself a square meal – and a trip to the vets.

It’s clearly not the most comfortable environment: open to the elements, muddy, graffittied. One wall panel had recently been deliberately set fire to so it was also charred.

Here is where we send the village youth as a preparation for adulthood. A place to harden them up? A cold shack on the edge of the village green with no further stimulus than the graffiti and some groovy, mind-altering pictures on the ceiling.

Future archaeologists will probably sit and wonder at how barbaric we had become. “There weren’t even carpets or comfy chairs,” they will tweet. “It seems that subconsciously they really wanted their youth to become disaffected.”

The interesting thing is that some of the village youth are very attached to it. youthshelter 024

Perhaps this is because, for all its faults, it is a place that they can call their own, where they won’t be bothered by any interfering adult (except for an interfering parish councillor at 12 noon on a  Monday?), a gathering place where they can hook up with friends.

So for them it’s important that it’s not burned down or occupied by vagrants or miscreants – as has happened recently.

If we adults don’t like it or are embarrassed by it, we need to get ahead with providing something else.



About jasperbouverie

I am Jasper Bouverie. I have two blogs: which is about promoting sustainability in the village of Wye in Kent (and beyond); and which I will fill with short films dedicated to promoting social and environmental awareness and change. Find me on Twitter: funderfilms and finelinej
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