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Irwell Valley put young people first
Wednesday 12th April 2017 @ 16:26 by Lee Wild
Denton & Audenshaw News

Labour nominee for first elected mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham visited the Oasis Centre in Haughton Green on Monday.

The Leigh MP was visiting the centre alongside Denton MP Andrew Gwynne to see the work being done by Mancunian way in partnership with Irwell Valley and other local services.

Andy Burnham, accompanied by Denton MP Andrew Gwynne

Mancunian Way is a charity that goes out into the streets where young people may not have access to youth centres. They target areas where antisocial behaviour is an issue and work with local youths to teach them on important subjects from drug awareness to understanding apprenticeships.

When Mr Burnham arrived, he spent some time with a few local boys who use the services frequently. They sat at a table and made pizza’s whilst chatting about changes they would like to see in local transport.

Following this, he spoke to several of the staff who had involvement with the Oasis Centre. Local PCSO’s, fire and rescue, Irwell Valley and Mancunian Way discussed their great work. Sasha Deepwell, Chief Executive of Irwell Valley Housing Association shared her excitement for the cause:

“Irwell Valley has invested quite heavily into this estate to improve the environment, surroundings and homes. This Centre offers all kinds of opportunities for young people, such as free music lessons, opportunities to be in a band, and lots of creative activities. There’s also a library and various resources to help them with anything they need.

“We engaged with Mancunian Way to ask them if they could help us to work with the young people that we weren’t reaching. To work to help them to think about their actions and the impact they have on the community. Since this collaboration started there has been a marked decline in instances of antisocial behaviour.  The whole thing has had a great impact.

“Andy Burnham asked us to visit today because of his interests in improving community safety. In terms of the outcomes that he wants to see, our interests very much come together. We were delighted to be able to say bring him to Haughton Green and meet all the different agencies that come together for this centre. I’m sure that our collective efforts will be of great interest to Councillor Burton.”

Sasha Deepwell, Irwell Valley CEO

The Chief Executive of Mancunian Way, Nick Buckley,  was also in attendance at the meeting:

“We’ve been working with Irwell Valley now for about 3 years. In December they approached us with some youth related issues in Haughton Green. So we met with them to put some plans together for youth engagement on the streets. There are indoor activities available in Haughton Green but the young people who were potentially causing problems were not accessing them.

“Our outreach team started working on a weekly basis in Haughton Green, finding young people and engaging with them. Our aims are to educate them on acceptable behaviour and personal responsibility. Unless we teach young people about actions and consequences how do we expect them to make informed choices about their future?

“It has been extremely easy to engage with the young people of Haughton Green. Now we have around 45 young people attending Oasis on a Tuesday. We’ve had amazing feedback from the local community and the young people really have improved their outlook on life.”

After speaking with various people involved with the centre, Mr Burnham went over to Haughton Green Park for a game of football with the local boys. He got fully into the game attempting a few goals and managing to play a good game even in his suit.

Following this the busy MP headed over to Haughton Green community centre to see the work being done to help the community there too. Here he spoke to the people running the centre and complimented the work being done during the weekly ‘art for health’ club.

Discussions turned to his intentions if he were to become mayor towards the end of his visit.

“If I could single out a priority it would be young people. They’re top of my agenda. I can see from talking to people here today that there’s a lot more that needs to be done for the next generation across Greater Manchester.”

“Devolution only means something if you use it to do things differently. I think that the idea that making young people a target for cuts is a hugely flawed one. In the end it would bring about a false economy as it would build a divided society.”


By Zoe Wright