I was sat racking my brains for the big Barry issue to wax lyrical on this week when a sly little survey pinged my inbox.
Basically, questions were being asked on whether we needed to provide more support and provision for our town’s LGBT+ youth
I was like ‘Hell Yeah’ but very pointedly also said that we needed more provision and support for ALL our youth.
How many times have I heard young people today say that there was ‘nowhere to go’ – and after last weekend, I now totally believe them.
Driving to, and from, the Neil Lewis Night last Friday, dropping Gig Girls off ‘down Town,’ at the West End and in the Colcot, I have never seen so many kids just hanging about the streets.
I thought Butterfly Collector Gareth was exaggerating slightly when he said there’s often fifty to sixty teenagers loitering late at night in Holton Road. Take back all I said Mr Slattery!
As soon as I got home I wrestled Handsome Harry off the Playstation long enough to ask him about this. Once I’d poured a large glass of Red of course. I can’t go all Friday night without a tipple – I drove because I was tired not teetotal.
Guess what he said? Yeah, yeah, you got it. “Mum, there’s nowhere to go?”
I then went on a walk down Memory Lane boring him senseless about how back in the day we were spoiled for choice.
Who doesn’t remember ‘The Comp’ and ‘The YM’ disco. I was there every night and never missed the weekend discos on the Friday and Saturday nights respectively,
I even popped over to the Barry Island Youth Club on occasion if I was feeling adventurous, or let’s be honest, if there was someone over there I fancied.
Whatever reason we got together for, the common theme was that we were teenagers going through all those well-known rites of passage, in a safe space, with friends, where we felt we belonged.
Many a friendship was formed, solid bonds created, and much memories made in these little communities.
Apparently there’s Pop Up Youth Clubs now but what if they don’t ‘pop up’ on the night, or in the area, they are needed by a vulnerable young man or woman?
And how can you forge firm friendships and a sense of belonging when things are so transient, inconsistent, and movable.
Now, before I am drowned out by referees whistles, I totally get the catch all comment that kids can ‘do sport’ for something to do.
Yes this is absolutely true for many. Respect to those running boxing gyms , football teams, gymnastic groups, running clubs and so on. Thank you for all that you do in your own time and for the kids not the rewards.
But what if a young person is not ‘sporty,’ or hasn’t the confidence, skill, ability, fitness or inclination to take part.
What if they just want a kick about with the lads and lasses without worrying about making the team. Or they just fancy a little jog about without getting into the high performance training vibe of an elite athlete.
I struggle to see that it’s for everyone as, in my view, there’s still a lot left out.
So in the same vein, of course it’s commendable to be looking to have more provision for LGBT Youth. Queer people, of all ages are a marginalised group and are statistically proven to have higher rates of depression, suicide attempts – and actual suicides, as we struggle through this heteronormative world.
But, here’s a radical thought, let’s be even more inclusive, more diverse and more equal, and provide more for all our young people in our town.
And while we are doing that let’s make sure that there’s shed loads of extra, and if needed targeted support in place, for those who need our help just that little bit more.
Mind you, I’m not sure exactly what that provision would be or how it would look or feel – maybe a Slush Puppy on a Friday night to the sounds of the Top Twenty at ‘The Comp’ just won’t cut it anymore.
So while the Jury in my head is still out on that one, I am absolutely certain that surely we can give our young people something more than hanging around the empty streets in the pelting rain on a wet weekend in a teenagers ghost of a town.
What do you think?
Answers on a postcard please.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist.
She blogs about all things Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good