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Local Talkback
Talkback is for the residents and businesses in Liphook to voice their views and opinions about local issues and events.

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An open letter about a community idea.
- Andrew Oxton (2nd Oct 2019 @ 12:08:50)

An open letter to the residents of Liphook

Dear Liphook resident,
I hope this letter finds you well. I wonder if you would take a little time out of your day to read these lines as I have an idea which I believe could benefit our community and help with an issue which has been spoken about many times recently.

The issue that I would like to discuss is the lack of activities available to our younger residents.
There have been many complaints about anti-social behaviour and I believe that this is a direct result of the above.

On any given evening, there are groups of teenagers hanging around The Recreation ground, Radford Park, Sainsbury’s and other areas. There has been allegations of verbal abuse and threatening behaviour. There is certainly drug use as I have seen it first-hand. I do not believe for one second that all of these kids are bad kids. Some might be, but many of them are just bored and perhaps could do with something to do or somewhere to go.

I have an idea which may well improve the situation for everyone concerned.

A little background about me. I have lived in Liphook for about 14 years, I am married with three children. I have been involved with Liphook United football club for about 8 or 9 years, I currently coach the Under 14’s, some of them were 5 years old when they started. I am into my third year as Chairman of the club. It is a voluntary position which I enjoy and although it takes up a lot of my time, I do it for my lad, his teammates, the rest of the 250 players who we have registered and our many fans who come to watch.

I work in Portsmouth for a charity called Two Saints. For the last 9 years I have worked in a building called The Portsmouth Foyer. It is a homeless shelter for 16-25 year olds. We have 48 residents who all have their own issues. I have supported hundreds of youngsters over the years. I have dealt with every issue you can imagine and many that you would not like to imagine. I have experience dealing with prison leavers, violent offenders, drug users, victims of abuse and much more.

Our job is to try and get the youngsters into meaningful employment, improve their mental health, get them into education and keep them busy with activities. To be clear, in no way am I saying that the youth of Liphook have any of the problems I’ve mentioned above, I am just pointing out that I would be qualified to deal with any issues which I might come across.

So, what’s my idea?

I am considering forming a non-profit Community Interest Company (or something similar) which will initially concentrate on providing activities, events and support to local youths aged 13 to 17.

To start with as money will no doubt be tight, I would be planning to use the football clubhouse as a base. The clubhouse is under used as it is and would provide an area where the youngsters could sit, chat, play pool, table tennis, listen to their god awful music, watch movies, hook up an Xbox etc.

At the moment, they sit at the Rec anyway, so why not give them a place where they can stay warm and out of trouble. The club would receive a small rental fee from the company. I would supervise them.

This would not be a youth club and although every Liphook youngster would be welcome, I would imagine that some youngsters would not be comfortable socializing with some of the more challenging young people. There is no way I could stop them using alcohol or drugs whilst in public, but I would have a zero tolerance policy whilst in the clubhouse. The youth would have to respect the rules if they wanted to get the benefits of being on the program – clubhouse access, free food and drinks, paid trips to theme parks, bowling, paintballing etc. There would be a zero tolerance policy towards violence and abuse. They would toe the line or they would be out in the cold. I will not be messing around.

The reason for this open letter is to gauge opinion of this idea. Unfortunately I do not see the local council addressing this issue and although I will be applying for funding from them, I have attended enough council meetings to know that I could be fighting a losing battle there.
There are other grants which I can and will apply for to help me get the company started, but I am hopeful that, initially at least, a good percentage of the funding would come from Liphook residents.

Liphook has a population of approx. 10,000 people and that number is only going to increase. The way I see it is if I could get 2000 of those residents to donate £1-£5 per month to the Community Interest Company and add that to any funding I can obtain, then there would be enough money to provide this service and to pay any staff a very modest salary.

My plan would be to take this on as my full time position and over time grow the company to the point where it could benefit not only our youth, but also perhaps our older residents and other community projects like adult mental health workshops etc., but again, that is in the future.

Although I am keen to get started on this, I do have my own reservations. Would it be a success? Would the young people engage in the activities provided? Would the local community be on board with the idea?

I am keen to hear your thoughts on this, positive or negative so I can decide how and if to proceed. Please list any concerns you might have - if you think it’s worth doing - if you would be willing to donate - if you think it’s a terrible idea… etc.

Please contact me via the email address below
andrewoxton@liphook-united.org

Many thanks for your time.
Andrew Oxton

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- Trevor Maroney (2nd Oct 2019 @ 20:44:46)

I applaud the concept and refer you to the Bramshott & Liphook Parish Plan at www.liphookplan.co.uk if you would like further ideas on what the community would like.

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- Dave Lambert (3rd Oct 2019 @ 09:37:41)

As an ex chairman of Liphook F.C. I would like to wish you well.
Good luck.

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- Tina (3rd Oct 2019 @ 11:11:27)

Hurray for people like Andrew :-)

A great idea and I would be happy to support it.

My only suggestion at the moment is that you would need to find some way to validate the idea with the young people you would hope will use the service. So ask them what it is they want/would like.




Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- Oliver (3rd Oct 2019 @ 13:37:18)

I think it is great idea and I would certainly be happy to donate a regular amount

Oliver

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- Mary (4th Oct 2019 @ 09:43:11)

I would donate. If it gets off the ground.

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- John (4th Oct 2019 @ 17:56:07)

What a community spirited and refreshing idea. I’m sure that this is the sort of thing that would qualify for community funding through developers contributions held by the council.

Having said that I’d be equally happy to donate a monthly amount. Great idea Andrew, well done. There should be more people like you around!

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- D (4th Oct 2019 @ 20:42:53)

Liphook did once have a youth club but it got demolished to make way for housing, and there were still groups of people as you describe hanging around other areas. Namely the rec, the track in Malthouse Meadows leading to Radford Park (which at the time was a huge dump for everything from old sofas to industrial waste) The Anchor car park and on the seats which used to be outside Lloyd's Bank (other banks are available, well they were at the time anyway). I believe it was run by unpaid volunteers.

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- D (4th Oct 2019 @ 21:10:32)

2,000 people giving a fiver a month is £120,000 a year. If you would be willing to put off doing this as your full time job for a year or two you could have your own purpose built facility which you could hire out for other uses when not used as a youth club (hope you don't mind that term). Only problem I can see is guaranteeing the income, you would have to do it on a covenant basis or similar which people might not be keen to do. Why waste money renting someone else's premises.

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- john (4th Oct 2019 @ 23:47:49)

Think there is currently a youth club at the Millennium Hall?

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- D (5th Oct 2019 @ 08:56:18)

You refer to your proposal as a "company" and you mention "staff" and "salaries". Are you sure you're not asking for money to fund people's wages?

Re: An open letter about a community idea.
- JR (9th Oct 2019 @ 19:38:43)

I really hope this happens. With all of the negative news everywhere, finding someone who wants to try and do something about it is great news.

Good luck with the parish council though!

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