Local Businesses are rallying together to help turn an ex-tipper van, into a fully customised mobile youth club for BIOS, the Swindon-based youth charity. The van will help to transform the lives of young people right across Swindon and will visit them where they are situated rather than rely on them to come to a venue.
Chris Priddy, projects Director for BIOS worked with Steve Woodward at TH White Ltd who took just 4 hours to find the perfect vehicle. Steve said, “When Chris called and told me about the project I was more than happy to help. We quickly tracked down a Fiat Ducato tipper van which was an ideal base to build on. We’re really pleased that we could help and given we’re relatively new to the town we want to help make a difference to the local community. I can’t wait to see the end result!”
Local business communications & IT providers Excalibur have also offered their support to the project. They will be the principle sponsor of the project and will provide laptops and iPads to go on the van.
James Phipps, CEO at Excalibur said: "I’ve been working with Chris for some time on this project so we really wanted to get fully behind it and sponsor the great work that BIOS do. The van is the ideal mechanism to attract young people and will offer them a host of great things to do. Most importantly BIOS travel to them so they can still provide excellent mentoring and support with the added advantage of entertainment, refreshments and a constructive environment.”
James is pictured right with Chris Priddy, centre, receiving the keys for the vehicle from Steve Woodward at TH White
Once fully ‘pimped’, the van will contain games consoles, internet access, DJ decks, sports equipment, a music system, refreshments station, craft activities and information for young people. It will run 12 youth club sessions each week meeting over 350 young people in parks and open spaces where antisocial behaviour is causing a problem for the local community.
Chris and his team have a long track record in supporting young people to make positive life choices and helping them to contribute to their local communities. Tom is one such example of an intelligent young man with a great sense of humour. At school he was underachieving, not engaging and being unpleasant to other students. After spending time with BIOS youth worker Rosie, he is making much more positive choices – Tom said: "Since working with BIOS I have stopped getting into trouble – no detentions anymore where I used to get 3 a week. I now don’t do stupid things like I used to."
Other community-minded businesses that have stepped up to help to pimp the van are ISIS Coachworks who are going to undertake the actual conversion, SEQOL, Pebley Beach, TeeOne and Eyetrak. However BIOS still need more! Chris and his team are hoping to get the message over and encourage local businesses to help improve their community with support, no matter how big or small.
"We are far from completion on this", said Chris. "We are still looking for more businesses to come alongside and lend their support. We are looking for someone who could donate a fuel card, insurance services, equipment and publicity and others who could sponsor specific sessions that the project will deliver."
To find out more and to get involved visit www.settings4life.org.uk
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson who has commissioned the project through his Innovation Fund said: “Having joined BIOS volunteers during one of their evening sessions, I think the idea of a mobile youth club van is a great way to engage with young people while they are out and about, providing them with a safe place to meet, rather than just ‘hanging out on the streets’. It should also help to reduce reports of anti-social behaviour in the town and allows the BIOS team to engage with young people who may otherwise not attend a typical youth group.”