Thetford pupils have their say
Rebecca Gough Teenagers from Thetford have been given the unique chance to air their grievances in front of town officials at a special presentation. Pupils from year 10 at Charles Burrell High spent the week before half term preparing presentations on what concerned them most about living the town.
Teenagers from Thetford have been given the unique chance to air their grievances in front of town officials at a special presentation.
Pupils from year 10 at Charles Burrell High spent the week before half term preparing presentations on what concerned them most about living the town.
They then presented their ideas to a panel including town councillor Terry Jermy and town centre manager Susan Glossop.
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Areas of concern included a fear of crime and a lack of shops, and many wanted more activities in the town such as a cinema, ice rink, improved transport and, in one case, funding to expand a youth club on Stephenson Way industrial estate.
Assistant headteacher at the school, Rob Carroll, said it was a chance for the pupils to gain confidence and learn important presentation skills.
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“Ultimately it's enterprising behaviour and they can be involved in and change the environment they live in,” he said. They're speaking to the change makers and the people who have influence in the town.”
The day began with pupils, who were separated into teams, presenting to the panel and receiving feedback. Lacey Timin, 14, led a group fighting for funding to expand The Edge, a Christian youth group.
“We'd like a bigger building because we're reaching our capacity,” she said. “The young students have older brothers and sisters they walk home with so we don't want to split them up.”
Others were worried about crime and argued for more CCTV and a visible police presence, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Patricia Ribeiro, 14, said: “We think it's an important issue because you have the right to feel safe in your own town. If you go into town you don't see many police officers near the pubs.”
Rachel Whittaker , 15, argued for more variety of shops which she and her team believed would boost the economy and create more jobs.
“I feel strongly about the shops we have and that they're not good enough for what us young people and most adults want,” she said.
“Most people I know go to Bury St Edmunds and Norwich for their weekly shop. It's not provided in Thetford; all we have is cheap shops.”
But town councillor Terry Jermy said people should support existing shops by spending their money in the town. He also argued crime in Thetford was relatively low compared to the rest of the country, and that the teenagers could think of ways to improve perception.
Town centre manager Susan Glossop also said the pupils should get more involved in the way things work, by attending town council meetings, for example. She put several who expressed a desire for more dramatic groups in touch with this year's pantomime organisers.
“I thought they were a lovely group of young people,” she added. “A lot of the things they wanted though like the cinema for example won't happen straight away.
“It depends what comes out of the local development framework and it's about people wanting to invest in the town. I think it will happen in time. When we see the bus station and forum and business park it'll all kick start it.”