A GOVERNMENT minister has praised the work done by a Belper youth project.
Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, visited The Drop Inn – a youth-lead scheme designed to get young people off the streets and involved in the community.
Mr Hurd was given a tour of the facility, which he described as ‘a fantastic place’.
He said: “What I love about it is it’s so clearly led by young people.
“So many places you go to young people haven’t got enough to do or they don’t have anywhere to go - but they have made something really good here.
“It has a definite feel about it because it’s so clearly lead by the young people, which means they have a sense of ownership.”
The project was founded 12 years ago by Andrea Fox, and was originally based in a basement in King Street, before moving to its Derwent Street premises.
Andrea decided to set up the facility in answer to the bad press a lot of young people were getting at the time.
“I went into a group of them and asked what they wanted,” she said.
“They just wanted somewhere to call their own.”
She said the young people decorated the youth centre and ran it themselves.
“They look after it,” Andrea continued.
She said the young people also did a lot of work within the community, which taught them respect.
Mr Hurd was shown a video on Derbyshire County Council’s ground breaking Volunteer Passport, made by the youth project’s manager, Tom Stone.
The Derbyshire Volunteer Passport is a short training course covering the key skills volunteers need to have to work with children and young people.
When they have finished training, volunteers are awarded a certificate and a Volunteer Passport photo ID badge, providing they have proof of a CRB check.
He also met Cllr Barry Lewis, the council’s cabinet member for young people, Ian Thomas, director of finance, Dave Bond, Amber Valley locality manager and Matt Ford – inventor of the passport scheme.
Mr Hurd said: “We’re looking to encourage more people to get involved in helping other people.
“This seems to be a really effective basic level of support which is making both big differences in very worthwhile things.”
Andrea said that prior to the Volunteer Passport being introduced it would takes months for people to gain all the qualifications needed to start volunteering, now the skills were taught in five half day courses covering keeping children and young people safe, health and safety, first aid, equality and diversity and getting the opinions of children and young people.
She has currently got three people waiting to take the course and said she wished it had been brought out years ago.
Andrea commented: “Volunteering raises the young people’s self esteem. They get a qualification and they can go onto college or into employment.”
Anyone interested in learning about the passport scheme can do so by visiting www.derbyshire.gov.uk/passport.
If you would like any further information on the Drop Inn it is available by visiting www.thedropinn.org.