At-risk youth in Berkeley and Bellambi are receiving a helping hand after charity organisation Youth Off The Streets’ opened outreach services in the suburbs.
Through the service, Youth Off The Streets has been conducting activities and providing free meals for young people on certain week nights at the Berkeley and Bellambi neighbourhood centres since December.
The outreach services were established after community members in the area asked for assistance.
Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and NSW Police were also used when determining whether an outreach service was needed.
The organisation’s Cordeaux Heights Centre for Youth facility manager Suzi Kenney said there had been positive feedback since the service began operating out of the two suburbs.
“Berkeley and Bellambi are in need of an effective after-hours outreach program,’’ Ms Kenney said.
‘‘All community members and services have been welcoming.
‘‘It’s now about building trust with the young people in the area and establishing programs that suit their needs.’’
The official opening was held at the Berkeley Neighbourhood Centre last Friday, with Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery attending.
Fr Chris Riley said he was pleased to extend the service to Berkeley.
“High crime rates are a feature of the area, so it is clear that we must engage young people, in a safe environment, to divert them away from criminal activity,” Fr Riley said.
“Our team at Illawarra Outreach are really excited to bring fun activities to young people in the area, and are embracing the opportunity to learn more about the needs of local youth and how best we can support them in their journey to realise their full potential.’’
Youth Off The Streets’ Illawarra Outreach is looking for committed volunteers to help out at both the Berkeley and Bellambi outreach services whenever possible. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Youth Off The Streets on 02 9330 3500.
Illawarra Outreach is the sixth outreach to be opened after Youth Off The Streets received $5 million from the National Crime Prevention Fund in April 2013